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Valuing Independence: Esteem Value and Its Role in the Independent Music Scene

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This article reports on a qualitative study investigating the characteristics, motivations, and organization of a sample of self-identified “Indies.” It identifies three characteristic dimensions of life for the Independent musician in the digital age: the “intrinsic motivation for extrinsic value” dimension; the “independence as network” dimension; and the “artist as business” dimension. The author argues that these dimensions are linked by their relevance to the esteem that musicians must generate in pursuit of a sustainable career. They also characterize levels of artistic control, network diversity, and business intimacy within a musician's relationships. These dimensions are rarely occupied at their extremes; rather, a wide variety of positions are taken up between totally independent and totally “indentured” musicians. Seeing relative “independence” as a combination of these three dimensions helps us more clearly understand the dynamics of emergent new music industries.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2012


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