What the Web Means for Underground Music

In the August/September issue of The Journal of Music, Stephen Graham explores how the universal and easy access to songs is changing the definition and role of underground music.

The underground is a guerrilla philosophy that is mostly defined in relation to the mainstream, and so could be anything at any time. Defining it in concrete, practical terms is therefore a tricky business. Frank Zappa tried: 'The mainstream comes to you, but you have to go to the underground'. In the sixties, seventies and eighties, the fact of having to go to the underground was more clear cut, but since the advent of digital technology and the web, such a relation has become confused. MP3 blogs and file sharing websites, in addition to social networking platforms such as MySpace, have all facilitated the spread of underground music in a way that was inconceivable in the pre-internet age, when small fanzines and bootlegged tapes dominated. Everything has become available, everywhere, all of the time: culture has become flat.

Read the full story at The Journal of Music.

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Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.

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