What is INDIE?
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What is INDIE?

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"Film Review"

I strongly recommend that people in the Indie music community get together in groups to watch this documentary, because they will want to discuss it. They will also want to celebrate together the excitement evoked by one of the messages of the film - that this is a great time in music history to be an independent artist. This documentary may focus on a specific question, but the effect on the viewer is like a rallying cry.

All independent musicians, especially those wondering if they should be pursuing a major label deal, need to watch this documentary.

- Jennifer Layton, Assistant Editor, Indie-Music.com - Indie-Music.com

"From DIY to EMI"

It’s a term that’s been bandied about so much by the media, industry execs and misguided teens that it’s almost lost all meaning. But that didn’t stop Montreal filmmaker Dave Cool (real name) from trying to define it in his debut documentary What Is INDIE? And for a while, as we see in the film, he was pretty much committed to the traditional DIY definition—i.e. any artist or label that operates outside the major label system... by choice.

"For about six months of production I thought I knew what the word meant," says Cool, who also runs his own label, Stand Alone Records. "That is until I interviewed Derek Sivers, the founder of a company called CD Baby."

Sivers, who runs his hugely successful online record store out of Portland, Oregon, basically says that you can be "indie" and still be signed to a major label, as long as you have control. And of course, he’s right. With hundreds of mom ’n’ pop labels distributing through either EMI, Warner, Sony or Universal, the lines of independence have been blurred.

"I remember leaving the interview just sort of thinking, 'Okay, I guess it’s back to the drawing board now because what he said absolutely floored me," says Cool. "I honestly hadn’t thought of it in that sense before so I was very surprised."

- Sarah Rowland, Film Editor, Montreal Mirror - Montreal Mirror

"If it's cool, creative and different, it's indie"

The term "indie" traditionally refers to independent art -- music, film, literature or anything that fits under the broad banner of culture -- created outside of the mainstream and without corporate financing.

In music, for example, the term refers to music produced and funded by any band or label not affiliated with the four or five major corporate labels like Sony or Epic. The same holds true generally for the music and film industry.

In May, Dave Cool, a Montreal-based filmmaker, released "What is Indie?" -- a documentary that takes a look at indie musicians and attempts to determine what being indie actually means.

"These days indie is more of a philosophy," Cool said. "If you can maintain control and integrity over your art, whether on your own or with a corporation -- that's what's important."

- Catherine Andrews, CNN.com - CNN.com

"Making Their Own Breaks"

The 'indie revolution,' as Stand Alone records label manager David Cool calls it, means amateur artists don't have to wait to be discovered. "There are still some who want to be plucked from obscurity and made into a star," Cool says, "but they're an increasingly small percentage. More and more, artists are realizing they can do it themselves, build up a fan base and keep control over their art as well."

Increasingly, artists can make a living without ever coming into contact with a bricks-and-mortar publisher or record label. "Sales of 20,000 on a major label would have you kicked off because of the enormous overheads," says Cool. "But as an indie musician, that's a good living. You have to pay for a good computer, some office supplies, and as long as you educate yourself on how to run a business, you're set."

- Tara Pepper, Newsweek International - Newsweek Magazine

"DVD Review"

This excellent DVD feature, self-financed via Cool's record label, Stand Alone Records, features extensive interviews with artists such as Canada's living folk legend, Penny Lang, and one of the most supportive figures in the U.S. indie bizz, Derek Sivers from CD Baby.

Particularly well edited and organized, What is INDIE? needs to be studied by any indie artist and label.

-Tom Kidd, Reviewer, Music Connection Magazine - Music Connection Magazine

"An independent state of mind"

In his conversations with the musicians, writers and entrepreneurs in the independent music scene, Cool tries to answer the titular question. The result is heartfelt and hugely entertaining, with a bit of Michael Moore in Cool's folksy delivery and biographical intro to set up the story, and a nod to Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) in its use of goofy and helpful charts to illustrate key points.

Part of what makes the doc so fun is seeing the Indie scene from its multiple, often contradictory viewpoints and via endless opinions. Yet it remains coherent, coming across as a sort of alternate-universe training video for one's first day on the job as an independent musician.

- Neil Brouillet, Montreal.com - Montreal.com


2006: What is INDIE? DVD/CD Package (Stand Alone Records)


National Film Board of Canada (Canada)
Film Baby (USA & International)
B-side Entertainment (USA & International)
Midwest Tape (USA)
LOCAL Distribution (Quebec)
iThèque (France)




"It BLEW ME AWAY. It really made me proud to be a part of this movement, this groundswell that’s taking hold of the business."

-Panos Panay (Founder, Sonicbids)


- Top Indie Release of 2006 (Indie-Music.com)

- Nominated: Best Feature Length Video (Just Plain Folks Music Awards)

- Nominated: Gina Kaz "We Can Take Care of Each" and Andrea Revel "Citysong" BOTH Nominated for "Best Song Used in Film/TV" (Independent Music Awards) *Songs included in this EPK.


About the Film:

At a time when independent artists in the music industry have more power and control over their careers than ever before, "What is INDIE?" tries to determine just what it really means to be 'indie'.

The film features interviews with indie music experts including Panos Panay (Founder of Sonicbids), Derek Sivers (Founder of CD Baby) and Suzanne Glass (Founder of Indie-Music.com), as well as with 20 artists including Penny Lang, Ember Swift and Paul Cargnello.

In defining what it means to be ’indie’, as well as looking at the changing landscape in the music industry, the film ends up being a rallying cry for indie artists, and has been hailed as ‘inspiring’ and ‘empowering’ by artists worldwide.


A True Indie Success Story:

Without any prior background in film (except for watching Super-Size Me "way too many times") and funded entirely with his own credit cards, Montreal director Dave Cool has taken the film from a small do-it-yourself project and turned it into an indie success story in its own right that continues to turn heads in the music and film industries, even catching the attention of CNN.com, Newsweek Magazine and Canada's National Film Board.