Contemporary Music Led Subcultures: Indie and Club Culture

Music and subcultures have always been intertwined, many subcultures are dominated, and even named after their music genre, Punk, Indie, Mods and Rockers are all examples. Indie and club are the most contemporary example of a music-led subculture, and differ greatly from their predecessors with the invention of social media and streaming based music services. While these changes have increased the subjectivity between different genre’s.

Even for the most adamant ‘indie’ it is impossible to create a conclusive list of indie bands without debate over artists that should, or should not be included (Fonarow, 2013, p39). Indie has ‘no exact definition’, it is not a ‘stable object’ and it cannot be describe in the same manner as modssomething that is (Fonarow, 2013, p39). It is a ‘self-definition’ that differs on the group of people, and in order for this group to form ‘members need to create a set of boundaries between what constitutes and what excludes membership’ (Fonarow, 2013, p39). This is because fans are no longer bound by magazines which tell them what is and what is not indie, while social media has given them a platform to discuss this. 

What is conclusive about Indie groups is their desire to be different (Fonarow, 2013, p39). The sound of their favourite band is different and unusual, they are signed to unknown independent record label and they write their own music (Fonarow, 2013, p39).

Previously an indie’s favourite new bands would have came from indie magazines such as NME, with users ritually reading each weeks issue to discover the latest new band. However magazines are currently in the process of being overtaken by streaming based music service’s such as Spotify in this regard. Spotify recommends new songs and artists to it’s users, adding over 20,000 songs to its database daily. It allows them to discover more than ever before, with over 75 million users it’s effect has been powerful.

Social Media has had a similar effect, becoming a primary source of music reviews for indie fans, the instant a single is released, you can find thousands of tweets from fans giving their opinions on the song. Whereas journalist-lead reviews will be posted online before the release of a magazine.

Indie has also transformed ‘club culture’, where there has been a shift from club’s purely devoted to house or dance music to an increasing amount of indie based, alternative nightclubs. Sarah Thornton (1997) describes ‘club culture’ as “British youth cultures for whom dance clubs and their offshoot, raves, are the symbolic axis and working social hub”. Manchester is one of the countries biggest club cities, and has a plethora of ‘Indie clubs’ including Remake-Remodel, 42nd Street, The Venue and Goo at The Deaf Institute proving that there has been a shift from tradition nightclubs.The-Deaf-Institute-Manchester

Many subcultures are based on a set of ideas, a specific fashion choice or music choice, such as the mods who ere simonise for their ‘neat and tidy style’ which included ‘conservative suits’ and short cut hair (Page 52 Hebdige). Whereas Club Culture is ever changing and evolving, they are based on the latest fad or craze, those within the subcultures are always ‘in the know’ about the latest ‘hot club’ (Thornton, 1997, p 200). Each generation of club culture has it’s own fashion, music choice and venue choice, and even these will continuously change (Thornton, 1997, p 200).

A prime example being the latest craze of 80’s bars, such as Mavericks in Huddersfield, one third year student said: “When I moved here, you wouldn’t be seen dead in Mavericks, mavsit was just for older people, but now it is one of the most popular clubs in Huddersfield, both Tokyo and Camel Club have their own 80’s or 90’s throwback nights now.” Indie clubs such as Manchester’s 42nd street are also among the latest craze in club culture, while clubs that play ‘house’ and ‘dance’ music are falling being.

Music has always influenced subcultures strongly and continues to today, but in different ways than before with the invention of social media and the constant changes of club culture. No longer are we forced into our opinions by magazines, leading to more subjectivity in music genres than ever before. What remain are the core ideas of music led subcultures, the desire to be different from others and the connection of music.


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