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Site and Sound

Understanding Independent Music Scenes


Holly Kruse

Site and Sound: Understanding Independent Music Scenes examines how independent pop and rock music scenes of the 1980s and 1990s were constituted within social and geographical spaces. Those active in the production and consumption of «indie» pop and rock music thought of their practices as largely independent of the music mainstream – even though some acts recorded for major labels. This book explores the web of personal, social, historical, geographical, cultural, and economic practices and relationships involved in the production and consumption of «indie» music.

«‘Site and Sound’ introduces ‘indie’ music and its cultural context – an area of musical life that is rarely recognized by the music public, or is singled out as distinct in scholarship, but yet responsible for much of the stylistic variety and vitality of American musical life, particularly outside the major urban centers. For ethnomusicologists, Holly Kruse’s book offers significant ethnographic material for comprehension of a musical culture at the interface of professional and amateur, and of private and institutional sectors of American musical culture. Presented largely through interviews with and statements by musicians, recording technicians, and members of the audience, Kruse provides insight into the musical, economic, and, most interestingly, social relationships that undergird the ‘indie’ musical productions and the fascinating cast of characters who live them.» (Bruno Nettl, Professor Emeritus of Musicology, University of Illinois)
«Holly Kruse is one of the few scholars to have conducted indepth research on independent record companies, and here provides a compelling and comprehensive account of the dynamics and dilemmas that characterize alternative rock culture. This is an insightful book, revealing the complexities concealed by apparently simple terms ‘indie’ and ‘alternative’. This book should be essential reading for students of music and the media, as well as musicians wishing to understand why the contemporary recording industry treats them as it does.» (Keith Negus, Senior Lecturer in Communications, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London)
«In all too much popular music analysis, the concepts of place and independence become simplified into the coordinates of geography or confused with a fuzzy-headed rejection of corporate culture. Holly Kruse eloquently and effectively complicates both our sense of how particular places lead to potentially groundbreaking music as well as how independent structures of production and distribution are embroiled within and, in some cases, differ very little from the mainstream music industry. Her incorporation of numerous thought-provoking comments from participants in the independent music scene keeps the theoretical insights grounded in the day-to-day trappings of commerce. Also, her thoughtful consideration of gender reminds us that boorish behavior is not limited to the mainstream, but flourishes throughout the entertainment domain – even in precincts thought to be more sensitive to the needs of the individual.» (David Sanjek, Director of BMI Archives)