[PMH 3.2 (2008) 171-193] doi:io.i558/pomh.v3i2.

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Popular Music History (print) ISSN 1740-7133 Popular Music History (online) ISSN 1743-1646

Pete Dale

It was easy, it was cheap, so what?:
Reconsidering the DIY principle of punk and indie music
Pete Dale is studying for a PhD in Music at Newcastle University under the supervision of Professor Richard Middleton. His research asks whether punk can be considered as a folk music. Prior to his academic studies, he ran an internationally respected DIY independent label and performed in several punk underground bands. Music Department Thomas Hepburn Community School Swards Rd Felling Gateshead Tyne and Wear, NE10 9UZ, UK PR.W.Dale@newcastle.ac.uk

Abstract
Today, the words 'indie' and 'independence' are commonly taken only to be connotative of a musical style, yet during an earlier punk/post-punk period they were used to denote a specific economic separateness from the major labels. This article examines the development of the indie sector in this earlier period, challenging a tendency to reify certain proponents of punk's DIY principle (Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP, Desperate Bicycles) by noting some significant antecedents and continuations of the indie 'Do It Yourself impetus. Contrasting the Rough Trade label against anarcho-punks Crass, the article also highlights the'cutie'or'C86'period in which indie is sometimes said to have become more about music and less about politics. The significance of MySpace and other recent technological developments are also considered. In conclusion, the article interrogates the political efficacy of the 'anyone can do it' principle associated with punk/indie's DIY ethic. Keywords: anarcho-punk, C86, DIY, independence, indie, Marxism, punk

An advertisement in Mojo magazine proclaims the words 'fiercely independent' in enlarged typewriter print. By the looks of it the typewriter must have taken some battering over the years: all of the 'e's have a shadow behind them and it would seem that the machine must have been running out of ink to boot. These fiercely independent labels are run on a shoestring though, aren't they? A new typewriter or indeed a fresh ribbon must beyond theirfinancialmeans, presumably. Although, strangely enough, two of the four records advertised are on Vapor Records, and they at least must have a sufficient budget for graphic design because the piaured front cover of an album by their 'newest signing' Everest is markedly professional.
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In the bottom left corner of the advertisement, in small print, it is revealed that all four of the piaured albums are distributed by ADA Global. The acronym stands for Alternative Distribution Alliance, 'the leading "indie" distribution company in the U.S.' according to Wikipedia. It is their half-broken typev\/riter, presumably, which provided the advertising banner, 'fiercely independent', as a description of the four items advertised.^ ADA are 95 per cent owned by Warner Music Group, the third largest of the 'Big Four' major record labels. It is not clear, therefore, what could possibly be 'independent' about their organization, nor why they are using a faulty typewriter. Perhaps, however, this element of 'independence' derives from the status of the labels they distribute. Vapor Records, it turns out, is owned by Reprise which, like ADA, is owned by WMG. Although the other two labels featured in the advert, Sonic36o and SuperEgo Records, are less dearly part of the major label system, a moment's internet research reveals dose connections to bands such as Coldplay and labels such as Geffen.-^ What should we make, then, of this obvious contradiction? Clearly, for one thing at least, that in the twenty-first century the descriptor 'independent' no longer denotes the strong separateness from 'the majors' which it did when the indie chart was first instigated in the UK. First published in 1980, the indie chart was set up by trade paper Record Business, appearing in the UK music magazine SoMWiis shortly after. Atthat time, it was felt that the independent (or'indie') labels, which had been blossoming in the UK since around 1977, were not earning accurate placings in the conventional chart due to their discs typically being retailed via specialist shops rather than through the mainstream retailers of the day. The indie labels issuing punk-orientated bands, most of which were fledgling 'DIY' (Do It Yourself) organizations with little or no business acumen and miniscule budgets, could thus measure their success independently from the majors. Labels such as Stiff, which had struck up production and distribution ('P and D') deals with major 1. Mojo magazine, issue 177 (August 2008): 49- All further details with regard to ownership of record labels and distributors derive from Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org.
2. To be precise about this, Sonic36o is owned by Chris Allison who has worked as producer for, amongst others, Coldplay SuperEgo, meanwhile, is owned by Aimee Mann, who came to prominence with Til Tuesday' under the aegis of industry giant Geffen records. Whilst both Allison and Mann may have some legitimacy in calling their labels 'independent' in some sense, therefore, their labels are certainly very different from the kind of bedroom-run (literally, in many cases) operations which were described as 'indie' labels in the late 1970s and first half of the 1980s. Sonic36o and SuperEgo, by contrast to such labels, are operated as serious businesses with reputations in the mainstream industry, not as DIY labels run by individuals with very little if any experience of the 'proper' music industry. They are not, in other words, 'fiercely independent' in the way that, for example, labels like Rough Trade, Factory and many, many others were in an earlier and very different period.

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labels, were precluded from inclusion in this indie chart, and such collaboration with a perceived enemy was strongly denigrated by upholders of what became known as the 'indie ethic'. At some point during the late 1980s to early 1990s indie ceased to be an abbreviation of the word independent, and thus ceased to denote a significant distinction from the major labels.^ Instead, indie has become widely understood to be a description of a musical style. The purpose of this article, therefore, is threefold: firstly, to examine the development of the indie seaor in the late 1970s and early 1980s, attemptingto think beyond certain case examples and interpretations which have probably been overused in scholarly examinations of punk and indie music; secondly, to examine carefully the period in which indie came to be understood as a style of music rather than as an economic modus operandi of sorts; and thirdly, to consider certain overtly political aspirations which punk and indie groups appear to have been trying to achieve by utilizing the DIY principle, and how these efforts are affected by the technological developments of the twenty-first century.

The development of DIY independent labels
'It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!' proclaimed the Desperate Bicycles at the conclusion of their 1977 'Smokescreen'/'Handlebars' single. Their follow-up 7", 'The Medium Was Tedium', issued later that year, took the same slogan and expanded it into a whole song: 'if you can understand', the singer instructs, 'go and form a band!' The flipside, 'Don't Back The Front', hammers home much the same message: 'cut it, press it, distribute it, xerox music's here at last!' murmurs a slightly tense sounding singer. The Desperate Bicycles have been rightly perceived as critical players in the development of the DIY indie scene (Laing 1985; Rosen 1997; Wendel 2008).
3. It is natural enough that, as the 1980s progressed, the kind of bands which appeared in the indie chart became known as 'alternative', for here was a 'totally separate world' (as Morrissey once described the realm in which his archetypal indie band the Smiths existed) in which a record could be regarded as a roaring success by achieving sales which, in the eyes of the majors, would on the contrary make it a flop. Thus Rough Trade reportedly struggled to meet the demand from sales of around 20,000 for a single like the Television Personalities' Where's Bill Grundy Now? EP, on the one hand, whilst Walter Yetnikoff, as head of CBS, once remarked that'if an artist can only sell 100,000 records, then this company is not interested in pursuing that artisf. on the other hand (Young 2006:60; Gronow and Saunio 1998:143). The alternative independent scene was retailing to a fraction of the available market, then, but it is worth noting that the yardstick-sales-was the same in both the indie chart and its mainstream correlate. Since major label bands such as The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Jesus and Mary Chain were known as 'alternative' during the 1980s and onwards, the present essay will avoid this descriptor and focus instead on the term indie which, in the early years of its coinage at least, was used to indicate a more specific 'institutional' separateness (Hesmondhaigh 1999).

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Though the Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP, self-released on their New Hormones label in early 1977, preceded and inspired the Desperate Bicycles' formation of their Refill Records label, it was the latter band which made a particular point of encouraging others to follow their example. Indeed, this desire to inspire others was manifested in sleeve notes detailing the production expenses (totalling £153 for 500 copies) and re-stating the need for others to also take the DIY approach: 'they'd really like to know why you haven't made your single yet...'. Subsequent to this, Scritti Politti printed the manufacturing costs involved in releasing their EPs in even more detail, itemizing the expenditure on cutting, processing and printing labels, and even noting the inclusion or otherwise of VAT The latter band's music was issued by Geoff Travis' Rough Trade, unarguably one of the most important institutions in the development of the independent seaor from 1976 onwards. As various studies have pointed out (Hesmondhalgh 1997; Rosen 1997; Kruse 2003; Young 2006; Wendel 2008) as a shop, record label and distributor. Rough Trade played a crucial role in developing certain methods and approaches which became standard in the indie scene. For example, the principle of splitting profits '50/50' between label and band (as opposed to offering the latter party around 10-12 per cent at best) has been commonly taken up by other independent labels. Likewise, Rough Trade's rather egalitarian strurture, wherein 'artists' in bands might also do 'grunt' work in the warehouse or office of the label, has been replicated by many other labels. There is no reason to think that such things occurred anterior to the rise of Rough Trade, and every reason to consider the label/shop/distributor as a critical factor in the explosion of DIY labels from 1976 onwards whereby 16,000 different punk records had been issued through 3,000 independent labels by 1982 (Gronow and Saunio 1998: lés)."^ Although these developments are clearly important in the emergence of a DIY aesthetic and the post-punk independent network there were actually several precursors which have been missed out of both scholarly and popular accounts of the post-punk movement. It is an interesting fact that critical early New York punk-affiliated band Television actually had their first single, 'Little Johnny Jewel', released by Terry Ork (Television's manager) on his own Ork label in 1975. Though this was not strictly a DIY release of the type the Desperate Bicycles would later exemplify by creating their own label to self-release music (and actively encouraging others to do the same), the fact that Ork was prepared to independently finance and manufacture the disc indicates that Geoff Travis was not in faa the first punk-related individual to risk his money by issuing recordings of fiedgling

4.

It is worth noting that, again, this book holds up the Desperate Bicycles, Scritti Politti,

Spiral Scratch and so on as the key influences upon this process.

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groups. Patti Smith's 1974 single 'Hey Joe', meanwhile, was self-released through Mer Records. In the same year, Greg Sage started his Bomp label with the 'You Tore Me Down' 7" by the Flamin' Groovies, on the grounds that he 'figured 1 could probably break even'. By that time. Sage had already been publishing his fanzine Who Put The Bomp? for four years. It is evident, in this and many other respects, then, that the DIY spirit of '77 was more of a building up of certain trends-'something in the air', or in the political economy, perhaps—than the 'year zero' it was once claimed to be. Part of this was a certain 'culture of resistance' which was abroad well before 1970 and which continued on in British cultural life at least up to the 1990s but had burned particularly strongly through a punk band called Crass in the late 1970s and early 80s (McKay 1996). Part of it was people just wanting to hear new music, a thing which ageing ex-punks can often be heard stating they were desperate for in the years leading up to 1976 and 1977. But partly it was simply a technological development: socalled Xerox music appeared because basic multi-track recording equipment was being mass-produced as never before, and because Xerox copiers enable fanzine writers to easily produce discourse about the recordings produced.

Music first
Whatever the extent of Rough Trade's supplementation of the traces that went into punk and post-punk, the overwhelming increase in quantities of self-financed DIY releases from 1977 onwards was certainly a significant development in the history of popular music. Rough Trade's significance as an alternative to the majors was even mentioned in a song, 'Rough Trade', by the label's most commercially successful early group. Stiff Little Fingers. Although the song's lyrical statement that they were 'gonna do it temselves' and 'make it on our own 'cause we've found people to trust, people who put musicfirst...'^might be seen as ironic given that the band would be signed to Chrysalis records within a few months, the fact that the label was held in sufficiently high esteem for a band to name one of its songs after them refiects the kind of loyalty Rough Trade was able to inspire. It is also notable, however, that Stiff Little Fingers emphasize the importance ofthe label being 'people who put music first'. A similar impression was made upon Cabaret Voltaire, another significant early Rough Trade group, with regard to label-boss Geoff Travis in particular: Music was his passion and that was enough. Whenever people mentioned his name, it was followed by, 'Geoff? Great pair of ears' (Stephen Mallinder, quoted
in Young 2006:33).

5. Stiff Little Fingers, 'Rough Trade', Inflammable Material, EMI, EMC 3554,1989 (originally issued on Rough Trade, 1979).

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David Hesmondhalgh has also come to much the same conclusion, stating that 'musicians and staff at Rough Trade tended to be more interested in popular music history than the Crass anarchists' (1999:40-41)- Hesmondhalgh notes that 'Crass was more explicitly and actively political than most of the Rough Trade bands and staff, offering a fair generalization of the latter as being socialist in their orientation, in contrast to the former's avowed anarchistic ambitions. This political division being noted, it is worth reflecting for a moment on the Desperate Bicycles' encouragement towards participation: putting out a single, as they amply demonstrated, was and remains fairly easy and cheap; why, it remains worth wondering however, should we go and do it? What, exactly, is the aim of this 'doing it'? It is clear that the gauntlet 'they'd really like to know why you haven't made your single yet...' was always a problematical step towards having 'no more time for spectating', to use the Desperate Bicycles words. Spectating, after all, could be a pleasant activity. One doesn't need to have the 'great pair of ears' as attributed above to Rough Trade's Geoff Travis to see that, without a critical dimension, the release of a DIY 7" is a rather pointless exercise: why would one want to make music without ever hearing comments, good or bad, on its merits or otherwise? Spectating, in other words, is a necessary element within the political economy of music-making; the DIY indie scene which grew on after the Desperate Bicycles involved speaating without question. The scene's special contribution to the history of popular music, however, is that it encouraged maximal participation. Anyone can do it, they said; but in practice, indie/punk/DlY cultures have been uniformly hermetic, sealed cultures because, at a guess, not everyone wants to do it. Anyone became 'us', in other words, hence the common complaint that indie scenes are elitist. Rough Trade's and others' solution to the paradoxes inherent to the DIY ethic was to push beyond the 'indie ghetto', and to attempt to take its bands into the mainstream. Given that they were 'people who put music first', the move is quite understandable; from the point of view of encouraging participation, however, it could only be a step in the wrong direaion. Before considering some consequences of this step towards the mainstream, it is worth first considering the differing ambitions of Crass and like-minded bands and labels from the 'anarchopunk' scene, who we can reasonably typify as people who put politics first.

Politics first
Another strand in DIY activism within the independent scene can be seen through the example of the band Crass and their affiliated labels and bands. Crass were not a socialist band, and though they seized the control of manufaaure, distribution and exchange by creating their own label, and aided others in doing the same, © Equinox Publishing Ltd 2009.

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their ambitions went far beyond this. Moreover, Crass attempted to confront authorities beyond the music industry, including the church, the army and the government. The band's activities raised questions In the House of Commons and other corridors of power on many occasions, including the famous enquiry ini984 of a Labour backbencher as to whether the Prime Minister would take time out of her busy schedule to listen to the record 'How Does It Feel To Be The Mother Of A Thousand Dead?' For more on this and Crass' numerous other seditious activities, there is plenty of material available for the interested reader (McKay 1996; Rimbaud 1998; Berger 2006; Glasper 2006). This wider interest in anti-authoritarian politics is relevant to the present discussion because it is precisely this ambition—to 'fuck the system', to use one of the punk movement's favourite crudities—which seems to so often get forgotten in scholarly accounts of the indie movement According to Hesmondhaigh, Crass' reported complaint of a 'sell-out' with regard to the takeover of One Little Indian by PolyGram, 'masl<s...the achievements which such collaboration sometimes allows' (1999: 44). Yet this argument could never be accepted by the band themselves because, though One Little Indian may thereby have enabled a 'commitment to fostering talent, and to providing [a musical] alternative', such was never the ostensible intention of Crass and the anarcho-punk movement. On the contrary, this wing of the punk movement professed to want anarchy in the UK not 'maybe', as the Sex Pistols had sung on EMI, but definitely, and sooner rather than later. Given the connotations of the term in more recent years, the reader might feel a little surprised to see an archetypal punk band such as Crass defined as indie. Yet certainly, in the denotative sense of being independent from the majors, this was the case and, furthermore. Crass were almost certainly the biggest selling indie group around 1980 when they are reputed to have sold 250,000 copies of their self-released Stations of the Crass LP (Hesmondhaigh 1999). Indeed, more than any other group. Crass have inspired many hundreds (possibly thousands) of other bands and labels to utilize the DIY approach (Glasper 2006; Blush 2001). By 1983, however, it is clear that the group-as anarchists—had become understandably uncomfortable with their defacto role as 'reluctant leaders' of the scene (Glasper 2006), hence their decision to release the Yes Sir, I V\/ill LP. The latter was notoriously challenging, even to the punk audience, indeed, especially to this constituency: Penny Rimbaud of Crass has stated this to have been a deliberate intention, more or less. By the time the group split up, around 1984, it was clear that, as a strategy for anti-authoritarianism, the anarcho-punk analysis could not cope with its own contradiaions. Penny Rimbaud told me as much when I asked him whether he was tempted, around that time, to 'galvanize a National army of punks':

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We started planning that big march [in 1984]. didn't we? And we'd got huge support for it. That was a real testing point because we realised that, yes, this could work, we could get thousands of people marching from Sellafield or Windscale, whichever it's called now, and we were going to call in at all of the different nuclear installations down to Westminster. And 1 think that there was no question that we probably would have got a good few thousand people marching daily-a, sort of, Jarrow march-but there was also no question that there'd be helicopters, riot police and a lot of violence...

It was clear from Rimbaud's comments during this discussion that they 'had to look at their responsibility to people' for whom, effectively, they were leaders, and that the march was cancelled as a result. It is therefore rather skewed to say that Crass, the label and band, folded due to the 'demands of authenticity' (Gosling 2004: 177). Rather than some vague allegiance to the problematic concept of authenticity, the problem for Rimbaud and Crass was connected to very specific contradirtions within anarchist ideology, if indeed we can even speak of such a thing. The problem, in other words, was that whilst anyone can 'do it yourself in theory, some will inevitably have a certain power to create a durable statement which, in practice, not everyone is likely to be able to create; and the spreading of power desired by the DIY ethic of the punk/indie movements was problematic from the words 'go and do it', therefore. The early indie scene, which grew out of what is usually called the 'first wave' of punk, was all about seizing power: young peopie ('the kids') were taking hold of the means of production, and the DIY ethic offered a clear glimpse of empowerment for individuals. How, then, did 'indie' become, according to Hesmondhaigh, 'a popular music genre' whilst the term 'independent', in the twenty-first century, would appear to be applicable to almost any record label or distribution regardiess of corporate affiliation?

You either get bought out or die?
According to Rob Young, in 1986, 'in the wake of the Smiths and the host of lesser groups brandishing jangly guitars and snappy choruses, "indie" was beginning to take on a specific definition, flagging up a particular kind of music, instead of the circumstances of its production and release' (2006:117). In keeping with widelyheld vernacular opinion. Young associates this development with the 'twee ditties' of the C86 compilation cassette which was issued the same year: Far from its intended celebration of the state of indie, C 6 exposed the problems S
of a watered down scene: in a post-Smiths world, there was now a wave of imitators instead of a new inspiring breed (Young 2006:119).

6.

Author interview, Newcastle, March 19,2007.

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Likewise, Simon Reynolds has complained of this 'scene known variously as "cutie", "shambling bands" or T5Í'", primarily on the grounds that 'it was post-punk with the most radical elements (the politics, the black/white fusion, the studio experimentation) purged' (2005:522). Like many other journalists of the day writing for the British rock weeklies (NMF, Sounds, Record Mirror and Melody Maker), Reynolds turned during the ensuing years to rap, dance and, to a lesser extent, US 'alternative rock' (which had developed a rather different post-punk trajectory from the UK scene about which more detail will be given shortly) for music about which to write. Guitar-based post-punk indie pop music, on the other hand, became frequently denigrated in the UK rock press for being too 'white', too fey and too ineptly played. It is difficult to see, however, how the alleged deficiencies of post-CSé' indie music resulted in the obscuration of the earlier emphasis upon the means of production and the DIY ethic which, a few years earlier, had been the crux of the indie scene. Certainly record sales were poorer in the independent seaor by 1987, and the economic situation volatile enough that certain key organizations such as Red Rhino went out of business that year. Yet this seems to have been the consequence of, on the one hand, poor management within the indie distribution companies, and on the other hand, former indie bands (most notably, the Smiths, but there were many other crucial examples from the mid-1980s onwards) signing to major labels (Young 2006). Where once the independent sector had effectively formed a single unit of decidedly like-minded individuals desirous of an alternative to the major label system, by 1988 the former sense of solidarity appears to have largely evaporated and the indie scene, more than ever, had simply become a feeding ground for the industry proper. More and more indie labels therefore perceived collaboration with the majors as necessity rather than as an option, hence Creation Records' Alan McGee's well-known remark that 'there's only two things that happen with independent labels... you either get bought out or die. And that's it. There is no middle ground' (Hesmondhalgh 1999:51). In practice, many large labels such as Dischord, Alternative Tentacles, Touch and Go and many others in the US, and significant organizations such as Southern Records and Shellshock Distribution in the UK, have managed to remain independent without failing as businesses. Strangely, academic work on the process of incorporation of indie labels by the majors has often overlooked this fact. For example, Stephen Lee's work on Wax Trax! repeatedly refers to the'inevitability'of co-optation and states flatly that 'the goal of a parallel industry, is difficult, if not impossible to achieve' (1995: 20). At the time his article was published, however, the distinctive DIY ethos of the punk/post-punk indie scene had a pedigree of nearly 20 years, with many micro-independent DIY labels operating to their own

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economic satisfartion during the 1990s (Strachan 2007). Today, 30 years since the Buzzcocks issued Spiral Scratch, the instigation of DIY labels remains popular as a conscious resistance to the hegemony of the major labels and the mainstream music industry.'' One of Lee's fundamental beliefs seems to be that independence represents 'a vague ideological agenda of difference' (1995:28). Similarly, Hesmondhaigh insists that, since Crass 'relied on an "outside" cultural entrepreneur to facilitate its early recordings [therefore] there v^/as no pure, original moment v^/here anarcho-punl< v^as "untainted" by entrepreneurialism' (1999: 4o). Likewise, Matthew Bannister has argued that 'it is often suggested that indie is now a commodity; its "purity" defiled by sellouts, buyers and mergers... However, in what sense was indie "pure" to begin with?' (2006: xxiv). It is difficult, however, to see what these writers perceive to be so vague about the idea of independence. Surely a label like Faaory, which was initiated from a tiny budget and operated on a shoestring for many years, dividing profits 50/50 with its bands, and which did not sign contracts with bands in principle, and which demonstrably placed enthusiasm for music (and record packaging) above concern for profit, is thus overwhelmingly different from a corporate giant such as EMI? When One Little Indian was bought out by PolyGram, it was no longer an independent label ofthe pure type; provided one is not pejorative with regard to this idea of purity, there seems little room for confusion.^ Though history has shown Lee's insistence that 'goals of independence [were] doomed to fail from the outset' to be ill-founded, it is true that many former indie labels perceived it to be necessary to merge with (or, more frankly, be bought out by) the majors in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many others, including key labels like Rough Trade and Factory went out of business during the same period. Others, such as Creation and to some extent Matador and others in the US, became

7.

Not quite a class conscious resistance, of course, but one with a strong sense of social

bond and, essentially, solidarity, nevertheless. 8. It seems clear, therefore, that this scholarly focus upon purity (or alleged lack thereof) is a pejorative one. Hesmondhaigh, for example, would appear to be suggesting that the financial and recording support of John Loder (the 'entrepreneur' in question, whom Hesmondhaigh erroneously refers to as John Lauder. seemingly unaware that Loder had in fact acted as soundman for Penny Rimbaud's pre-Crass counter-cultural hippy group Exit and was, therefore, hardly an 'outsider' in the sense that he seems to wish to imply) somehow de-legitimizes Crass' independence. Admittedly paying money to a manufacturing plant in order to press vinyl discs occurs within a capitalist system, and thus the independent labels are not entirely separate from capitalism. But the fact that Crass, to use his example, would literally give away food, very regularly play benefit gigs for little or nothing, sell their records for little more than cost price, and so on, hardly leaves any mystery as to their difference from a major label or mainstream rock band. © Equinox Publishing Ltd 2009.

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major-owned indies, oxymoronically enough.^ The question is whether this tendency towards receivership and bankruptcy was precipitated by the scene normally associated with the C86 cassette, as many appear to have believed, or perhaps by other factors. One explanation has been that 'the retreat of indie as a genre into a market niche meant that the independent networks were hit badly by the economic recession of 1988-92' (Hesmondhalgh 1999: 39). Yet if falling sales were the causative factor in the indie networks' difficulties not all labels went into decline. For example, Sarah-the classic 'cutie' label, it is fair to say—was able to begin trading in 1987, at the outset of the perceived sales slump, and operated as a financially viable DIY label for seven years without falling foul of this 'economic recession'. Sarah Records, that said, was a tiny company with a staff of two. The biggest shock to the international indie scene seems to have been the collapse of the Cartel (a collective distribution network created in the early years of punk) in 1990, followed by the collapse of Rough Trade (which had played a critical role in the formation of the Cartel and was directly responsible for distributing many of the most important indie labels) the followingyear. These critical economic collapses were partly the consequence of mismanagement during a time of extraordinary growth. The Smiths are said to have been selling around half a million of each of their five albums released on Rough Trade between 1983 and 1987 (Young 2006). The label, along with Rough Trade distribution, suffered a classic case of boom and bust. Admittedly the bands on C86 were poor contenders for the title 'the next Smiths', for Rough Trade were lucky enough to be the Smiths' second choice after EMI declined to sign them in 1983 (though, by 1987, they eventually managed to wrestle back what they could have bought earlier and more cheaply; the move to EMI, that said, is considered to have precipitated the demise of the Smiths in the process). A band with such a strong image and well-crafted songs is a rare beast indeed. Yet, in business terms, it is obvious that, if Rough Trade and the Cartel had 'down-shifted' their expeaations (and, from an economic point of view, let some staff go) after the Smiths' demise in '87, they could quite reasonably have expeaed to have continued trading. The presumption of stable trading conditions and sales growth, in other words, is significantly to blame for the indie scene's economic problems in the late 1980s: the idea that post-Smiths indie guitar bands could match the sales of their forebears was probably never realistic.

9. Matador was co-run by Gerard Cosloy (formerly of renowned and respected indie label Homestead, and the stridently anti-major Conflict fanzine) and Chris Lombardi. When they arranged for their label to be funded by Atlantic in 1993, punk idealists such as Tim Yohannon at Maximum Rock'n'Roll faminethrewgrealscom upon Matador in general and Cosloy in particular. Despite this history of connection with the majors, many have called Matador an indie label. © Equinox Publishing Ltd 2009.

PoputAR Music HISTORY

Reassessing C86
The period under discussion coincides with certain crucial geo-political shifts, we should note. Restruauring within the weekly music paper NME, a key site for the promotion of indie, brought a reorientation away from post-C86 indie music. The political climate, according to Rob Young, was such that IPC (the multinational publishing giant which also owned Melody Maker) replaced NME editor Ian Pye with Alan Lewis in 1987. Pye had printed interviews with Derek Hatton and Tony Benn, even using Neil Kinnock as cover star shortly before Labour's third consecutive defeat; one of Lewis' early cover stars was The Sun's Page 3 star turned pop singer Samantha Fox, by contrast. Young reports that IPC gave Lewis the precise Instruction to 'focus on pop music'; no wonder, then, that the 'shambling' form of indie 'pop' found it hard to garner much support from the UK's most significant rock weekly (the only one, it is worth adding, that still exists today).^° The lack of ambition to sell beyond an 'indie ghetto', meanwhile, seems a peculiar stick with which to beat the 'shambling' bands of the so-called (post-C«6) cutie scene: separateness from the mainstream, after all, had been the rationale of the entire program of creating an independent network. Indeed, ghettoization would appear to be a necessary consequence of the idea of independence; an idea once denotated by the word 'indie', and still connotative of the heroic 'little guy'. In fact, the c. 1986-88 indie scene was largely consistent with earlier forms of post-punk, despite Simon Reynolds' claims to the contrary. Admittedly the 'studio experimentation' he has praised in certain earlier post-punk groups was uncommon in the later era, but it is also the case that the bulk of groups covered in his mammoth survey of post-punk from 1978-84, Rip It Up and Start Again, predominantly also lack much in the way of such experimentation (especially those referenced and hinted at in the contents page for the first half of the book, well over half of which were decidedly unexperimental in studio terms). Indeed, about one third of the groups featured on C86 are actually an obvious extension from the musical experimentalism of earlier post-punk groups such as the Fall (granddaughters and grandsons, in other words, of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band), and not at all 'cutie' (Young 2006). As to the alleged 'whiteness' of the late '80s indie groups, punk and postpunk scenes have always been predominantly populated by whites. In any case, Winston from the Brilliant Corners, Sushil from the Soup Dragons and Jyoti from White Town show that there were in fact exceptions disproving the rule which Reynolds would promote. These three were all 'white' sounding bands, but not actually as white in the literal sense as, say, the Pop Group (whom Rip It Up would

10. Young 2006: 50.

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seem to argue, ironically enough, as 'black' sounding). An influence from funk in the music of blG fLAME and other groups which appeared on NME's C86 tape is clearly identifiable; several members of cutie-orientated bands were not 'white'; and these elements of Reynolds' assertion are challengeable at best. Politically, meanwhile, it is clear that much of the indie scene normally associated with C86 was entirely analogous from the earlier DIY punk scene, as refleaed in the following comments from a 1986 issue of Are You Scared To Get Happy? fanzine (arguably the cutie bible);
now's the time to act...don't just write to us, write to the bands, write to each other, write YOUR OWN FANZINE...everybody riot, in print... TAKE AND CREATE!

The politics of this later indie scene, in other words, was more in line with the kind of 'go and do it' DIY impulse demonstrated by the Desperate Bicycles a decade earlier, than with the more explicitly anti-authoritarianism of Crass and the anarcho-punks. AYSTGHTs writer Matt Haynes, who went on to set up Sarah Records the following year, makes a nevertheless telling hint towards the 'old school' of punk in the first Sarah zine;
Nelson Street, Wednesday at nine, cold and downtrodden but then finding one ioneiy 'ANGRY' [the 'A' is circled in the classic anarcho-punk style in the original text] paintsprayed in bloodred on freshly scrubbed tiles and feeling that adrenalin surge, THAT prickle across the skin, and finding it's somehow THE SAME... same lump in the throat, same wide-open eyes, same urge to just RUN.

This experience, Haynes reveals, was made on the way to sign on at the dole office, again linking the 'cutie' scene with a crucial location in the psycho-geography of the earlier punk scene ('dole queue rock', as it was once known). Though the zine is socialist in general orientation ('we have to get the Tories out of power somehow', Haynes states emphatically), like the hardliners of the anarcho-punk movement it is also not averse to criticizing the Labour Party for 'watering down its socialism'. The post-C86 indie scene did in faa have some strong similarities with the politics of the earlier DIY indie scene. Its alleged musical weakness was not the only factor in its relative poverty in the market place, furthermore (many major labels today would not sniff at the kinds of sales figures attained by indie bands such as 1988 'festive fifty' winners House of Love, it is worth noting). Why, then, did so many indie distributors and labels collapse in financial chaos in the late 1980s and early 90s? As noted above, primarily due to business errors related to excessive ambition; the sales success of the Smiths, in particular, as much as anything caused the downfall of its label and distributor Rough Trade, ironically enough (Young 2006).

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In a sense, therefore, the indie scene undermined itself during the period in question by adopting an essentially Marxist strategy as opposed to the greater mutuality and cooperativeness of the more-anarchistic pre-Smiths post-punk indie movement. Initially, indie labels and distributors formed a micro-sphere in which competition for sales was less prominent, and in which power was more shared out. By the late 1980s, indie fans were demanding that 'our bands' deserved to become pop proper, as it were: to infiltrate the mainstream, in other words, a total revolution but with musical style as the battleground. Consider, for example, the following comments from Searching for the Young Soul Rebels fanzine, 1987:
Look, I want the Clouds to take on the likes of Curiosity Killed The Cat in the latters [sic] terms-do the whole thing, y'know. Smash Hits, No. 1, the Wide Awake C/íííí-and win... They could teach U2 (and Hurrah!) a thing or two about playing stadiums as well, and why not? The Beatles did it with style."

The zine-writer was of course backing the wrong horse, for the Clouds issued one cute-sounding single on tiny indie label Subway in 1987 and then split up. As the 1980s turned over to the 1990s, however, groups such as Stone Roses, the Primitives and James led the way for a legion of 'indie-sounding' groups such as the Inspirai Carpets and the Mock Turtles to 'do the whole thing'. At one time, whether indie and punk bands should or shouldn't appear on Top of the Pops had been a common debate. By the mid-to-late 1990s, however, it seemed that indie bands—the hyphenated descriptor now becomes one of genre, not of institutional structure, for bands described as 'indie' in the 1990s were often signed to major labels and their subsidiaries—were the bulk of the average instalment of Top of the Pops.

Indie/Independence
Beyond cultural capital, the semantic shift in question has reaped great profits for the majors. In addition to the provision of free market research prior to A&R cherry picking by the big six' (as it was then), which had long been an ironic byproduct of the indie scene, from a market control perspective also the new-sense indie scene was, now, no longer a nuisance. On the contrary, major labels became able to inject relatively small sums into the 'schmindie' labels and then claim rights on any product which attained higher sales. A thoroughly partisan and hilariously

11. Peter, Searching for The Young Soul Rebels fanzine, Kent, 1987. The reference to Hurrah! was a consequence of their appearance as support act to U2 at a stadium concert of the same year. Certainly the U2 support slot did not enable further success-by the 1990s the group were reduced to headlining the miniscule venue Joe Wilson's in Newcastle which could house about 50 people at the most. U2'sfortunes, of course, have been rather different.

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muck-slinging account of this process was provided by Maximum Rock'n'Roll fanzine's 1994 special issue Major Labels: Some of Your Friends Are Already This Fucked.^^

Sporting a front cover image of somebody putting a gun in their own mouth (and this within weeks of Kurt Cobain's death, though the zine writers have claimed it to be coincidence), the various articles featured describe, in short, the extent to which the majors had bought out the indie scene. Perhaps surprisingly there has been little discussion ofthat process from the academic community. Hesmondhaigh has described some of the mechanisms, noting for example that 1990s 'indie' bands such as Oasis, Suede and Ash were affiliated to mega-corporations Sony and BMG via middle-man 'pseudo-indie' labels such as Creation, Nude and Infeaious (1999; 52-3). Regrettably, however, he makes muddy the most obvious distinaion: having noted the 1992 takeover of Creation records (one year before they released the first Oasis single) by Sony, he goes on to comment a few pages later that 'the marketing campaign for Oasis... suggests that some aspects of...traditional rock strategies are still operable for British independents in the isgos'?^ The contradiction of previous denotative referentiality—Creation is simultaneously majority owned by Sony and 'independent'-is typical of vernacular discourse in the 1990s. In most British parlours, there was a general sense of what type of music, clothing and haircuts one might expea from an indie band; in short, a basic mix of 'sixties'-recalling aesthetics blended with small concessions to more contemporary elements. In the twenty-first century, there seems not a flicker of confusion when half of the bands on a compilation CD given away with The Sunday Times entitled The State of Independence are actually signed to V2 records. Richard Branson's V2 is owned by Universal Music Group, the largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry; and alongside the V2 bands on the CD, the remainder ofthe featured artists also turn out to have publishing deals with the likes of EMI or to be signed to record labels which are either owned or distributed by one ofthe majors. What the compilation can tell us about the state of independence, then, is open to interpretation. Yet the 'old school' desire to separate strongly from the mainstream persists (Strachan 2007). How, it is worth wondering, then, could we make clearer the difference between the new-sense connotation of'indie' and its previous denotation? One solution could be, for example, to use the term indie as a genre-marker and independent to mark actual institutional differences, as Wendel has recently more or less suggested (2008: 29). DIY independent might be a further useful marker.

12. For an online reproduction of this text, see http://www.arancidamoeba.com/mrr/ 13- Hesmondhaigh (1999:49).

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or perhaps Strachan's descriptor 'micro-independent', indeed a taxonomy would doubtless be possible and likely be fruitful. We can shorthand labels with such a desire as DIY independent or micro-independent, in order to distinguish from the kind of large labels such as Domino records (home of multi-million-selling acts such as Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand). Domino in particular may have some legitimacy in calling itself independent in a certain sense, but it is clearly not operating in quite the same way as labels such as Small Wonder, Dischord, Sarah, SST, Ron Johnson, Gravity, Flat Earth, Emancypunx and countless others from the last three decades.'"^ The latter DIY independent labels were not only begun on a shoestring but, crucially, also show little or no interest in using pluggers, press agents, nor any of the promotional mechanics of the mainstream industry; on the contrary, they seem content to operate within a microcosm (or a multiplicity of microcosms, in practice).''^ It is theoretically possible that Domino could have managed to fund the video accompanying Franz Ferdinand's breakthrough Take Me Out' single without any financial link to a larger label. Whatever the legitimacy of the label's claim to being an independent label, the professionalism of the video itself (indeed, even the fart that a promotional video was made) and the necessary negotiations which enabled the video to get aired so regularly on, for example, MTV2 months prior to the single's release, make Domino quite distinrt from the DIY independents listed above, none of which do much in the way of promotion of records. There remains a great number of DIY micro-independent labels still existing at the present time.''^ Such labels have been markedly more underground in the UK than in the US, possibly reflecting differences of national social-chararter (Gosling 2004) though also perhaps simply as a simple consequence of differing market size and other economic fartors (particularly in the 1990s, when the US economy was

14. It is questionable whether some of these labels could be called micro-independent, on the grounds that Dischord in particular, and SST to a lesser extent, have had runaway sales success with particular titles. Yet though reported sales have reached around 150,000 for certain of Dischord's releases by Fugazi, thus making them the biggestfishin the post-i98os underground scene, even these sales remain modest from the major industry's point of view, and Dischord therefore remains a specialist retailer in what I call a micromatic part of the available market. My theory of micromatic and macromatic structures, and their pertinence to the punk underground, is expanded in my forthcoming PhD thesis at Newcastle's ICMus. 15. With regard to Dischord (see previous footnote), when I visited their warehouse and office space in 1999 and 2001,1 found it to be impressively large and their ability to employ several individuals remarkable given the fact that they opt out of promotion almost entirely. Again, however, compared with large multinational record labels, their organization operates from a minor annual turnover. 16. For example. Gringo, Fortuna Pop, Irrrk, Undereducated, Local Kid, Where It's At Is Where You Are, Unlabel, Jealous and many others in the UK alone. © Equinox Publishing Ltd 2009.

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unprecedentedly strong, disposable income more available and start-up capital more easily generated).''^ A British DIY label today might well be content with sales of 500. In the US, it is also common for labels to feel quite satisfied if a release 'breaks even' (generates capital similar to that which went into manufaauring it) with small sales, although records by Fugazi, Slint, Shellac and others have sold quantities in the 1990s similar to and beyond sales attained in the UK's late 70s/ early 80s DIY boom. In a strong sense, then, the institutional ethos of the DIY independent scene since the 1990s is correlative to that of the pre-Smiths era; a sense of being content to funrtion as a microcosm of the larger music industry. Some elements render this microcosm immanent within the mainstream industry, in the sense that bands such as Green Day, for example, might move from selling thousands on then-DlY label Lookout! to selling millions on WEA. The move (a 'sell-out', many have said of Green Day in particular) thus creates a much complained-about connection between underground and mainstream. The fact that a smaller scene still exists, in which signing to a major is deemed to be cause for complaint, reflects the persistence of a punk-orientated ethos comparable to that associated with the likes of Crass and the Desperate Bicycles, nevertheless. Underground micro-scenes still exist in the twenty-first century, then; it is difficult, indeed, to see how things could be otherwise, for they certainly existed prior to 1977. Since the early 1990s, the punk-related DIY ethos has been more vehemently adhered to in the US than in the UK. The crucial event ofthat historical moment, in popular music history terms, is not considered to be the 1991 invasion of Kuwait by Sadam Hussein but, rather, the invasion of the Billboard charts by Nirvana.''^ In the UK, around this time, the majors quietly took over the indie margins and, consequently, it became very difficult for the ideological element within the earlier indie 17. For example, Troubleman Unlimited of Bayonne, New Jersey, which issued three L s P by my band Red Monkey between 1998 and 2001, was set up by working-class Italian American
Mike Simonetti. Mike worked a 'day-job' for years as a pizza delivery boy, then later by providing dog-walking services to wealthy 'Manhattanites', pouring much of his earnings into Troubleman. Significant capital-raising in the UK through such means would have been difficult to manage during the same period, however. 18. It is worth noting, however, that shortly before his success with Nevermind in 1991, Cobain wrote (but did not post) a letter to Eugene Kelly of the Vaselines in which he wrote: We won the [Iraq] war Patriotic hypocrisy is in full effect. We have the privilege of purchasing Desert Storm trading cards, fiags, bumper stickers, and many video versions of our triumphant victory. When I walk down the street I feel like I'm at a Nuremberg rally. Hey, maybe we can tour together and burn American flags onstage?
Quoted in Charles C Cross, Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain (London: Sceptre, 2001), 191.

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scene to remain apparent; overwhelmingly, labels like Creation were described as independent labels and, therefore, indie ideologues became the source of incomprehension as much as derision. In the US, on the other hand, a concerted anti-major underground was supported by outspoken labels such as K records (whose International Pop Underground convention of 1991 has been somewhat mythologized by Arnold 1993, though I recall that it had already acquired canonic status in the underground prior to her published account), Dischord (whose flagship band Fugazi remain the iconic US independent/underground band) and Kill Rock Stars (which was a vital support for the Riot GrrrI movement of 1992-94, in itself an inheritor of the indie ethic as previously seen in anarcho-punk and the cutie scene), amongst others. All three of these just-mentioned labels operate on the 50/50 band/label profit split established by labels like Rough Trade in the 1970s. All three employ 'artists' of the label as, simultaneously, workers of a more conventional sense in their offices and warehouses. All three have sold tens of thousands of individual titles during the last fifteen years. And there are a great deal of other labels like them, though fewer with comparable sales histories. This is not always recognized in histories of independent labels. For example, Stephen Mallinder of Cabaret Voltaire recently remarked that 'the whoie...idea that after costs the split was 5O-5O...was unheard of then as I'm sure it is now' (Young 2006; 30). In fact, there is no institutional aspect of the Rough Trade organization c. 1978-82 (to use the seemingly most-popular-with-researchers example) which couldn't be correlated with examples from more recent years. This demonstrates an existing continuum of labels which operate with business practices informed by original indie ethics. It may not be as easy as it once was to actually sell them, and it's certainly not as cheap to press 500 singles in the twenty-first century as compared with 1977, but it would appear that the option of 'doing it' associated with the acronym DIY is still available today. Why, however, should we want to? This remains a burning question which, surprisingly, rarely seems to get asked, if ever. Why do 'it'? Particularly if'anyone can do it', as many in punk have been quick to argue; why bother, then? Why not just leave it to some other anyone?

Digital technologies and DIY
Recent developments in technology have begun to make such questions more pressing, because of course it has never been easier to make recordings a n d overwhelmingly in the West-the internet has rendered it relatively cheaper as well as obviously more facile for recordings to be made available for a large audience. © Equinox Publishing Ltd 2009.

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What are we to make of such new developments in the light of experiences sketched out above? Conceiving of the difference between Rough Trade and MySpace as a 'binary', Wendel (2008) makes a rather gushing case for web-based twenty-first-century social networks as the perfea solution to the 'pipe dream during the post-punk period' that anyone could do it; by contrast, Myspace, Facebook and so on, according to Wendel, are 'effectively circumventing old limitations [and consequently] the promise ofanyone can do it" cannot be understated' (2008:16, 51). The problem, of course, is that the differences between Rough Trade and MySpace are not truly binaristic but, rather, an analogical continuation, as I have implied with the chronological sketching offered above. Indeed, Wendel acknowledges as much by stating that 'independent artists [who] have used MySpace [have been] motivated by the participatory "anyone can do it" mindset stemming from early moments' (2008: 62; that said, he also denies the connection earlier in his text, arguing that it is 'impossible to explicitly link post-punk's "anyone can do it" approach to music making to the accessibility of contemporary Web 2.0 platforms like MySpace', 25). The citation is too vague: which 'moments'? Much more happened between 1977 and 2007 than just the Desperate Bicycles and Rough Trade, as Wendel acknowledges himself in his conclusion. The differences between some of the 'moments' I have written of here are not entirely discrete: Riot GrrrI, in the early 1990s, for example, involved individuals with affiliations to the C86-re\ated scene of the late 1980s (Blaze 2007): elements of the C86-re\ated indie scene drew on aspeas of anarcho-punk and so on. Wendel's analysis is quasi-Marxist in the same manner as the proselytizers of a 'new mainstream' had been in an earlier period, with new technology now conceived as the total revolutionary solution to problems of inequality with regard to the distribution of cultural capital. In this respect his work does not quite follow on logically from Paul Rosen's (1997), though both are in favour of new technology. For where Wendel would appear to see web-based social networks as an end per se, Rosen clearly views technology as the means to an end: 'the lesson from this case study [of Rough Trade and the Desperate Bicycles, again] is that anarchists need to address technology and culture simultaneously in our attempts to transform society' (1997:114). The difference is not so subtle, nor is it especially difficult to grasp: one analysis largely generalizes technology as an eradicator of hierarchy whilst the other emphasizes a wider social transformation in which 'independence itself is no longer the crucial issue'. Rosen makes the latter remark with dismay at the faa that 'I've even been told that BMl is independent' (therefore the descriptor is bankrupt, he seems to imply). Wendel, on the other hand, suggests that for

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independent practitioners especially, there is an ongoing need to not only be aware of existing network structures and affordances, but also to be mindful of their positionality insofar as they may or may not have opportunities to be actively involved in processes that might determine or reshape those structures (2008:92).

Wendell offers us few clues as to how we might recognize these 'independent practitioners' nor how to identify the detail of the structures they allegedly wish to 'reshape'. It is clear that Wendel is sympathetic to the indie ideal: he warns, for example, of 'the risk that dominant discourses [by which he implies himself, elsewhere in the text, to mean the majors] might re-emerge elsewhere' (2008: 29). The trouble, however, is that the majors have always already emerged before, during and through the entire project of DIY/indie/alternative/punk microcosms. In a footnote, for example, Wendel refers to Beggars Banquet as an 'independent record label'. Given that Beggars is distributed by ADA (see above), this can be considered to be quite false, however: ADA is 95 per cent WMG, therefore Beggars Banquet and its subsidiaries could not have been eligible for inclusion in the indie chart set up by Record Business in 1980. The underground cannot exist without the mainstream, conceptually speaking: the necessity, therefore, is to identify the boundaries, if the underground wishes to qualify its claim to independence. One solution to this problem could be a fundamentalist one, similar to the 'outing' process enacted by Maximum Rock'n'Roll in 1994 where many connections between pseudo-indies and the majors were revealed. Indeed, from the days of Crass up to the present day, such finger pointing has been common amongst the independent-minded citizens of the international DIY punk underground. The gesture seems churlish and juvenile when looked at critically, however. More useful, overall, is to wonder as to how much legitimacy can be retained from the 'go and do it' ethos proposed by the Desperate Bicycles. Anarcho-punk, the most polemically and politically explicit of all punk movements, has never produced a specific strategy for setting up the freedom and peace which Crass had been bold enough to imply as an achievable goal. The questions here, then, should be relevant to any individual with an interest in the counter-hegemonic element of punk. 1 turn, in conclusion, then, to the central question: do wtetyourself?

Conclusion
Indie, as an institutional challenge to the majors' dominant discourses, was part of an attempt to spread power out, to re-distribute cultural capital and encourage self-expression. The idea that it could have formed a 'new mainstream', however, is skewed logic, for the word independent already implies a smallness (we don't say, for example, that Portugal became independent from East Timor but, rather,
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the other way around). What the indie scene certainly could do was to form a parallel underground, which, indeed, is just what it has done for the last 30 years despite certain dismal forecasts. There is a great deal still to think through beyond this, but no space to do so here. What, for example, would be gained if agents in the DIY scene consciously worked towards the formation of numerous parallel undergrounds? Since such is, to a large extent, what we already have, what are the problems associated with genre boundaries and micro-solidarity? Should localism of a less genre-specific nature be encouraged? If so, might it be beneficial (in the interests of generating the kind of counter-hegemonic impulses desired by many punk bands) to resist the recent trend in academia towards figuring 'local' as, potentially, also featuring trans-local discourses related to the World Wide Web? For now these questions must simply hang. Though Wendel proposes that we 'do-it-together' (DIT), there is no reason to think the knot of ethics and concepts associated with the acronym DIY to be entirely consignable to the dustbin of history. In any case, if DIT was to replace DIY, as an institutional principle, the pressing question should then be: what kind of institution should we do together? It seems certain that the over-idealization of MySpace for 'its participatory and community building affordances, [which] locates unprecedented creative control in the hands of music makers themselves' is decidedly problematic (Wendell 2008: 88). Wendel confuses 'creative control' with distributive control and forgets that, in terms of making a musical sound for others to respond to, it has always been the case that anyone could do it. The question, really, is how far away from oneself the music is to be pushed: anyone can do it, but does anyone want to hear it? How big a circle should we want to draw around ourselves? And do we really want 'anyone' in our circle, always? Overall, there is no reason to think internet-based social networks to be unhelpful to the DIY independent movement but every reason to presume that, for those interested in producing the kind of counter-hegemonic agency sketched above, questions of power and power relations remain pressing. The World Wide Web has brought a certain ease to the self-publication of music, which is helpful to music makers who would like to share their creations; it is only through social agency, however, that social relations can be transformed. For this reason, the possibility of independence in a music scene remains a trajectory with extendable possibilities, not all potentials of which are 'virtual'. The quantity and quality of social interactions within the 'independent' discursive environment is likely to be a crucial fartor with regard to the likelihood of wider social transformation of the type desired by, for example, anarcho-punk bands.

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A CD arrived through the post a few days ago. Its creator, youthful anarchofoll< art the Casual Terrorist, had contarted me via MySpace to arrange a 'trade' (an 'old school' method of DIY distribution) of our musical products. The day after 1 received it, a further email arrived (this time direrted to my hotmail account, with specific mention of breaking away from 'MurdochSpace', though no mention of the movement to another—independent?—mega-corporation was made). This second email was an invitation to a 'gig' in the Casual Terrorists' living room, showing that 'Cyberspace' and non-virtual reality are always overlapping in contemporary culture. The CD itself. Love, Cigarettes and Anarchism, makes a gesture towards de-commodification a little more strongly than Radiohead did with In Rainbows: in small print, at the bottom of the CD sleeve, the legend
Copyleft. All rights reversed. Copy and distribute this CD as much as humanly possible. XXX x.^^

It is precisely the kind of sentiment that one might have heard in 1978,1988,1998 or, indeed, 1968. It shows, furthermore, that cultures of resistance continue to morph in the twenty-first century and to interart with dominant ideologies. The best policies for counter-cultural agency against dominant powers remain available for negotiation, therefore, since no culture is static. Certainly there should be little doubt that the DIY/indie/punk emphasis upon discourses of locality, mutuality and reciprocity at least remain worth considering, within ongoing wider discourses towards counter-hegemony.

References
Arnold, G. 1993. Route 666: On the Road to Nirvana. London: Picador. Bannister, M. 2006. White Boys, White Noise: Maculinities and 1980s Indie Guitar Rock. Aldershot: Ashgate. Berger, G. 2006. The Story of Crass, tondon: Omnibus. Blaze, C. 2007. 'Poems on the Underground'. In Riot Grrrl: Revolution Grrrl Style Now, ed. N. Monem. London: Black Dog. Blush, S. 2001. American Hardcore: A Tribal Account. Los Angeles: Feral. Cross, C. C. 2001. Heavier than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain. London: Sceptre. Downes, J. 2007. 'Riot Grrrl: The Legacy and Contemporary Landscape of DIY Feminist Cultural Activism'. In Riot Grrrl: Revolution Grrrl Style Now, ed. N. Monem. London: Black Dog.. Glasper, I. 2006. The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980-1981-. London: Cherry Red. Gosling, T. 2004. "'Not For Sale": The Underground Network of Anarcho-Funk'. In Music Scenes: Local, Translocal and Virtual, ed. A. Bennett and R. A. Peterson, 168-79. Nashville: Vandebilt. 19. The Casual Terrorist, Love Cigarettes and Anarchism, no label name, no catalogue number, 2008.
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Gronow, P., and Saunio, 1.1998. An International History of the Recording Industry. London and New York: Cassell. Hesmondhaigh, D. 1997. 'Post-Punk's Attempt to Democratise the Music Industry: The Success and Failure of Rough Trade'. Popular Music Aè/y 255-74. doi:io.iOi7/So26ii4 3000008400 -1999. 'Indie: The institutional Politics and Aesthetics of a Popular Music Genre'. Cultural Studies 13/1: 34-61. doi:io.io8o/O95O23899335365 Kruse, H. 2003. Site and Sound: Understanding Independent Music Scenes. New York: Peter Lang. Laing, D. 1985. One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Lee, S. 1995. 'Re-examining the Concept of the "Independent" Record Company: The Case of Wax Trax! Records'. Popular Music 14/1:13-31. doi:io.ioi7/S026ii430000076i3 McKay, G. 1996. Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance since the Sixties. London: Verso. Reynolds, S. 2005. Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-198^. London: Faber. Rimbaud, P aka J. J. Ratter 1998. Shibboleth: My Revolting Life. Fdinburgh and San FranciscoAK. Rosen, P1997. ' "It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!": Technology and Anarchy in the UK Music Industry'. In Twenty-First Century Anarchism: Unorthodox ¡deas for a New Millennium, eds J. Purkis and J. Bowen, 99-116. London: Cassell. Strachan, R. 2007. 'Micro-independent Record Labels in the UK: Discourse, DIY Cultural Production and the Music Industry'. European Journal of Cultural Studies 10/2:245-65. doi:io.ii77/i367549407O759i6 Wendel, E. L. 2008. 'New Potentials for "Independent" Music: Social Networks, Old and New, and the Ongoing Struggles to Reshape the Music industry'. AAA thesis, Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Young, R. 2006. Rough Trade. London: Black Dog.

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