Gerhard Schulze defines the term ‘scene’ as “a network of audiences that arises from three kinds of similarities: partial identities of persons, of locations and of contents”. For popular music scholar Will Straw scenes are constantly morphing – renegotiating affiliations and distinctions in dynamic processes. Pre-internet, scenes were conceived of as located in subcultures, synonymous with the ‘underground’ and thus to represent marginalised communities. How can we conceptualize music scenes in the age of digital production, distribution and consumption? Are they still determined by their community members: the music makers (producers, composers, singers, DJs, etc.), their fans, journalists, managers, and distributors? Do such groups, beyond sharing mutual interests, need to inhabit the same physical space in order to form a common identity by creating, promoting, enjoying, and hyping old and new musical idols? Since the electronic DJ scene became a trademark of the new German sound, the post-punk feminist Peaches significantly modified, influenced, and empowered the local queer music scene. In Chicago, footwork pioneer DJ Rashad formed a new scene and a new genre with Teklife. One could, of course, just as well think of Lisbon’s kuduro musician DJ Marfox, who inspired and supported many young producers.
Without doubt, scenes that share a common sound and a thematic field of interest can become national or even global phenomena. Because of the way in which music and online platforms are progressing, many artists find themselves genre-dabbling, which opens doors for many scenes to “cross-pollinate.” London producers experiment with Baltimore club sounds. Japanese producers dabble with Footwork and Ballroom. The internet and mobile digital technology have enabled a more open exchange of ideas and sounds, exposing regions across the world to previously unfamiliar genres and aesthetics – and therefore enabling the manifestation of a ‘global’ scene. In this panel, we discuss how global networks recontextualize local sounds and scenes. We will do so by taking a closer look at the transformation of identities, specific urban subcultures, transnational communities, and global marketing strategies. How does community-building work today? What are the possibilities of existing and working outside of mainstream structures? Have ‘scenes’ replaced ‘genres’? How does the internet effect the role of local scenes?