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Rotown, a study on music scenes and venues


This is a pilot research project on the topic of Music Scene in popular music, exploring the connections between music, place and audience.

To acknowledge the social and cultural meanings of popular music, one must examine the venues where music is experienced on an everyday basis. In an urban landscape, music functions as a “pathway” (Finnegan as cited in Whiteley, Bennett, Hawkins, 2004) through which people gather under the same music style. As it is explained throughout this research, these pathways can be understood as music scenes, specific clusters where music is created, consumed, and produced (Bennet and Peterson, 2004).

For understanding the concept of music scene, we chose Rotown as case study. The availability of access, together with an exiting agenda that invokes music mixtures, non-localities and modernity make Rotown a perfect setting to investigate a pop music venue, reflecting a rich diversity worthy of investigation.

Rotown is a music venue in the city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Founded in 1987, it participates in Rotterdam’s music scene, with both live bands’ performances and DJ acts. At the moment, it constitutes an indispensable music stage for Rotterdam and the Netherlands, as over time, it has hosted performances of many upcoming artists such as The Wombats, The Kooks, Franz Ferdinand, amongst others . When there is no band, the DJ mixes genres such as indie, alternative and electronic. Rotown has two bars, one with a stage; then a restaurant and also a records store. The main bar, which is accessed from the main door, is usually more crowded and with louder music than the other.

As initial literature review indicated, most arguments concerning the music scene usually work with the concept of a music stage and the process of music-making (Bennett, 1999, Bader & Scharenberg, 2010), rather than with how audience perceives a music scene. As mentioned by Pitts (2005, p. 258), much of the information from cultural studies in regards to the music scene is concentrated in music performance and industry, and we found that an extensive study on audience perception of a music scene was not available. Hence, we attempt to contribute to scholarship by bridging this gap. In our scattered direct observation of the scene of Rotown, we got interested whether audiences would be aware of the scene itself and decided to investigate further to what extent and in which ways this flow of affinities would bring about an awareness of a music scene (Kruse, 1993) and how the audience recognize Rotown and themselves as part of such scene.

​Place and Music
As said before, and following the steps of Bader & Scharenberg (2010), the idea of a music place can be translated as a context that has a particular environment essential for creative industries to bloom. When analyzing Berlin’s local music scene (2010), they imply that the enterprises selection of specific locations for the building of cultural clusters is usually a response to a creative input that already existed in the production of cultural goods (ibid). In other words, there is a “creative vibe” available (Santagata, 2002, as cited in Bader & Scharenberg, 2010) that needs a venue or a space where it can stimulate the production and consumption of cultural goods.
In their opinion, usually a venue is destined to a certain “niche market” (2010), which means that consumers have a wide variety of products to choose from in order to differentiate themselves from others.
Cohen (1995) fulfills this explanation: “music plays a role in producing place as a material setting compromising the physical and built environment; as a setting for everyday social relations, practices and interactions; and as a concept or symbol that is represented or interpreted” (p. 434).

In a music scene where a live performance takes place, music performance transforms the place into an “identifiable space” (Kronenburg, 2011) where the audience, the performers and the business meet and share at different levels the use of the venue. Music scene is transformed into a social link between diverse actors. Being at a musical event means that “the ‘ideology of authenticity’ in ‘live’ music is paramount, it is the context in which communication between musicians and audiences is perceived to be the most direct” (Connell and Gibson, 2003, p. 29). This argument is extremely important in relation to the audience perception of a music scene. A venue provides support for musical activity, as Kronenburg (2011) also implies that music performance depends entirely on the space where it happens….continue reading


Despre andreeadanescu (45 de articole)
Cultural entrepreneur on the serious times, lover of beautiful things on my free time.

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