From Independent Record Shops to the Internet: Recorded Music Communities in the Digital Age
The Internet has altered notions of space and place. This study examines these changes against the backdrop of the independent brick-and-mortar record shop, a location where the transforming power of music has traditionally brought people together. Ideas, opinions, and histories are shared. Musical projects and friendships are formed; the art form of music critiqued. Globally these stores have decreased in numbers significantly since the turn of the 21st Century, particularly affected by the ?post-Napster? growth in the online acquisition of music and other media forms. In considering the substantial decline in numbers of brick-and-mortar independent record shops, and in turn what these spaces offer the people who frequent them, this thesis questions how recent technological changes have affected the social interactions of communities that are based on recorded music, also exploring the changing ways in which people engage with recorded music in their everyday lives. In doing so, this study investigates how communities manifest themselves on the Internet, examining in turn what aspects of physical spaces and face-to-face interaction may not be replicated in the online environment. In a series of focus groups and semi-structured interviews, notions of ?space(s)? and ?place(s)? for modern music communities and subcultures are examined in the context of decreasing numbers of physical spaces to congregate. Participants describe a media acquisition and communication environment far more flexible and free than that of the past, though also identify that contemporary interactions with others seem to lack a depth of connection. The study then suggests that the independent brick-and-mortar record shop, or some variation of it, might continue to serve an important function as a space that encourages local face-to-face interactions in an increasingly globally networked world.