Music. Film. And Now Us.

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It’s hard to tell exactly when “indie” became a “thing”. On all accounts, the term “indie” derives from the word “independent”, and it’s been around in the music and film industries since the mid-1900s. But as the chart below reflects, illustrating the usage of the term “indie” in publications, the modern movement of “indie” took off in the 1980s.

For us, “indie” is exactly that – it’s a movement. And while the idea of being independent is certainly not new to the insurance industry, there is a renewed sense of urgency to redefine what being independent means:

In today’s world of insurance, there seems to be an incessant drive for formula driven, cookie-cutter, look-a-like insurance agencies. You see them all the time on the cover of industry publications, as if a giant consultant factory turns them out one blue-blazer, folded-hands, conference-room photo at a time. Unfortunately, these days our industry has little time for different models, outlooks, and ideas of what it means to be successful. No, in the world of ease of distribution, our industry decided that it should weed out the divergent agents and focus their resources on the disciples of conformity. To add to that, the volume and disparity of independent agency models and behaviors has allowed them to be overrun by M&A-driven organizations, or direct to consumer models.

All too familiar to the music industry of the 80’s and 90’s, a history-making movement of independence changed how music was distributed. The “indie rock” movement marked the breaking away of musicians from the “Big Four” (Universal, Sony, Warner, and EMI) and other major labels to release on a smaller label, or even put out a self-release. “Indie” also described the small, low-budget labels on which indie rock was released and the do-it-yourself attitude of the bands and artists involved. This “do-it-yourself partnership” between indie labels and bands enabled them to release music on their own terms, and we just all came along for the ride. And in the process, they dismantled the record industry and opened distribution up to anyone who had a song to play!

As with the music industry, our industry is ripe for new behaviors in order to thrive. Behaviors that distance the independent agent from consumption or conformity, and gives them the freedom to be whatever they want. And as with the music industry, indie agents are going to change the existing model. The reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated!

The indie agents, like the indie musicians, are fiercely independent people that believe that their vision of insurance is what best serves the communities and cities they occupy. Like the local indie musician, indie agents are absolutely convinced that their products and services (their “sound”), is the best. Their “sound” is so unique, composed with common instruments but with an uncommon set of beliefs and behaviors, only they can produce it.

You see, Indium was built by and for the indie agent. To that end, Indium is the “indie label” that facilitates growth and preserves the independence of the indie agent. We provide the products, tools, technology, strategy, support and the service indie agents need to create and realize their own unique agency value. We leave the rest up to the indie agent. And like the indie labels in the music industry, we don’t want to own you, we simply want to be the resource, the catalyst, which enables your agency to grow and prosper.

So when we say “stay indie”, it’s not a marketing ploy meant to repackage a dying model. “Stay indie” is acknowledgment that an important and needed distribution model is under threat, and we are here to provide the platform by which the independent system will win in the future. “Stay indie” is a belief that indie agents, combined with the resources of Indium, are the best means of distribution and, together, have the best chance of success in serving the insurance consumer. This will be true because the indie agent will be the most informed, most educated, most capable, most engaged, most valued and most valuable in our industry.

“Stay indie” is about leading, not following. It’s about partnership, not membership. It’s about doing it with you, not to you.

Get an Edge. Stay Indie.

 Chad Eddy, MBA, is the CEO at Indium. He has more than 25 years of multifaceted, multi-industry experience. In addition to serving independent agents, Chad is passionate about spending time with his family, playing and watching hockey, listening to good music, reading, and raising money for cystic fibrosis research.