Monika E. Schoop

Tracing (Trans-)Local Networks – An Ethnography of Independent Music in Metro Manila


Since the turn of the century, the impact of digital technologies on the promotion, production and distribution of music in the Philippines has both enabled and necessitated an increase in independent musical practices. CD piracy and later on file sharing have caused major labels to shut down their Philippine offices. At the same time, increased access to broadband internet, the popularity of social media platforms and home recording technology have significantly increased musicians’ opportunities to operate independently.

In Metro Manila, a vivid independent scene has emerged, whose members successfully record and distribute their music. The independent scene provides an interesting case study for scene research, challenging common notions of music scenes. In contrast to the widespread assumption that a central genre or a common musical taste is indispensable for the formation of a scene, the independent scene is instead characterized by musical diversity, encompassing genres as diverse as indie rock and pop, electronica, post-rock and reggae. Personal ties are more important than a commonly shared type of music, and networks of friendship and collaboration are regarded as vital for the scene. These networks are sustained online – especially through social media platforms – and offline, most notably through live gigs. Applying approaches from urban ethnomusicology and online ethnography, I explore the scene’s local, translocal and virtual networks and utilize mapping as a tool for scene research. Moving on from the networks I raise the question of who is – and can become part of – these networks, and explore socio-economic and infrastructural conditions, which shape the scene and scene participation.

University of the Philippines College of Music, Ylanan Street, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
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