Green Room

Irony: “Indie” rock now on gov’t subsidies

posted at 11:38 am on May 7, 2013 by

Via Nick Gillespie, the indie-rock movement is going to have to find a new name:

For the first time, the U.S. government’s trade arm is stepping in to help the music business, funding trade missions to Brazil and Asia in recent months for the heads of a dozen independent music labels, which make up one-third of the U.S. music market.

It is a departure for the International Trade Administration, which has been spending $2 million annually to boost exports for the past two decades under its Market Development Cooperator Program but has never before given one of its $300,000 grants to the music industry, instead favoring sectors like machinery, technology and engineering services.

Until last year the agency hadn’t received a music-industry application worthy of the award, an ITA spokesman said. Indeed, it hadn’t received an application at all.

“We need to find new revenue streams,” said Rich Bengloff, president of the American Association of Independent Music, whose idea it was to apply for the grant. He led the trips and arranged meetings with local distributors, mobile-phone carriers, booking agents and ad agencies. “We now need to adjust to a smaller monetization at home.”

Indie labels see big opportunities in Latin America and Asia—and visiting in person pays off, especially in markets such as Japan, where fans favor foreign artists that spend time in their country engaging with locals and making TV appearances.

Many of the independent label heads that visited Seoul, Shanghai and Hong Kong this fall as part of the ITA grant program have since signed foreign distribution and licensing deals that will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, Mr. Bengloff said. The deals could represent as much as a quarter of a small independent label’s revenue, he said.

Nick is gobsmacked at the contradiction:

You know what was one of the things that made rock and roll (and pop music, broadly defined) so freaking great? Precisely the fact that it not only developed without the sorts elite, class-based subsidies lavished on opera, ballet, later jazz, etc., but in spite of them. And to the not-inconsiderable role rock and pop played in defeating international communism, it’s worth noting that pop music was constantly under attack in both the “free” world and behind the Iron Curtain.

For god’s sake, even the major record labels hated rock (prefering the phony folk music parlayed during the ’50s and early ’60s) for the longest time. And now, indie rockers are the new cronies.

In the Age of Obama, I guess there’s nothing hipper than Government Rock. Nothing says “rebellion” like taking handouts from The Man, it seems.

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Oh dang. That’s funny. It’s like wading in molasses, the irony is so thick.

GWB on May 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Oh, and ….
Bishop! ;)

GWB on May 7, 2013 at 12:37 PM

taking handouts from The Man is, like, you know, STICKING it to The Man. It’s like you’re in control

williampeck1958 on May 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Hope they choke. So sick and tired of flaming liberal indy rockers wearing their sick politics on their sleeves. Just shut up and sing. If you don’t suck, you won’t need a subsidy.

CurtZHP on May 7, 2013 at 1:04 PM

It’s corporate rock!

rbj on May 7, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Remember when the Joker from Batman said:

Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.

Well this is the same, but different. They’re entitled to this, dammit!

Just don’t ask artists like Lauren Hill to contribute her fair share.

redzap on May 7, 2013 at 1:13 PM

I wanna hold my gubmint check!

-The Beatles

Bubba Redneck on May 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Indie Rock

Dependie Rock

portlandon on May 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

In the Age of Obama, I guess there’s nothing hipper than Government Rock. Nothing says “rebellion” like taking handouts from The Man, it seems.

This is what personifies a American modern art: self destructive behavior over self motivation and self determination. Do drugs, sleep around, experiment with anything and everything, and let the man take care of the consequences.

Daemonocracy on May 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Too dumb to get and hold a day job.
Too stoned to actually practice and get good at playing an instrument soooooooo let’s get a government handout and take money from folk’s who work hard and are not tone deaf but are responsible.

F&CK LIBTARDS!!!!

Bubba Redneck on May 7, 2013 at 1:22 PM

I was in a writers’ group 10 years ago. Of course, they all hated Booosh with a vengeance and fully expected to be taken away to concentration camps as they protested Il Bush. Resist we much!

Then one of them got a $45,000 NEA grant. He accepted it and cashed that check, baby! In protest, of course.

PattyJ on May 7, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Dependie Rock

portlandon on May 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Have you seen the demographic at some “indie” shows? Might be more like “Depends Rock”.

GWB on May 7, 2013 at 1:51 PM

“We need to find new revenue streams”, said Rich Bengloff, president of the American Association of Independent Music

Yeah, like from the taxpayers.

pain train on May 7, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Meh. Nobody is indie.

Capitalist Hog on May 7, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Indie Rock

Dependie Rock

portlandon on May 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Leftie birds of a feather….

Steve Eggleston on May 7, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Actually, I see little irony in this. The indie rock scene is dominated by leftists and rabid Obama voters, Brooklyn being the current headquarters. They’ll welcome “the man” with open arms if he’s going to foot the bill because, after all, that’s the world they want.

Erich66 on May 7, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Actually, I see little irony in this. The indie rock scene is dominated by leftists and rabid Obama voters, Brooklyn being the current headquarters. They’ll welcome “the man” with open arms if he’s going to foot the bill because, after all, that’s the world they want.

Erich66 on May 7, 2013 at 3:18 PM

The big headliners of the established indie scene, people like Wayne Coyne and Jeff Tweedy, perform at benefits for Barack Obama all the time. Everyone else in that scene basically a SJW with a guitar and a fondness for preaching.

mintycrys on May 8, 2013 at 8:42 PM