Indie gone mainstream…What exactly happens to an artist when that happens? With so much music being put out into the world, some indie artists are bound to get noticed by the masses and gain popularity. Take for instance fun. They have been on Billboard Hot 100 for weeks now, receive an incredible amount of radio play, and have won a few mainstream awards (Teen Choice Awards, MTV Video Award). Or take Indie group Bon Iver, who won a Grammy for Best New Artist earlier in the year. The experience must be extremely hard for them to wrap their head around. To record music and release it not for anything beyond self-satisfaction and then to receive these huge accolades… what a trip.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver said during his Grammy speech, “It’s also hard to accept because when I started to make songs, I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I’m a little bit uncomfortable up here.” The humbleness of this man is often unheard of in today’s music industry. With people pulling Kanye’s and showing dirty looks when they don’t win an award, the limelight seems to jade everyone who gets under it, even for a moment. Vernon continued his speech saying, “With that discomfort, I do have a sense of gratitude. I want to say thank you to all the nominees and all the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here.”
To see someone succeed in such a manner and then shrug it off and thank everyone else who is doing what they are doing is so grounding. It makes this author wonder why more people can’t keep their egos in check like this. So, despite becoming mainstream, it seems to be possible to keep relaxed and not let fame blow up a band’s head. But it takes a special kind of people for that.
Now, don’t be like the Hipster Barista meme posted and stop supporting your favorite artist just because they have hit it big. Stay loyal, support indie, and buy local.
EDIT – Redditor xseanathonx had some really good info to add to this topic which I didn’t really touch on:
“[Y]ou missed a big part of why people actually stop listening to artists when they hit it big. Take Arcade Fire for example. I don’t know a single person who stopped listening to them due to their popularity. Why do I think this is? Their sound didn’t change. A lot of artists change their sound when they get big to appeal to the majority of listeners and make more money. It gets to a point where growth is the only thing they care about.
Take Matt and Kim for example. Their sound has change drastically over their past two albums. I was a huge fan in the beginning, but my taste for their music has declined the further from their original sound they travel. It could be argued they are just changing artistically, but when I heard their single “Now” I heard a drop. This fun light band put a drop in one of their singles. This seems to me more of a fad than artistic growth. But that’s just my opinion.”