‘MySpace bands’ and ‘tagging wars’: Conflicts of genre, work ethic and media platforms in an extreme music scene

Tamas Tofalvy

Abstract


In this paper I interpret the transformations that took place in an extreme metal scene due to online fan interactions during the first wave of music–related online social media between 2004 and 2008. I show how the online success of a band on MySpace led to the devaluation of a whole genre, and also to the decreased reputation of MySpace as a medium among fans, coining the term ‘MySpace band.’ I describe how this judgment was strongly interrelated with the common conviction among fans that the activity of a band on a social platform should not be considered as ‘work’ as opposed to ‘working hard’, playing shows and touring ‘in real life’. In another case study I examine how the use of the tagging function on Last.fm lead to conflicts regarding the categorization of the genre and ignited vivid debates in the scene. The boundaries of the scene became uncontrollable in the open online social sphere, with newcomers transforming the representation of the scene in real time. Through those case studies, on the one hand, my aim is to show the interrelation of culture and technology: how value judgments on social boundaries, genres and work ethics are closely bound up with the uses and interpretations of media platforms. On the other hand, as subcultural and post–subcultural explanation schemes too could be applied to those scenic practices, I suggest that instead of concentrating on the presumed structural nature of scenes, focusing on the discursive constructions of genre may offer a fruitful avenue for understanding collectivities of musical taste.

Keywords


Internet; social media; extreme metal; scenes; MySpace; Last.fm; work ethic; genre

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i9.4354



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