Dissertation Abstracts

Between Creative freedom and The Cultural Industry: Independent Music Production in the City of Buenos Aires from 1999 to the Present

Author: Quiña, Guillermo M, gquina@sociales.uba.ar
Department: Faculty of Social Sciences
University: University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Supervisor: Ana E. Wortman
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Spanish

Keywords: Independent Music , Cultural Industries , Creative Labour , Argentina
Areas of Research: Arts , Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Work


This dissertation takes independent music production as a unit with multiple determinations. The analysis explores the beginning and subsequent consolidation of the novel space of independent music in the city of Buenos Aires at the end of the 1990s until the present day. Emerging out of a context of the recent Argentinean crisis and enshrined in the global cultural changes, key actors understand independent music as foreign to big music industry, alien to mercantile relations, and motivated by non-economic interests--managed either by small capital or by musicians themselves.
With the aim of characterizing this phenomenon as a complex unit, this dissertation explores, interprets, and analyses the production process of live as well as recorded music, by considering actors' representations and the concrete practices involved.
The theoretical perspective from which this work is developed points to the necessity of recovering the actors' voices.
The methodological design is centrally qualitative although it also includes a triangulation strategy in order to work with quantitative data; collected between 2008 and 2011, the scope of the data responds to the principle of theoretical saturation. The analysis of the data is laid out in three parts.
First, the dissertation explores, qualitatively and quantitatively, the processes involved in the emergence and growth of live and recorded independent music. In particular, this analysis emphasizes the four main dimensions: sizes, social ties, management and genre.
Second, the dissertation adopts an interpretive and critical perspective in the analysis of key actors' representations. After exploring the historic relationship between culture and independence in Argentina, the thesis locates the specificity of independent music production within the presence of the political and the ideological as residual elements of the cultural process. The fieldwork reveals that there are three conceptions of independent music. The fieldwork draws on the fundamental elements of the independent music production process including the work process as well as the subject and the product of this process.
Third, the dissertation assumes an analytical lens grounded in the material conditions of production of independent music, which are characterized by informal, flexible and paid-under-its-value labour practices, in the recent worldwide development of the creative industries. The analysis also focuses on the articulation between what is independent music and what is not, which lets us detect the relationships that independent music productions establishes with social totality; the concept of hegemony is central to this analysis. The dissertation concludes with the recognition of the contradictory character of the object of analysis: although independent music is represented by its actors as a creative, open, and free space, it is nonetheless subject to the capital accumulation process, due to the mercantile nature of music products.