Before Garden State, music was mostly shared through word of mouth. The "Artists Similar To..." and "Other Listeners Bought..." helped expose fans to new music. Other than that, there were the mixtapes friends and S.O.s would share with one another, often adorned with cute Sharpie doodles. But, then Garden State soundtrack was released, a handpicked selection of relatively unknown artists, curated by a celebrity. Braff wasn't giving these tunes of love, loss, and a host of other emotions to a lover. He gave them to the public. And, as a result, Ugwu argues that indie became mainstream.
Ugwu notes that before the soundtrack's success, the featured artists, and their peers, only circulated around "small venues, record stores, and select online communities." After its Best Compilation Soundtrack Album Grammy win, however, “'indie music' would soon be found regularly in the top slot of the Billboard 200 (Death Cab for Cutie, Vampire Weekend), in ad campaigns for Fortune 500 companies like Apple and UPS, and in blockbuster film franchises." And, the trend has continued, with Lorde following Braff's bespoke approach to curating the Mockingjay: Part 1 soundtrack.
For better or worse, the mixtape has become commercialized over the past decade. Grey's Anatomy and the Twilight soundtracks are evidence of this. But, it's this commercialization that makes Garden State's soundtrack so authentic. It's the original — and 10 years later, it's still stands out, because as Ugwu points out, "The right song, played at the right moment, can be a life-changing event." (BuzzFeed)