Flying the Indie Flag

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by Gary Miller

Flying the Indie Flag

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 18

With the music business landscape's rapid changes, the concept of an indie label has also changed. The record labels represented on this panel moderated by Hits Magazine's Karen Glauber are certainly independent in style and have undoubtedly been successful on their own terms. Yet the conversation was still filled with enough old-fashioned record business jargon and concerns to make even the most hardened cynic wonder if perhaps those models remain part of the music business' problems. Glauber began by asking Mac McCaughan of Merge Records how the label reacted when the Arcade Fire recently won a Grammy. While acknowledging that it was surprising for their band to be recognized at that level, he claimed, "It doesn't change what you're doing." Daniel Glass of Glassnote, which works with Phoenix and the now-platinum-selling Mumford & Sons, spoke about building a record slowly and being grateful for gradual success. The essential upshot here was that these labels, including Sub Pop, Warp, and Matador, use a different business model from the majors, which allows them to sign and work with fewer artists and build careers. Still there was talk of car commercials and views on a change in the outlook of commercial radio that lead one to believe they're still playing the same game – just on a smaller scale.

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SXSW Panel, Merge, Mac McCaughan, Glassnote Records, Sub Pop Records, Warp Records, Matador Records

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