Dowd, T. 2014. Music Festivals as Transnational Scenes.

Dowd, Timothy. 2014. “Music Festivals as Transnational Scenes: The Case of Progressive Rock in the Late 20th and Early 21st Centuries.” In The Festivalization of Culture: Place, Identity, and Politics, edited by A. Bennett, J. Taylor, and I. Woodward, pp. 147-168. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

Explores linkage of music festivals and scenes. Music festivals as large events, often supported through corporate sponsorship (Laing 2004). However, some festivals –notably progressive rock- can be “small” through inattention from corporations and critics. Growth of progrock scene sources usually from internal stakeholders – through musicians, small businesses, and fans. Progrock as art (for listening rather than entertainment – dancing), combination of classical, jazz, folk, improvisations. Transition in 1970s-1980s into “industry-based” genre (Lena and Peterson 2008) – commercial appeal, corporate , promotion, as well as grassroots “scene-based” genre.

Music as “a focused social activity that takes place in a delimited space and specific span of time in which clusters of producers, musicians, fans realize their common musical taste and collectively distinguish themselves from others” (Peterson and Bennett 2004, 1) – kx^ music as a social process of place- and genre-based distinction, boundary establishment. However, place becomes transient as it can be local (Grazian 2005), translocal – multiple cities (Dowd, Liddle and Nelson 2004), and virtual – online (Nieckarz 2005). Linkages between these locales as bonding these types of place (Cummings 2008, Williams 2006). Also, note the importance of “infrastructure” of music scenes – venues, websites, record shops, etc. (Bennett 2002, 2004; Williams 2006) – music festivals as important site for infrastructure (particularly for progrock) – (Dowd, Liddle and Nelson 2004, Gardner 2004, Kahn-Harris 2007).

Music as top-down spread of influence (Hitters and van der Kamp 2010) – through corporations or critics. HOWEVER, Dowd takes “bottom-up” approach in noting translocality of scenes. Development of new record businesses, venue bookings, producers to fill dearth left after progrock’s loss of popularity; aided by low entry costs into local music scenes, rather than expenses of mainstream – due to online and digital revolutions that promoted low-cost creation and distribution of music.

Festival scene offers increased translocal/transnational ties between progrock artists.


Bennett, A. 2002. “Music, Media, and Urban Mythscapes: A Study of the ‘Canterbury Sound.’ Media, Culture, and Society 24(1): 87-100.

Bennett, A. 2004. New tales from Canterbury: the making of a virtual scene, in Music Scenes: Local, Translocal, and Virtual, edited by A. Bennett and R.A. Peterson. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 205-220.

Cummings, J. 2008. Trade mark registered: sponsorship within the Australian indie music festival scene. Continuum 22(5), 675-685.

Dowd, T.J., Liddle, K., and Nelson, J. 2004. Music festivals as scenes: examples from serious music, womyn’s music, and skate punk, in Music Scenes: Local, Translocal, and Virtual, edited by A. Bennett and R.A. Peterson. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 149-167.

Gardner, R.O. 2004. The portable community: mobility and modernization in bluegrass festival life. Symbolic Interaction 27(2), 155-178.

Grazian, D. 2005. Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Hitters, E. and van de Kamp, M. 2010. Tune in, fade out: music companies and the classification of domestic music products in the Netherlands. Poetics 38(5), 461-480.

Kahn-Harris, K. 2007. Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge. Oxford: Berg.

Laing, D. 2004. The three Woodstocks and the live music scene, in Remembering Woodstock, edited by A. Bennett. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1-17.

Lena, J. and Peterson, R.A. 2008. Classification as culture: types and trajectories of music genres. American Sociological Review 73, 697-718.

Nieckarz, P.P., Jr. 2005. Community in cyber space? The role of the Internet in facilitating and maintaining a community of live music collecting and trading. City & Community 4(4), 403-423.

Peterson, R.A. and Bennett, A. 2004. Introducing music scenes, in Music Scenes: Local, Translocal, and Virtual, edited by A. Bennett and R.A. Peterson. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1-15.

Williams, J.P. 2006. Authentic identities: straightedge subculture, music and the Internet.


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