Cheats, Thieves and ‘the Kids’: Electronic Dance Music and Technological Change


Over the past two decades, electronic dance music (EDM) has shifted away from being primarily a vinyl-based culture due to the adoption of new technologies for production and performance. Whilst enabling new creative possibilities for musicians, these technologies have also disrupted existing norms within EDM culture. Audiences reacted with unease to the initial use of laptops as an instrument for performance. The Internet and DJ software lowered the entry barriers for potential DJ-producers whilst raising new issues of musical ownership. This paper examines how these disruptions have been perceived by EDM practitioners through an ethnographic account of DJ-producers from various electronic music scenes in Melbourne, Australia. Drawing on Bourdieu's notion of cultural capital and its subsequent readings (in particular Thornton's concept of subcultural capital) the idea is further developed with a focus on the role of technology (referred to as 'techno-cultural capital'). This reading of cultural capital is then used to analyse how participants articulate notions of authenticity, creativity and success in a changing technological milieu. Three major themes are explored. First, the accusation of 'cheating', described as using any technology that removes the fundamental skill of beat-matching from the DJ performance. Second, the issue of 'stealing' described as the unauthorised use of parts of another DJ's composition or performance. Third, the other-ing of youth associated with inexperience using vinyl, cheating and a lack of of social capital. This paper concludes with a discussion of how techno-cultural capital may be transformed into economic capital.

Author Information
Jonathan Yu, University of Melbourne, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2013
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Yu J. (2013) Cheats, Thieves and ‘the Kids’: Electronic Dance Music and Technological Change ISSN: 2187-4751 – The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2013 – Official Conference Proceedings
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