The State of Indie Music, According to Spotify Editors — Spotify
One of the characteristics that gives indie its broad appeal is its ability to embrace a variety of sounds, moods, and geographies in a way that few other genres can. This overlapping of influences is not lost on Spotify’s global team of independent music publishers, responsible for playlists such as brand new indie, Loremand Oblique. Although these three playlists have three unique moods, each is very very much rooted in indie.
Groups of Spotify publishers make up our global curation groups, or GCGs. As the name suggests, they sit in offices around the world and know which artists listeners are streaming the most, what new tracks are about to be released, and what trends stem from those listening habits. Additionally, they are genre experts, as well as fans themselves, who thrive on in-depth cultural discussions about the music they curate.
That is why For registration spoke to GCG Independent Editors to get an idea of what’s hot in 2022 and what to expect in the future. Here’s what we heard.
A new sound for a new generation
Indie has broadened its horizons considerably in recent years, according to our editors. Sonically, indie draws more inspiration from electronica, pop and hip-hop than ever before, from a hugely diverse group of artists. And geographically, the growing worldwide popularity of indie has led to the genre being imbued with a wide range of regional sounds.
This crossover of so many different genres and cultures has caused it to function as a springboard for exciting new creators popping up in playlists like Modern Alternative.
One rising star in particular is RADAR artist Arlo Parkswho is also nominated for two Grammys in 2022. Drawing on a variety of influences including folk, disco and trip-hop, her music provides a window into the growth of black people in London.
Artists who defy convention
Thanks to the growing influence of Gen Z, the genre is also propelled by a community-driven mindset that values collaboration and experimentation. For proof, look no further than PinkPantheranother one RADAR artist who went from social media buzz to genuine pop stardom in 2021. Her ability to seamlessly fuse the sounds of dance and pop into something all her own led one editor to describe her as a ” chameleon of the kind”. PinkPantheress’ gender sensibility aligns with that of artists like Grimes, who coined the term Ethereal to describe their own unique sound. It also inspired Spotify editors to create the Ethereal playlist, which explores the different ways in which rock, pop and electronic intersect.
The indie community is also drawn to these artists who defy convention at every turn. Including Shamirwhose influences can swing between house, country and industrial, and whose music often touches on gender, sexuality and their experience as a non-binary black individual.
But more than indie drawing inspiration from other genres, much of its versatility comes from the artists’ stylistic approaches. While Caroline Polachek blurs the lines between indie and Top 40 pop, an artist like Mitsky often takes a more conceptual approach to his songs, with lyrics that have a theatrical vibe.
Global Fans, Local Influences
This variety serves as the engine for playlists such as POLLEN, which provides insight into the many ways indie artists are playing between the lines. Our editors say indie is less about a specific sound or place, and more about a feeling fans identify with, but that doesn’t mean indie lacks a sense of place.
For independent artists around the world, local sounds are still a big influence. Belarus Molchat Doma scoured the hype around 80s-inspired post-punk and synthwave, which is captured in a new playlist titled Insomnia. Colombia Bomba Stereoin the meantime, merges electro and cumbia with indie to create an undeniably tropical sound. Including artists such as Mdou Moctar and Altin Gunthe reading list folk factory encapsulates the indie mix of traditional sounds from around the world.
Our editors expect indie to continue to become more representative of the different sounds and perspectives bubbling among emerging artists. But at the same time, they believe indie is going back to its roots and embracing the underground, non-conformist mentality that gave birth to the genre. Instead of big-budget productions, we expect artists to embrace more of the lo-fi, DIY sounds we’ve heard in the past.
Maybe in the future artists will get more of the attention they deserve because the focus will be on the music – not the production values.