To the uninformed observer, it would seem silly to even consider approaching the EDM scene from an academic perspective. The two concepts appear to be completely polar, one being a critical, scholarly analysis and the other a sweaty, neon-fueled, eardrum-shattering party experience. Luckily for us, however, University of New York’s Samantha Kretmar has expertly combined the two into an unprecedented, 46-page dissertation for her Masters degree, focusing on the work of dubstep’s favorite mophead Bassnectar and his promotion of digital culture. Bassnectar was quick to take notice, and even gave Samantha a shoutout on his Facebook page.
Wow… this is literally a thesis on Bassnectar! Or at least it’s examining networked culture using Bassnectar and our community as an example of this major socio-cultural shift… Badass! Congrats to Samantha on getting her masters 🙂
Her thesis begins with a beautiful depiction of an average Bassnectar show, remembering to include descriptions of his song choices, visual aesthetics, stage presence, and crowd reaction. She explains that immediately after the set is over, Lorin will take his famous “Family Photo” of himself and the crowd to be posted on his social media sites soon thereafter. Samantha acknowledges that even after the show has ended and the crowds are heading home, they are able to continue their interaction with the artist through these sites, allowing them to connect on a more personal and casual level with both he and their fellow attendees. This relatively recent development in technology, and subsequently our global culture, becomes the main focus of her essay.
Bassnectar’s music experience, distribution, and consumption practices appeared to recognize the duality of these developments and exemplified how these media have encouraged a transition from
an industrial information economy to a networked model of culture.
By placing such importance on his social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for the promotion and distribution of his music, Samantha says, Bassnectar is able to more widely include his fans in the community while simultaneously getting his music to reach higher tiers of consumption than would’ve ever been possible 20 years ago. She believes that the inclusion of smartphone and social network technology is what has helped the careers of artists like Bassnectar (Kaskade, Krewella, Deadmau5, Skrillex, etc.) flourish so fruitfully.
Bassnectar specifically capitalized on what scholars have described as the defining characteristics of networked society: employing mobile connectivity to instantaneously communicate across a broad network at live events, distributing music via social networks and using these outlets as primary means for aggregating cultural content, and encouraging consumption through several diverse
digital outlets thereby providing users with more choices.
Samantha spends the remaining pages further discussing the impact of social networking on the Internet-age of EDM consumers, as well as the history of underground culture and its social impact on today’s scene. Her dissertation is truly something to be proud of, as it completely and fairly analyzes the true scale of our community and the reasoning behind its enormous success.
So, the next time your grandma puckers her face and asks you why people would ever want to listen to this crap, show her Samantha’s essay. Her questions will surely be answered.
Take a look at the full text here and download if you like.