I chose to do a video to present my DA, as well as some of my self-study I undertook as part of my auto-ethnographic research.
In my previous blog posts I have narrowed my field site, planned my approach and discussed my background research and ethics. This comes together to form my topic, which is Australian indie music, specifically where and how people discover music within the genre.
My digital artefact will feature content posted to TikTok, with supporting content on Spotify. I will be making TikToks that feature Australian indie bands and artists and my music recommendations. I’ve found lots of new indie music on Tiktok recently but it is predominantly American and British. This means there is already a demand for music content on the app, and an opportunity to introduce more Australian artists. I will then accompany my TikToks with Spotify playlists including the featured artists and additional music.
I chose these two platforms as I believe they are two of the most accessible platforms right now to discover new music, and have both been ways I’ve recently found lots of new music. I also think creating content through these platforms will help me immerse myself even deeper into the community and inspire me to find unconventional ways of discovering new music to feature in my content.
There are a few particular questions I’m looking to answer through my auto-ethnographic study. These include:
- Where and how do listeners of Australian indie music discover new music within the genre?
- What are the most unique ways people have discovered some of their favourite bands and artists?
- What kind of stories come with discovering different artists? Are there similarities between fans of the same artists?
- Does the way you discover an artist impact on the engagement you have with them? (eg. are you more likely to become a big fan of a band by listening to them on Spotify or in a live setting first?)
Research and Ethics
As stated in my previous blog post, I’ve struggled to find academic sources on “discovering new music”, however I’m sure something may come up with further searching.
I found multiple articles, such as this one from Vulture. It lists “the best ways” to discover new music according to popular artists such as A$AP Ferg. This does help create a basis for my research, however, with my focus on Australian indie music, there is a lack of articles that actually focus on the genre.
I have realised by the lack of academic sources that currently exist on this topic, a lot of the research that I base my digital artefact and research report on will be quantitative and qualitative research that I actually find myself.
I believe my starting point for research will be simply posing the question “how/where did you first discover *insert band/artist here*?” in the various Facebook groups I’m in for my favourite artists. I will then consider following this up with further related questions.
Reflecting on my own experiences and the ways in which I have discovered various Australian indie bands and artists has also been a starting point for my research. Below is a list of all the ways I’ve found music that I could remember from the top of my head:
The expected ethical practices will be put in place throughout my research, digital artefact and research report.
As my research will revolve around music, I will need to ensure I do not commit any copyright breaches. I will also need to be cautious of any biases I hold about anything to do with my niche, and make sure this is not projected in my research or report.
I will also make sure to conduct any interviews or qualitative research with the highest care for the other person/people involved and ensure any privacy or ethical concerns they have are addressed appropriately.
My research will definitely be more qualitative research-based. As Donna Mertens stated, “the ethical principles that guide qualitative researchers are complex because their work involves interactions with community members in ways that are more involved than they are with quantitative researchers” (Mertens, 2014). As this is the case, I will need to be extra careful to ensure all my research is ethical.
Something I also need to take into consideration in my ethical research is a point that Rachel Winter and Anna Lavis bring up on online ethnography: “the necessity of paying attention to listening is drawn to the fore by considering the dynamics of social media” (Winter, Lavis, 2020). The majority of my research, if not all of it, will be conducted online and through social media. Therefore, I need to ensure that I consider the dynamics of communication through online platforms, and that I am listening and communicating to the same standard I would if the interactions were face-to-face.
Mertens, D. 2014. Ethical Use of Qualitative Data and Findings, The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis (Edited by Use Flick), Sage: Los Angeles, 510 – 523
Winter, R & Lavis, A 2020,’ Looking, But Not Listening? Theorizing the Practice and Ethics of Online Ethnography,’ Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, Vol. 15
Planning My Approach
The Australian indie music scene is something that I have been involved in since I started high school and found that there was more music out there than what was in the top charts on iTunes. Getting wifi in my house after years of a plug-in internet dongle and my first mobile phone also helped my new music discoveries. Reflecting on the ways in which I’ve found music, specifically of the Australian indie persuasion, over the past few years has inspired me to discover how others have found the same music.
As I stated in my last blogpost, I have problematised my media niche by focusing on the ways (WHERE?/HOW?) in which listeners of Australian indie discover new music within the genre.
Through my own personal experiences, I have found that the locality of the genre has allowed me to discover new music in many ways, both physically and digitally. This means that for each band and artist within the genre, there are many ways in which they could be discovered by an individual.
Some of these discoveries may also involve special stories or memories that are linked to a specific song or band. This is something that has really interested me and is something I want to uncover through my research.
A personal example is one of my first physical experiences of Australian indie music. I was offered a free ticket to the all ages day of the ‘Yours & Owls Festival‘ in 2015. I rocked up as a barely 15-year-old girl for my first festival and was introduced to bands such as ‘Gang of Youths‘, ‘The Rubens‘, ‘Skegss‘, ‘The Delta Riggs‘ and ‘The Smith Street Band‘. All of these bands have since become big players in the Australian indie music scene, and I still listen to some of them to this day.
The methodologies of observation and auto ethnography will be key to my research on my niche.
Observation is a procedure for generating understanding about the way of life of others (Dawson, 2002). This is done through the researcher immersing themselves into the community they are studying (Dawson, 2002). As a major consumer of all things Australian indie, I am already heavily involved in the community in a number of ways, so this will come somewhat naturally to me.
This fits in with auto ethnography. According to Leon Anderson, “analytic auto-ethnography requires being fully immersed as a participant self-observer in the field of research” (Anderson, 2006). As Chris also further highlighted in the Week 3 lecture, “it is not enough simply to look in, you have to participate and do, to experiment, tangle with, look at the experience from different perspectives and speak to others that are similarly engaged.”
By engaging more in the Facebook fan discussion groups I’m a member of, speaking with other Aus indie fans and reflecting on my own practises of discovering music, I’ll be doing just that.
To keep track of all my research, I’ll be combining any notes, screenshots and quotes into a desktop folder on my computer. I’ll also keep any handwritten notes together in a notebook dedicated to my work in this subject.
Anderson, L. 2006. Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393.
Dawson Catherine (2002) How to Carry Out Participant Observation, in Practical Research Methods A User-Friendly Guide to Mastering Research Techniques and Projects, HowTo Books: Oxford.
Narrowing My Field Site
From the ideas I pitched in my previous blogpost, I have decided that the niche I will be ethnographically researching is the Australian indie music scene. I decided on this particular topic due to how passionate and immersed I already am in Australian indie music, which should hopefully assist in my research.
To narrow this niche further, I will be specifically looking at how listeners of indie music discover the bands and musicians they listen to and what platforms they use to listen to the music they discover.
I created a mind map to visualise the ways I, and other listeners of indie music, interact with the genre.
This mind map formed my field site which can be defined as ‘the spatial characteristics of a field-based research project, the stage on which the social processes under study take place’ (Burrell, 2009). This field site is an important basis for my ethnographic research as it is highlights what my research will and will not cover.
After identifying my field site, I became more aware to the fact that the Australian indie music scene, as well as indie music across the world, relies heavily on almost an equal amount of digital and physical landscapes.
I also realised this to be true for myself and to the specific topic I had narrowed down. Some of my favourite artists and songs have been discovered through aspects of the physical landscapes like concerts and festivals, as well as random aspects of the digital landscape such as Triple J’s ‘Like a Version‘ and Amoeba Music’s ‘What’s in my Bag?‘.
By ethnographically exploring this particular niche I hope to develop my research skills through a topic I am very interested in and passionate about. Then, by using this research I hope to be able to expand my creative skills but turning the information I find into a successful digital artefact.
Ethnographically exploring this niche will aid me in current times and in the future. I will uncover new methods of finding music through the experiences of others, which is something I’m always keen to do. For the future, learning this information may be useful to a future career I’m interested in. Any career involving live music and/or music promotion is something I have always considered pursuing, so researching how people engage with different platforms and landscapes within the niche of Australian indie music would be helpful for this.
The information I discover may also be of interest to people such as upcoming Australian bands and promoters as it will show the variety of ways and places people discover and listen to music.
I struggled to find relevant scholarly research to this topic, except for one paper that may be of interest. It revolves around the Australian indie music scene and its link to festivals, the sub-culture and also the sense of community of the scene (Cummings, 2005). This is something I immediately related to the many Facebook discussion groups I am involved in for some of my favourite bands such as ‘Spacey Jane Thrillposting‘ and ‘Ball Park Music (everything is) Shitposting‘. My connection with these groups is something I can definitely utilise to gain important qualitative and quantitative research.
In terms of problematising my media niche, I will aim to uncover the many unique ways in which Australian indie music fans discover new music within the genre. By doing this, I hope to find relevant information that is not only of interest to fans, but artists too, to aid in the discovery of new music.
Burrell, J. 2009. ‘The field site as a network: a strategy for locating ethnographic research’, Field Methods, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 181 – 199
Cummings, J. (2005). Australian indie music festivals as scenes. Tasa 2005 Conference, University Of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, 5 – 8 December 2005: Refereed Papers. Accessed online: https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws:6573
What is my media niche?
For BCM241 (Media Ethnographies), we have been asked to identify a media niche we are involved or interested in to ethnographically research for our major assignment. I have many niches I’m interested in and struggled to narrow it down to a single idea. I have two niches to discuss in this blogpost, which may actually help me make my decision.
Niche #1 : “Underground” and “Indie” Australian (and other) Musicians and Bands
This is a niche I’ve been involved in since around 2012/13 when I began high school and started expanding my music taste, and listening to Triple J. Since then I’ve always loved finding new bands, going to as many concerts and festivals (and North Gong Sundays) as I can afford, buying lots of merch and making Spotify playlists and recommendations to my friends. Now, due to COVID-19, I’ve also been viewing plenty of live streams and music videos from my favourite artists.
Due to Triple J’s large following and the constantly evolving use of social media across the past decade, many indie Australian bands such as Ocean Alley and Windang locals, Hockey Dad have actually become quite well-known nationally and internationally. However, there are still many Australian artists and bands I believe are majorly underrated within our own country, and this is something I hope will change within the next few years.
I would love to explore the ways in which other music lovers, like myself, find and interact with new music, and what their preferred “methods” are. I would also like to explore the utilisation of TikTok to promote smaller bands and musicians. This is something I have noticed more on my TikTok “For You Page” with many bands combining popular trends with their music to reach a larger audience.
Something I also find interesting as a listener of indie music is the “subculture/lifestyle” that comes with it. I think many young Australians would have a preconceived idea of what a stereotypical Triple J listener would look like and how they would act, and this is also something that could be explored.
Niche #2 One Direction
I’m not going to lie, One Direction was the first thought I had when I posed the question, “what is my media niche?”, to myself. I have been a fan of One Direction since I first heard ‘What Makes You Beautiful‘ in 2011. Something I’ve found really interesting about One Direction, and particularly their fans, is that 99% of them never really grow out of their One Direction phase. The popularity of One Direction within this degree was also confirmed to me when I made this tweet the other day, which convinced me that 1D could be a possible niche I could explore.
Just to expose myself further, I’m watching ‘One Direction: Where We Are – Live from San Siro Stadium’ as I write this blogpost. (Yes, that is a link to watch the film in its entirety on YouTube.)
Personally, I’ve recently noticed a new wave of One Direction fans, which may correlate with a number of factors like boredom during lockdown, the 10 year anniversary of the band (which was a couple of weeks ago) and the increasing popularity of different 1D trends and songs on TikTok. For a more personal example of this “new wave”, my younger sister and her friends (who were only 7 when One Direction went on an “18-month hiatus”) all identify as big One Direction fans, know all their songs and now follow the boys’ solo careers.
I’d love to explore the fan culture of One Direction. What are the different ways One Direction fans express themselves across multiple media platforms? How do fans continue to make new content about the band five years after their split? How has this helped One Direction and their solo careers remain relevant in the media? What are the different fan conspiracies and theories that surround 1D? What makes people remain such big fans of the band, despite there being no signs of a reunion anytime soon? (that hurt me to write lol)