This special edition of the International Journal of Urban Labour and Leisure focuses on that most urban of contemporary cultural forms - popular music. The articles featured have elements both in common and of distinction: they are all by young academics, relatively new to publishing, they are all concerned with local popular music scenes and activities, but they take up different focal points in exploring surrounding relations and conditions.
Moore examines the conditions, technologies and networks surrounding an music event in Norwich - a drum'n'bass night for lesbian and bisexual women - which, at the time of her fieldwork, was seen as the first public entrée of a new scene to this locality. Following Will Straw's distinction between 'scene' and 'community', she traces the connections between identity formation, musical practices and cultural alliances that can be found in this juncture between music scene and cultural community. Arguing that the 'space' found for consumption of a common taste in music presents additional and equitable opportunities for production of identity and sharing of technical and musical knowledge, Moore also recognises the politics and tensions at play in the scene.
Yasuda offers an account of the intersection of transnational marketing and distribution strategies and economies with local music practices and knowledge on show on the shop floor of Tokyo music megastores. Through the medium of (local and trans-local) hip hop retail, he shows how the practices involved in display and monitoring of unit sales are mediated through the important role of retail buyers in the shops, who hold powerful positions in the production of meaning for local
hip hop producers and consumers. Within the wider context of the competition between transnational and domestic music industries, Japanese hip hop is defined in part by its spatial distribution in-store adding authenticity, legitimacy and 'street' value through the cultural investment of the buyers, in relation to the imported US hip hop scene.
Gilmore also examines the conditions with surround music production and consumption in cities, but within a wider framework of (popular) cultural policy in Britain. Arguing that there are localised differences in urban music and cultural policies which collude with local characteristics and 'structures of feeling', she considers the relationship between local states and popular music in terms of a typology of different uses to which popular music is put in the public sphere, and in terms of the successes and reputations of local musicians and music industries.
Alan Turley uses the urban environment as the unit of analysis for analyzing music production within the diverse music scene of Austin, Texas. His analysis views the city as a diverse place where a "music scene" can grow. A music scene is not just the music or culture produced in an ethnic neighbourhood of by a bar that features a specific music style. Turley sees a music scene as a more integrated and comprehensive phenomenon that spans ethnic boundaries, encourages diverse styles, and develops culture businesses to support itself. After a critical mass of a city's population and a critical mass of musicians has been reached in a city. A music scene can be considered present when a variety of musical styles are produced on a regular basis by musicians that cross ethnic and community lines. In addition, a music scene is believed to foster ancillary business, ancillary labor, and related cultural production like poster artists, music magazines and newspapers, music bars/clubs, music festivals, record labels/businesses, compact disc manufacturing plants and recording studios.
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