Arcade Fire’s album-of-the-year Grammy award on Sunday night for “The Suburbs” was a victory for a lot of people, and not just because it seemed as if the Canadian rock collective brought half the population of its native Montreal onstage during its show-closing musical performances.
It also was a win for the grassroots community of independent musicians and record companies to which Arcade Fire and its label, Merge Records, belong. Combined with the win in another of the top four Grammy categories -- jazz bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding’s upset for best new artist -- indie labels and artists came away from Sunday night’s ceremony with two major boosts to their self-esteem.
“A lot of the jaws that hit the floor when those two categories were announced were those of independents,” said Jim Selby, chief executive of Naxos of America, the independent Nashville-based classical label that racked up 35 nominations and took home 10 awards for its artists and distributed labels Sunday. “Independent artists winning against Eminem? A lot of people were thinking, ‘This is insane!' "