Note! Much information contained within is grossly out of date, and is in the process of being corrected. Send YOUR corrections and bug reports to Eric Sinclair, <>

"Corporate Rock Still Sucks" -- SST Records

"Greg Ginn [of SST] Still Sucks" -- anonymous Usenet contributor


Hum-diddy-dum. Originally by Mark Cornick. Last modified by Eric Sinclair, 6/25/94, then gently tweaked for freshness on 18 Aug 1997.

This sheet has been re-re-written in an attempt to get people to read it. Please do.


1.0   What it is
  1.1 nutshell
  1.2 "indie" music explanation
2.0   The Indie-List Infotainment Junta
3.0   How to do it
  3.1 subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your address
  3.2 submit articles
  3.3 get back issues
  3.4 comment, compliment, suggest, complain
4.0   Policies & Philosophies
  4.1 Legal bullshit (aka the Cover Our Asses section)
  4.2 Moderation of the list
  4.3 Ads
  4.4 mail problems
  4.5 submissions
  4.6 patience is a virtue
  4.7 don't mail to the bloofga-matic 
5.0   Miscellaneous debris
  5.1 Record rating system
  5.2 The Indie-List Exchange
  5.3 Telegraph
  5.4 Other ILIJ publications 
Hey! You can skip to any section by selecting any of the contents items. Neat-o, huh? ("Hey!" is a trademark of Drag City.)

1.0 What it is

1.1 nutshell

The Indie-List Digest (or Indie-List or I-L or whatever) is a semi-weekly (i.e. twice a week) indie music zine distributed via Internet. Yr typical issue features numerous reviews, with occasional interviews, scene reports, etc. Subscriptions are absolutely free. Reader participation is very highly encouraged!

1.2 "indie" music explanation

"Indie" is short for "independent." ("Indy" is short for "Indianapolis." This list is not about auto racing. :-) So, "indie music" is "independent music." Whazzat? The most common definition is "music released on independent labels." So you ask, "What's an independent label?" You, gentle reader, have stumbled upon the much-vaunted Late-20th-Century Indie-Quandary.

[It's story-time with Mr. Mark. Story-time is sponsored by American Cyanamid - on the air because they care...]

In countries like Great Britain, there are laws about such things. But in the devil-may-care United States, the question of "what's an indie label?" is difficult (if not impossible) to answer definitively. It used to be simple. An indie label was any label not owned or operated by a major label. The major labels (aka The Gang Of Six) are Time Warner (inc. Warners, Sire, Reprise, Elektra, Atlantic, et al.), Sony Music (inc. Columbia, Epic, Chaos, et al.), CEMA (inc. Capitol, EMI, Chrysalis, SBK, Virgin, et al.), Matsushita (inc. MCA, Geffen/DGC, Radioactive, et al.), Philips/ PolyGram (inc. Polydor, Mercury, Island, A&M, et al.) and BMG (inc. RCA, Arista, et al.) And an indie band was any band on an indie label.

Then shit happened. Rough Trade went bankrupt, and many smaller labels who were owed money by Rough Trade went under too. Companies like Sony and Virgin bought interests in large indie distributors (Relativity and Caroline, respectively.) Bands like R.E.M., Depeche Mode, and (oh no! the N word!) Nirvana sold millions. Big labels saw dollar signs in the eyes of indie labels and bands. Indie labels signed P&D deals (i.e., co-marketing agreements) with big labels, and big labels bought indies outright. Big labels even set up "fake indie" labels. MTV created grunge fashions. The rest, as they say, is "Under The Bridge."

These days, it's nearly impossible to tell what's indie and what's not. Sonic Youth (who, before 1990, released several famous records on SST, Blast First, et al) are now on DGC; are they an indie music band? Fire, a British indie label, is distributed by Atlantic (and/or its subsidiary, Seed) in the US; are they an indie label over here? Mercury Rev are signed to Columbia in the US but Beggars Banquet in the UK; are they an indie band? Small Factory released an album on SpinArt, a label in which Sony has a financial interest and a label for which Caroline (owned by Virgin PLC) is the sole distributor; is SF an indie band? Is SpinArt an indie label? The whole 9 yards is a cross threading mystery.

Indie-ness is in your own head. Take a look and see what other people think indie means. Then decide for yourself. Because "Bob" knows even The Man couldn't figure out the current state of affairs. (Now let's see, Frontier used to be distributed by RCA, but now the new Flop CD is on Frontier/550, and 550 is a division of Sony, but I heard something about Frontier being distributed by Ryko, which also released Sugar, who are on Creation in the UK, and Creation has a deal with Sony, and they used to have one with SBK, and... ah, damn it all to hell. :-)

[Thanks for joining us today for Mr. Mark's Story-Time. Tune in next week for another exciting tale of corporate treachery and mayhem.]

By the way, the opposite of "indie", as any Minutemen fan will tell you, is "mersh" (shortened from "commercial.")

2.0 The Indie-List Infotainment Junta

Indie-List is not run by a LISTSERV, a MAILER-DAEMON, a PERL script, or any other automated computer magic. It is run by a group of people called the Indie-List Infotainment Junta (ILIJ for short; ILIJ rhymes with village.) Unlike the computer programs named above, the ILIJ actually know a few things about indie music, human nature, and the cost of a really good cafe latte. (Well, maybe a computer could tell you how much for the latte, but only a genuine Seattlite like Lena could tell you where to get it.)

Being a member of the ILIJ is a thankless job, requiring many hours of work weekly for no pay. All that the people listed below ask in return for their hard work is that you treat them like HUMAN BEINGS. This means:

That said, these people are, for all intents and purposes, the Indie-List Infotainment Junta:

These people are not really active Junta members per se, but they do help out from time to time, or do other things which are not directly related to the digests:

3.0 How to do it

*READ THIS!* it will save you agony and, er, charring later.

3.1 subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your address

Send mail to Sean. Be sure to mention Indie-List in your letter so he knows what you're talking about.

Please do not annoy Sean by making requests like "sign me off until September" or "only send me the next issue." Sean is a very nice person but (like anyone else) can get kinda upset if provoked. Also, send *ONE REQUEST ONLY*. If you haven't heard from Sean in a few days, it's because he hasn't had time to read his mail. (On the other hand, if it's been two weeks and still no subscription, *then* you can send another request.)

3.2 submit articles

Send your article to Eric and Anne. Make it clear in some way (in the subject line, f'rinstance) that what you are sending is an I-L article, as opposed to personal mail. Also, in the subject line, put something fairly descriptive, like "Fugazi, Butthole Surfers and Barney live in concert" as opposed to "Live review."

An easy way to do this is to use the prefix "I-L" or "Indie" in the subject line. (It's not a bad idea to do this for correspondance to any member of the ILIJ so we can separate I-L mail from other mail.)

3.3 get back issues

This information is grossly incorrect, but kept for archival purposes. Dave's moved along, but the archives are available from the Indie-List Home Page housed on this server.
The Indie-List Archives are available for FTP at <>, in directory /pub/music/lists/indie. This archive is provided by kind courtesy of Dave Datta at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. (Note that older issues are compressed to save space. They are recognizable by the ".Z" suffix on their names. Just leave off the .Z when you get the file, and it will come to you uncompressed, ready to read.)

If you don't have access to FTP mail Chris, indicating the issues you want. The usual "be patient & considerate" refrain applies.

3.4 comment, compliment, suggest, complain

Mail Eric. All comments, compliments, suggestions and complaints will be read and replied to.

4.0 Policies & Philosophies

4.1 Legal bullshit (aka the Cover Our Asses section)

Indie-List is in the public domain. It is NOT copyrighted. You may copy it for any reason, any purpose, any time you want, without so much as farting in the direction of the Junta, much less asking their permission.

Please cite Indie-List as a source if you quote from it. (It's polite.)

The information in Indie-List is presented without any warranty of any kind, express or implied. Caveat lector. Neither the ILIJ nor anyone else assumes any responsibility or liability for the truth, accuracy, or indie- savviness of anything presented in the digests.

Opinions expressed in any article are those of the article's author only. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, including but not limited to any ILIJ member, any of their employers and/or schools, the Internet or any subdivision thereof, any government agency, any dogs, cats, Thompson's gazelles, or other household pets, &c. &c. &c.

Selling copies of Indie-List, a publication which you received for free and which was published by unpaid volunteers, is a nasty, unethical, and altogether scummy thing to do.

4.2 Moderation of the list

Indie-List is opposed to censorship. However, the ILIJ is not at all opposed to protecting themselves from overzealous litigation. Therefore, the policy is the following: if your article contains any of the following, it can and probably will be rejected:

About flames: Indie-List tolerates and promotes a diversity of opinions, the better to combat the image of indie music fans as elitist record collectors who won't listen to anything not released on seven-inch color vinyl. You are expected to respect all opinions, even if you don't agree with them. Intelligently-written, significant, civil rebuttals are permissible, but wanton flaming is not. You are an adult. (At least you should be if you've got Internet access.) Please act like one. Thank you.

Please don't be afraid of these terms. We don't fear controversy. We don't care if you say "fuck" now and then. And we could care less that the NSA is reading. (Hell, maybe we'll improve their musical tastes. :-) The actual number of articles ever rejected by Indie-List since September 1992 can be counted on one hand.

4.3 Ads

(This section refers only to the Indie-List Digests. The Indie-List Exchange has its own policies which are explained to you when you subscribe.)

Indie-List is not here for anyone, including you, me, them, and the other guy, to make a profit.

That said, you *may* advertise recordings, zines, books, etc. of indie relevance that you, yourself, produce. You may quote prices, you may describe your product, and you must include an address for further information. All ads must be ten lines or shorter, and will be placed at the end of the digest. All ads will run for *one* digest only and may not be re-submitted. Ads must be of an informative, no-pressure nature.

You may *NOT* make value judgements, tell the readers to buy your product, knock any competitors you might have, violate any tenets of truth-in- advertising, or advertise any product not produced by you or a business owned by you.

Example of a legitmate ad:

New from Radioactive Rat Records is the debut 45 by Pelt, "Pelt(er)." 
It features two songs, "Hugeness" and "Frequency=Distribution." It is 
available for $3.00 postpaid.  Coming soon are a split 45 from Pelt 
and Damn Near Red, and a compilation CD entitled "Dixie Flatline." For 
more information on RadRatRecs, write to Mike Gangloff, <mgangloff@>.  Thank you.

Why this works:

4.4 mail problems

If we cannot reach you because the user name or host you give us is unknown to the mailing system, you will not receive the digests. (Common sense -- ain't it great?) So please spell your address correctly when you send it to Sean. Remember, all addresses are entered/removed by hand, not by LISTSERV, to prevent damage.

If your host is down temporarily for some reason, there is an outside chance that you might not receive the digest. You are *NOT* dropped from the list if this is the case; you will receive future issues (assuming your host is up) and you may get the issue(s) you missed (see Back Issues above.) Usually, if your host is down for, say, a couple of hours when we mail the digests, you will receive the digest once your host comes back up. If your host is consistently down, however, your address will be deleted.

If your address changes in any way, *please* notify Sean. Otherwise you could be dropped if your old address bounces. If you are dropped, please resubscribe and accept our apologies.

4.5 submission policy

All readers are *highly* encouraged to submit articles! You are not required to submit anything -- lurkers are welcome -- but we *are* interested in hearing from you! The biggest and best digests are the ones where lines written by the staff are far outnumbered by lines written by the readership. (Indie-List used to be just once a week, until the volume of articles made the digests too big. Thus the semi-weekly format. See what we mean?) Send your articles to indie-submit.

It is customary on Indie-List to provide addresses of labels that release records you review. This comes in handy if you decide to buy the record or mail-order it. You do not need to provide an address for very large, well- distributed labels like Caroline, or for any of the major labels. Catalogue numbers might also be helpful if you plan on mail-ordering records, but this is optional (most good mail-order companies either don't require it, or list these numbers in their catalogues.) If you don't know the address, don't fret; ILIJ publishes a list of indie label addresses which you may consult or refer to. See "Other ILIJ publications" below.

4.6 patience is a virtue

As has been stated several times, we are real people with real lives that keep us away from the net a lot of the time. Please do not expect instantaneous responses a la LISTSERV to your mail. We *will* reply in due time, but usually not right away. As a rule, you should hear from us in a few days. If it's been a week and you still aren't receiving Indie-List, or some such, *then* write us again. Otherwise please bear with us. And remember: To everything (turn! turn! turn!) there is a season (turn! turn! turn!), and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to work, a time to buy records, and a time to read your mail. :-)

4.7 don't mail to the bloofga-matic


The bloofga-matic mailer is Indie-List's patent-pending simple mailer system. People occasionally get confused or stupid and mail things directly to the bloofga-matic ( rather than to Eric, Sean, or whomever. This is annoying, improper, and has happened much too much in the past. Therefore, a security system has recently been added to the bloofga-matic. If you attempt to mail anything to the bloofga-matic without going through the Junta, your Internet address will be recorded, your mail will *not* go through to the list, and (dirge plays in background) YOU WILL BE DROPPED FROM THE LIST WITHOUT WARNING, WITHOUT RECOURSE, AND WITHOUT REGRET ON OUR PART. Offenders may also be reported to postmasters and other appropriate net.cops. This should not have been necessary, but the uncivility of less than 1% of our readers forced us to take action. We apologize that the well-behaved 99% of you have to have this hanging over your heads.

5.0 Miscellaneous debris

5.1 Record rating system

Indie-List has an optional record rating system. Some of our reviewers use it, some do not.

Half stars are used as well, as in ****1/2 (just short of godliness.) For truly wretched records (i.e. the Billy Idol "Cyberpunk" project) there is a special "Black Sky" anti-rating of 0* which, of course, means "no stars." (Of course, do you really need to review a record that awful? I'd say no, but it's your call.)

5.2 The Indie-Exchange

The Indie-List Exchange (ILx) is a mailing list, under the aegis of ILIJ but *separate* from the semiweekly digests, conceived as a forum to promote the exchange of indie music. This encompasses sales and trades of used indie CDs, vinyl, and cassettes. Both 'for sale' and 'wanted' posts are encouraged. The mailings will go out bi-weekly, contingent on the amount of traffic. To subscribe, send a message to <> asking to subscribe. A note with more detailed information will be sent to you as confirmation.

5.3 Telegraph

Telegraph is another thing that the ILIJ has spawned. It's from Mark Cornick, et al., and his blurb reads as follows:

| T ++ _ . ._.. . __. ._. ._ .__. .... |
+---+|    t/ e/ l/ e/ g/ r/ a/ p/ h/   |

  Telegraph is a new monthly electronic 'zine produced by
  former Indie-List Digest editors Mark Cornick and Sean Murphy.
  In Telegraph each month you'll find interviews with indie
  music "notables", features on happenings in the indie label
  universe, critique of current trends, etc. About the only
  thing you won't run into is a lot of reviews - Telegraph is
  meant as a complement to the Indie-List Digest, the Net's
  premier indie-music-review weekly. Telegraph is run by a three-person
  cabal known as the Telegraph Pioneers of America - Cornick, Murphy,
  and Chris Karlof.

  Subscriptions to Telegraph are free. Telegraph is also available
  via FTP (address provided upon subscription.) Reader contributions
  are welcomed and actively solicited, although you need not be a
  contributor in order to receive Telegraph.

  To subscribe, send your e-mail address to Sean Murphy at Telegraph mails once a month, usually in the
  last week of the month prior to cover date (i.e. the June issue mails
  the last week of May.)

5.4 Other ILIJ publications

Sean Murphy started the compilation of an excellent annotated list of indie labels, with addresses. Owing to his mammoth tasks in support music on the Net, maintenance of this list has passed to Steve Niece ( Steve has the list available (just mail him) and the I-L archives have a copy of the list as well. Even if you know where all your favorite indie labels are, check this out and find some new favorites. A paper copy of the list is also available from Stuart Johnson, for about a pound inside the UK, $2.50 in IRCs elsewhere. Drop Stuart a line at to check on supply...

Once upon a time, someone volunteered to index the list, but was overun by the gargantuan nature of the task. If anyone REALLY wants to subject themselves to this self-abuse, just drop Eric a line...

Fshee! is the non-existent paper publication of Indie-List.(Non-existent, that is, unless Josh has decided to do it after all.) It was originally scheduled to come out on the first anniversary of Indie-List (celebrated on October 1, 1993), but was lost in the Great Junta Shuffle Of 1993. (The word Fshee!, incidentally, was invented by Mark's friend Courtney Hermann, and is a sarcastic exclamation of awe, excitement, caring, etc.)

This concludes the Indie-List FAQ. Corrections, correspondence, and other missives related to this FAQ should be sent to Eric.

Acknowledgements to: Mark Cornick, K. Lena Bennett, Liz Clayton, Harry Hahn, Joshua Houk, Chris Karlof, and Sean Murphy.