Sammy G has a major pet peeve, one that almost rivals the haute couture restricting me from wearing brown sandals with a black belt. This pet peeve is hearing those in the media industry misuse the term “independent.” I don’t think people recognize the true meaning of the term and the harmful implications of throwing that term around.
I haven’t felt the need to spout off like a discordant term-snob until The Rampant Coyote specifically featured the use of “indie” on his game development blog:
When most say “indie” to describe their production, concept, artistic statement, etc. they mean it to infuse a sense of hip, underground, and edgy into their operation. It’s used as a marketing term. It means to a fan or vendor or investor that your operation is rooted in core development values, pure of intent, uninfluenced by a “corporate” world driven by profit motive.
When I hear the term “indie” in association with media, I instantly think just the opposite. I think of a business that is undercapitalized, devoid of strong managerial acumen, and without strong marketing to access customers and fulfill their expectations over time in the form of customer support.
Let me explain to you why the term is misused: if you were to start a record label (“record” being another term now clearly misused!), and you file your charter documents at the Secretary of State, and you pay some bucks to register your trademark with the USPTO, and you find a couple worthy folks to sit on your Board, then there is no difference structurally between your record label and Warner Bros. None. Both corporations are in good standing with their state, both pay income and withholding taxes, both retain the capacity to sue and be sued, and both have shareholders who vote at required annual meetings to elect a Board of Directors which carries a fiduciary responsibility to oversee that management earns a return for the shareholders. Structurally, there is no difference, unless of course you organized your record label as a partnership. And even then there really is no big difference.
In reality, however, we all know there is a big difference. One label is more successful than the other. One has lots of revenue. One has lots of customers. One has distribution.
So for those of you out there who use the term “indie”, let me warn you there are those who hear that term and automatically think you have a business that does not influence or impact the market in any significant way. It means, "we're not as successful as others." To some it means, "“we don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to selling our product.”
The only true “independent” sector in the United States, as recognized by the IRS for tax treatment purposes, is the nonprofit sector.
Just my opinion.