The term "indie rock" once was applied to bands operating below the radar of the music business. The idea was that these artists took it upon themselves to establish an audience and (maybe) make a living outside the old, corrupting apparatus of major entertainment corporations intent on stifling creativity in the name of profits by any means necessary. At least that's what it says in our beat-up copy of "Indie Rock 101." Today, "indie rock" has gone from describing a philosophical and business outlook to being a not-particularly helpful genre tag. It is, in other words, meaningless, and so broadly applied that it even is used to describe bands that personify the exact opposite of what the term originally meant.

Which brings us to Abner and Harper Willis, two shaggy-haired guys trying to make a go at rock stardom in the salt mines of New York City clubs as members of the self-described indie rock band Two Lights. That might sound glamorous, but as Abner and Harris explain in a story they wrote for this week, it's not cheap. In fact, it costs more than $100,000 to try to "make it" today, including $30,000 for "training," $25,000 for gear, $1,000 to "pay a guy to send email blasts to databases of hip music blogs,"and $18,000 to live in New York City, because shaggy-haired rock guys are required by federal law to live in New York City. Man, were the Ramones actually Rockefellers or something?


We're going to tread lightly here, because the level of delusion in this story could potentially suck us all into a bottomless vortex of self-entitlement from which no amount of whining to wealthy parents will ever free us. But just get a load of this paragraph, where Abner and Harper attempt to curry sympathy for being a DIY band that actually has to, like, do stuff for itself.

Once upon a time, the suits at the record labels funded the enterprise. Your band would play local clubs in a major city, make a buzz, and an A&R (artists and repertory) guy would sign you and write you a blank check. …These days, you have to build your own following first: Produce music, and prove you can sell it. Then maybe someone will kick in some cash. …Meanwhile, you have to pay your own way. And it's a challenge.


Really, it was once that easy, kids, back in the good old days when blank checks were handed out to baby bands like bar tabs. Still, these guys are keeping their chins up. With any luck, "we'll soon be earning a lot more money than even doctors and lawyers." For now, maybe they can break 100 followers on Twitter. [via Time]