Assignment 1: Blog 4 DIY Music Cultures and Activism

In these exponential times, digitalisation of media has been reshaped drastically, with production, distribution and consumption reaching a much wider audience “a positive boom” (Jones, 2012, p. 189). Desperate Bicycles inspired other bands saying, “it was easy, it was cheap-go to it!” (Spencer, 288-289 cited in Dunn, 2012, p.220). I would highlight the availability of online software and platforms for production and sharing such as SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp, tidal, Vimeo, Google play make this possible.

Drawing on the documentary video relating to the inception of grime music ‘The Business of Grime”.

The rise and emergent of Do-it-Yourself (DIY) and Do-it-Together (DIT) music culture discourses play an important role within the music industries (Dunn, 2012) inspired by punk’s attitude. The propagation of these underground ‘resistance’ cultures is through a DIY approach and operates via collaborative groups rather than individuals as they rely on each other’s skillsets in decentralized production and distribution. DIY and DIT cultures manifest themselves in different ways through music, videos, pirate radio studios ‘zines as the big multinationals would not let grime in, “…given the genre a level of self-sufficiency” (Jones, 2012, p.187).

Research findings by Grimes (2016) suggest that fanzines or ‘zines’ are not only vehicles of subcultural communication, but also promote ‘zine editors’ as ‘organic intellectuals’ who emerge from the group to disseminate cultural work. I would add that DIY/DIT practice are vertically integrated.

Creation of not for profit autonomous spaces that are non-hierarchical allows file sharing (Manson, 2008) cultures to thrive. These cultures of ideas & ideologies reaffirm and sustain cultural identities, which challenge mainstream society and culture. Historically ‘gatekeepers’ were responsible for determining and nurturing the number of cultures that should develop around music The DIY/DIT culture arguably gives control back to the artist.

I would argue that DIY/DIT discourses provide a feasible alternative as they are developed outside the hegemonic culture and society. Furthermore it is about being true to oneself & valuing authenticity, expression, ideology & non-materialism: commercialisation is not the prime motive, the DIY protagonists Crass say. DIY/DIT cultures face co-option by mainstream music industries when they excel, as grime was once it was popularised through MOBO awards. Dunn (2012) argues it is always a struggle engaging in counter-hegemony when global capitalism seems absolute. However, music is a business and these artists will need to generate an income to operate and sustainability relies on capital if they are to make a living above all the noise where music is ubiquitous.

Grime, through its lyrics Bramwell (2015) was a way to vent anger, frustration and raise awareness for the young black minority: an anti-establishment expression of identity nothing to do with America (Collins and Rose 2016) and community borne of disenfranchisement from urban society. “Pow!’ was made out of pure frustration” (Lethal Bizzle cited in Collins and Rose 2016) Grime musicians acknowledge that they are the punk of their times, and are also synonymous with the avant-garde in music, Sabin (1999), Berger (2006) and Cross (2007) cited in Grimes, 2015, p.191). Like punk, grime also defies ceding power to the corporates by ‘going DIY all the way’.

DIY/DIT cultures are essentially political discourses empowering and giving voice to the voiceless; educational tool for particular cultural values that are outside mainstream media. “Music provides an idea of how song works on an audience “a powerful way to express experiences…ideas and emotions.” (Coertzee Life 7 cited in Drewett 2007, p. 43)

References

Bramwell, R. (2015) UK hip-hop, grime and the city: The aesthetics and ethics of London’s rap scenes. United Kingdom: Routledge.

British GQ (2016) The business of grime: Full documentary I British GQ. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_2AVogIb5c [Accessed 1 December 2016].

Collins, H. and Rose, O. (2016) This is Grime. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Drewett, M. (2007) The eyes of the world are watching now: The political effectiveness of ‘Biko’ by Peter Gabriel. Popular Music and Society, 30(1), pp. 39–51. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007760500504929.

Dunn, K. (2012a) Anarcho-punk and resistance in everyday life. punk & post punk, 1(2), pp. 201–218. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/punk.1.2.201_1.

Dunn, K. (2012b) ‘If it Ain’t cheap, it Ain’t Punk’: Walter Benjamin’s progressive cultural production and DIY punk record labels. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 24(2), pp. 217–237. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-1598.2012.01326.x.

Grimes, M. (2016) From Protest to Resistance: British anarcho-punk ‘zines (1980-1984) as sites of resistance and symbols of defiance. Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research Birmingham City University. Birmingham, .

Jones, M. L. (2012) The music industries: From conception to consumption. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Noisey (2014) The police vs grime music – A Noisey film. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW_iujPQpys [Accessed 1 December 2016].

 

Bibliography

Alvarez, L. (2008) Reggae rhythms in dignity’s Diaspora: Globalization, indigenous identity, and the circulation of cultural struggle. Popular Music and Society, 31(5), pp. 575–597. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007760802188272.

Bramwell, R. (2015) UK hip-hop, grime and the city: The aesthetics and ethics of London’s rap scenes. United Kingdom: Routledge.

British GQ (2016) The business of grime: Full documentary I British GQ. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_2AVogIb5c [Accessed 1 December 2016].

Burning Them Down (2011) CRASS | there is no authority but yourself. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LQ1CvwF7BQ [Accessed 1 December 2016].

Collins, H. and Rose, O. (2016) This is Grime. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Drewett, M. (2007) The eyes of the world are watching now: The political effectiveness of ‘Biko’ by Peter Gabriel. Popular Music and Society, 30(1), pp. 39–51. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007760500504929.

Dunn, K. (2012a) Anarcho-punk and resistance in everyday life. punk & post punk, 1(2), pp. 201–218. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/punk.1.2.201_1.

Dunn, K. (2012b) ‘If it Ain’t cheap, it Ain’t Punk’: Walter Benjamin’s progressive cultural production and DIY punk record labels. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 24(2), pp. 217–237. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-1598.2012.01326.x.

Grimes, M. (2016) From Protest to Resistance: British anarcho-punk ‘zines (1980-1984) as sites of resistance and symbols of defiance. Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research Birmingham City University. Birmingham, .

HARRISON, A. K. (2006) ‘Cheaper than a CD, plus we really mean it’: Bay area underground hip hop tapes as subcultural artefacts. Popular Music, 25(02), p. 283. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0261143006000833.

Jones, M. L. (2012) The music industries: From conception to consumption. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Noisey (2014) The police vs grime music – A Noisey film. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW_iujPQpys [Accessed 1 December 2016].

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