Nick told me that he heard people discussing that with the advent of internet sites like myspace, there's no longer any truly "independent" musicians (to a lesser extent artists of any kind) anymore. They might not have a major record label behind them, but they do have access to millions of potential fans through a popular website. Furthermore, any artists can put their music up on sites like mp3.com or last.fm. In fact, we ran into Micah (the American Studies guy) at a concert on Monday (Maylene & the Sons of Disaster, Poison the Well, Underoath). Micah clarified that it means something entirely different to be independent these days than it did 10-15 years ago.
Apparently some folks get upset when you suggest that their fav indie band is not actually "independent." I'm not entirely sure why you'd get upset about a thing like that. I guess it's like the thing when there's a song that's been your favorite by that band and then you hear it on the radio...you feel like something that you had an intimate connection with is now property of the masses (who obviously don't deserve proprietorship of this item). Maybe it's just a subcultural thing that you don't want to have tainted by the grimy hands of the masses. I guess I can agree that it's a bad thing for an "independent" band to blow up, sell out, and start making suckier music. However, I think major-record-label-signing would be a positive phenomenon if bands could maintain their style and everything else that the fans love them for.