Gatekeeping the Fruity Loops Revolution

Been thinking about the links between the new definitions of creativity, especially how creativity is increasingly tied up with technological innovation. At the same time the technologies used in creative production are becoming cheaper, easier to use, widely available to “ordinary” consumers. I’ve started to notice the strategies highly specialised areas of producers (the professionals) use to keep their heads above water when there is such an overwhelming and ever growing amount of “amateur” production, particularly in the digital media. Particularly, there is a lot of work going into making value distinctions between “authentic” specialists/artists, and lay practitioners (i.e. “mere” consumers).

A case in point from a recent post to a list for (primarily experimental) electronic musicians:

I think CDRs are the now the most destructive thing around other than MP3s. …music is becoming generic. Not just pop music (which has been generic for a few decades now), but all music. CDRs and MP3s blow apart tradtional distribution and remove those barriers to people releasing music. The problem is everyone is releasing music. And most of it is not very good. Add to this the ease of getting a cracked copy of Reaktor, Cubase or whatever and its a recipe for disaster.

Now that’s disturbing, but also interesting — a perfect example of the social strategies used by subcultures to protect their restricted field of cultural production, and all the (sub)cultural capital that goes with it. Another bit of evidence to support my arguments that high cultures are subcultures too.

Follow ups: Subcultures and Sonic Proliferation, Part 1