Shine a Light: Surveying Locality, Independence, and Digitization in Ottawa’s Independent Rock Scene

Public Deposited
Resource Type
  • This dissertation examines the articulation and reconfiguration of locality in Ottawa's independent (indie) rock scene. It argues that styles of producing and relating to indie music that have been traditionally embedded in local scenic activity and practices of “do it yourself” (DIY) have been translated into more ubiquitous, quotidian, and valuable metadata and labour that organizes and powers the operations of disparate digital media sites, including digital music services like Bandcamp, CBC Radio 3, and Wyrd Distro. This argument is developed through closer analyses of the following case studies: the entrepreneurial strategies and musical focuses of Ottawa-based independent record labels Kelp and Bruised Tongue Records; scene-bound media like zines, blogs, music video and campus/community radio; the re-articulation of local regions as metadata that organize the search and retrieval functionalities of the digital music streaming services CBC Radio 3 and Bandcamp (a particular iteration of local regions I dub the “indexi-local”); and the concurrent incorporation of DIY labour and reconfiguration of the business of independent music evident in the digital music retailers Bandcamp and Wyrd Distro. This project contends that in the midst of digitization, the media sites, entrepreneurial strategies, and subcultural practices traditionally folded into the production of independence in local indie music scenes persist. This not only nuances narratives of upheaval advanced about digital media technologies, but also challenges narratives of decline and compromise recurrently articulated to the field of independent music. Contra academic and popular discourse that valorizes independent music for its ability to circulate outside of the “mainstream” musical, media, and cultural industries, this dissertation contends that independent music is entangled within these industries. Moreover, the persistence of local music scenes across the sites examined in this dissertation signals the continued value, power, and allure of independent music’s activities, subcultural commodities, and grassroots media sites to both scene participants and digital music services alike.

Thesis Degree Level
Thesis Degree Name
Thesis Degree Discipline
Rights Notes
  • Copyright © 2016 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2016


In Collection: