A BASSNECTAR MASTER’S THESIS?!

April 25th, 2015

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Bassnectar NYE Nashville 2014Wow… this is literally a thesis on Bassnectar!

Or at least it’s examining networked culture using Bassnectar and our community as an example of this major socio-cultural shift…

Badass!

Click here to check it out in full:
http://works.gc.cuny.edu/etd/237/

(Special prize to the first person to read the whole thing and leave an educated response!)

Congrats to Samantha on getting her masters!
🙂

  • Tyler Bukowski

    I actually read the whole thing. I’m very passionate about dubstep and the live music experience so I found the way Samantha compared traditional, older style music consumption and immersion to the newer age more technical kind of experience. Through the generations it’s always intriguing to me how different and unique each eras music and music functions where. And how each generation will always remember those events as what their time was all about. The beginnings of dubstep are also very interesting too and I always enjoy a nice refresher on the early 2000’s in London. When I started reading the article, as Samantha described the scene of a bassnectar show, I honestly got goose bumps. It’s hard to put onto paper what a nectar show truly is in all its entirety but Samantha does an excellent job portraying the environment in a very vivid way. Music has continuously evolved, both in creation, distribution and live performance. And it will continue to do so. It’s a beautiful thing in my opinion, and I think with people like Lorin and other artists breaking boundaries im excited to see what’s in store.

  • Scott Prichard

    Wow. I just typed out 2 full paragraphs reviewing this amazing thesis and because of social media needing my login to make this post, removed my entire work. Talk about ironic. We’ll here’s to round 2, because I’m not a quitter.
    I read the entire thesis and I loved how Samantha described exactly what Lorin executes as the social media king. Her thesis basically states that Lorin, because of his interaction with his fans has changed the way producers use social network sites (SNS). I think the main reason that Lorin has become so successful is because he didn’t grow up rich and popular. He was an avid attendee of the underground rock scene in California. He saw first hand how much of a fan base you can build by interacting with fans. The underground rave scene, as most of us know makes it easier to interact with the DJ or band who is performing. There isn’t a 100′ stage where the artist gets ushered off away from the fans. It’s up close and personal and more intimate. I think Lorin noticed that this is the way to go to create a fanbase. He created a cultural paradigm shift in social media for dubstep producers by interacting with fans before, during, and after every show. By creating this “family” vibe for his fans, it creates a collective of people that never knew each other’s like and interests, able to connect with each other because of his music. It’s the love and caring attitude that literally proves this thesis. This post about this thesis is also exact proof of the thesis itself. Lorin took time out of his day to notice one person making a big impact on her life by continuing her education and providing a well though out thesis on cultural anthropology, and ethnomusicology. Which is a sub study under cultural anthropology. By using the emic approach to social media Lorin has paved the way for other popular producers to be proactive with their fans. I have noticed a rise of other producers actually making posts and tweets instead of their PR agents. It’s this cultural paradigm shift in social media that has changed the way producers interact with their fans. Something that politicians should look into, because they are becoming more and more unpopular because they don’t listen the the future leaders of this country. Us. Thank you for this share Lorin. It’s not everyday you get to make someone’s day, and I’m sure you made Samantha’s entire college and graduate worth it.

    Cheers,
    Scott Prichard
    Raveo.fm

  • Ni Colette

    Coming from someone who not only wrote a thesis, but has edited drafts for friends, I want to start off with saying this is a very well written thesis. Not too wordy, touches on the appropriate subjects to support her point, and goes into enough detail without going off on a tangent. As someone who has had to read multiple papers such as this, thank you for not making it torturous
    to get through.

    Now down to brass tacks, I believe the description of a Bassnectar show was fairly accurate a side from how much he interacts with the crowd. From my years of experience and accounts of numerous fans, this has gone down significantly over the years and I can only think of two instances where he actually came down to interact with the crowd. I’m going to expand upon this
    further as it ties in with her thesis, and due to his contradiction actions would have made for an interesting case study on how media is a useful and yet harmful tool to an artist’s agenda.

    Overall I feel she choose a great topic to show how a very living and mailable concept/organism can be spread and morphed through media. It’s riddled with controversy and apposing opinions, any of which can warrant a thorough thesis. This also helps keep it interesting as the affects of media are a very common subject in regards to privacy to the rearing of our children. In other words, it’s a great platform to start an insightful conversation. Though I will be honest, I don’t think Bassnectar is the best case study for this, especially now compared to previous years, but he still qualifies as a fair example of how, “Bassnectar’s approach to experiencing, distributing, and consuming music highlights the role of mobile connectivity and social network sites in the development of networked culture.”

    I believe it wise that Samantha gave a brief history of Dubstep and it’s development.
    It would be difficult to argue how “the impact of social networks and mobile connectivity” is scene through an artist and their music style without explaining the identity of said subjects. The history itself gave witness to how technology and culture not only affected it’s development but the actions of the artists and patrons involved to what we see today. I particularly enjoyed how she mentioned, “A product of technology, dubstep music was created with a laptop, Ableton Live, and an MPC, presenting a relevant cultural product to employ as the subject of an analysis that seeks to examine the influential factors in the networked society that produced it” because unlike more traditional forms of music production, the presence and main basis of technology as a developmental platform allowed artists to collaborate and take in the influences of styles and people not miles but countries away. What started off as a very personal form of expression, has now become the voice of potentially thousands of souls, further morphing the culture, sound and experience. Not only this, but as Bassnectar has shown, it allows artists to reflect current feels within the culture immediately as artists can remix a song in real time during a set.
    Again further exploring her point on “the impact of social networks and mobile connectivity” and how “these developments… helped create a more accessible and participatory culture” She goes on later to mention how, “On the contrary, some critics like Sherry Turkle argue that the rapid advancements in information communication technologies have had negative impacts, undermining users’ freedom and creativity” which is very interesting to me and make Bassnectar
    a PERFECT case-study thanks to the more recent set list controversy As mentioned previously, I’ll expand on this later as it doesn’t completely pertain to her topic but rather looks at it from the other side in which the artist fights the flow of information rather than embrace and utilize it.

    I thought it was wise to show how other artists used social media for their own personal gain, and reading some of the ways other artists used it only further made me feel that maybe another artist was a better case study. When I first read this topic of this thesis I immediately thought of Bro Safari, Deadmau5 and Krewella as their names are not only common within the DJ world but their presence in social media is vastly apparent, something I feel Bassnectar has strayed away from more and more.

    Bassnectar specifically capitalized on what scholars have described as the defining haracteristics of networked society: employing mobile connectivity to instantaneously communicate across a broad network at live events, distributing music via social networks and using these outlets as primary means for aggregating cultural content, and encouraging consumption through several diverse digital outlets thereby providing users with more choices. The short analysis of how platforms such Twitter and Facebook basically exploded along side the shift information (music) accessibility, was wise to include as it gave the reader a scope of social networking’s reach. I agree that technology and the SNS mentioned “enabling users to readily communicate with larger groups of individuals through a variety of outlets in a more unrestricted manner” but also have to give merit to the agruement that “… the structure of social network sites undermined users by taking advantage of them as unsuspecting participants.” I wish Samantha expanded on this second point a bit farther in the sense that false identities, intentions and messages could be created for the sake of corporate gain and at the expense of its unknowing victims. This could, in essence, not only communicate a false image of a culture but also mold a subject against the beliefs of its inhabitants. You can argue that this is already seen as kids were dropping like flies at last year’s Ultra from “too much EDM.”

    You can also see it on a smaller scale within the Bassnectar fan community. Literally within a week of, Lorin posting how he admired the group of young girls that threw a dance party of the bullied, over weight man a few weeks back, I see Facebook posts of people bashing attendees for ‘fist pumping’ because that’s not how you Bassnectar. Or better yet the COUNTLESS posts on how someone dodged a bullet because someone on a dating sight didn’t know Bassnectar or
    only knew of him/they (the debate on which is correct continues) because of the Skrillex channel. Not only do all of these posts go against the culture Bassnectar tries to correct, but it’s just flat
    out pompous, immature, rude and has no business in the fan community or any community. Tangent I know, but this high horse bullshit really pisses me off and I couldn’t help myself. Back on course, I agree with Samantha when she mentioned that, “However, as other scholars demonstrated, mobile connectivity and social networks provided more helpful contributions by presenting users with more accessible channels to communicate with more loosely affiliated groups of people, untethered by spatial proximity” and for the purposes of
    her paper this does support her thesis.

    Samantha goes on to depict the different experience a viewer would have at a DJ set compared to a more traditional instrumental set very well. I particularly enjoyed her comment of “live electronic music strikes many as oxymoronic” but considering how common recorded sets are and just the overall nature of a DJ set as apposed to a Metallica “live” takes on an entirely different meaning that is worth and necessary to mention for those that are unfamiliar with the culture. She expands on this, and I appreciate the dabble of humor, pointing out, “the nature of watching a man stand on stage and maneuver knobs and push buttons commanded a different type of focus than watching musicians play real instruments. To enhance the effect of the technologically created music, dubstep DJs’ concerts had a strong focus on large-scale audio, video, and lighting components. As Bassnectar himself expressed, his concert ‘experience was a physical one as well as a musical one’”.

    I found Rasmussen’s study, “indicating that as young Americans were rapidly adopting social networks they were also attending more concerts than any other demographic” to be a very interesting correlation. Was this due to the increased sharing of the experience of these events or more so because of the increased visual popularity? Another thesis, another time.

    The bit about Bassnectar communicating with his fans with a specific 2013 example was….well the subject of many discussions I’ve had with fellow fans. Straying slightly away from her paper, I can recall more frequent posts among Twitter, Instagram etc talking to fans, asking for feedback, advocating the support of charities or just expressing random thoughts, but I feel like these have gone down significantly. So much in fact that I myself even commented on the shear presence of
    a rogue Tweet, that was not music related because it feels like they have become far and in between. Their frequency have increased with numerous retweets of what fans are up too as of late but still not the same personal communications as before. This, as I briefly mentioned above, is why I think Bassnectar, at least now, may not be the best case study because his (not the fans’) interaction and use of social media has declined in comparison to many other DJs out
    there.

    Her passage on how “Bassnectar utilized this change to frequently release new music through SNS and allow his niche style music to achieve large-scale exposure. With this approach, Bassnectar’s music garnered the type of publicity and popularity that would have only previously been possible with a costly mass media campaign, affirming the participatory capabilities of these media,” is valid. With our current culture and form of information intake, if it’s not on Facebook it just didn’t happen. The comment following her example on how Bassnectar personally writes his posts and blogs and how this can be argued as a “marketing ploy” is a fair point and could even be argued that this was his intentions from the beginning. As she mentioned prior in her paper, Krewella owes their growth to their media presence and may very well not be the Krewella we love and hate without it. Her following examples of how Bassnectar used SNS and other forms of technology to spread his work and thoughts are valid and a great example of how both the distribution of not only music but information has changed but how quickly it can spread once
    released with the millions of views, retweets and shares.

    All in all, I will say again that this was a great thesis. It was well written, well formulated and properly supported. It also helps that it was an interesting topic so I don’t feel like it ever really got
    dry, but that’s my opinion and is subjected to my own biases. What she didn’t cover and I think would have been an interesting counterpoint to her thesis is how Bassnectar has not only utilized
    media to spread his views and reap the profit of his hard work but has also contradicted himself with his most recent actions, therefore hurting the possible effects one would attain by using social networks and mobile communications. Case in point, the sharing of set lists. Originally I was a bit on the fence with this topic and leaned more towards sharing of information, now I’m even more so on that side and to be frank, a bit pissed someone is trying to tell me how to enjoy an event and what parts of it I can and cannot utilize because of how someone else experiences it or wishes me to experience it. It’s like when I’m in a crowd and a guy tells me to smile because
    I don’t appear to be having a good enough time in his opinion. Just do you guy. I got this. Thanks. I feel like this very much reflects the actions Lorin used to advocate against. The taking in of information in the manner of somebody else’s instruction, and the blind following of numerous fans just eating up the rational behind it is both upsetting and disturbing. What happen to “stop and question”? I respect his views and find many of his points valid, but I could think of many counter points to each. The reason I bring this up as it relates to her paper, in that it ceases not only communication but connection with your audience and the members within it from each other and just overall growth of the culture and movement. Aside from the fact that this is a free form of marketing by not only spreading your product but also spreading the awareness
    of his and other artists work, however accurate you may argue it to be, but in order to do this, information about the event inevitably comes with it, effectively drawing in more fans and higher ticket sales. It is here where I must say that Bassnectar is a great case study because his use of the media and mobile connectivity has not only changed but fluctuated over the years. I’m interested to see statistically how this has effected ticket sales, audience demographic, fan culture and a closer analysis of his music style as Sam’s paper illustrated, these all go hand in hand effecting one another, but this would be a new thesis all together. I know I’ve had numerous conversations with fans that have either become more attracted or disinterested in Bassnectar and his shows for these reasons; his decreases in advocating various causes in his music and
    social media, to the change in his fan demographic as his popularity grew which one could argue caused it to stray from his original ideals.

    Anyway I just realized how long this is, and that I totally nerded out on a beautiful Saturday so I’m going to go play in the sun now. Moral of the story is, great paper and a solid platform for a future doctoral paper if she wishes to expand upon it. Thanks for the good read.

    • heraclitus

      a thesis on a thesis!

      • Ni Colette

        Haha can you tell I wrote a lot of papers?

  • Eddie Richard

    She nailed it.

    This thesis successfully illustrates how the departure from traditional music mediums is not a departure from music, but actually a pioneering platform for greater exploration of our natural attraction to rhythm and dance. Samantha also demonstrates how social media, also a departure from traditional communication, can bolster like-minded connectivity like never before.

    The onset of the ‘triple revolution’ (“the rise of social networking, the capacity of the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices”) is often viewed as an epidemic in American society. While a multitude of press urging electronics users to limit their usage of these devices exists both for safety and philosophical reasoning, the actual benefits are seldom highlighted with such clarity. The thesis contains a wonderful list of examples of electronics being used for positive growth within the Bassnectar community; family photos, visual art and the use of social media to spread updates to fans tremendously enhance the experience. The closeness between Lorin, the fans and other producers transcends music altogether.

    Dubstep is one of the most difficult music genres to define because of its constantly morphing direction. On page 19, Samantha states that dubstep is “both a product of and a reaction to its original industrial urban surroundings and the rise of digital technology that characterized the first decade of the 21st century.” This description changed my perspective on the entrance of dubstep into popular culture. The origins of dubstep can be traced to South London in the late 1990s (Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster chronicles the onset of electronic music and live production), but the “reaction to its original industrial urban surroundings is much better described in this thesis. I agree with the argument that dubstep, despite being conceived from the “techno” era, is a genre that is often pushed to be something its origins never lent any inspiration toward. Steady beats, logical chord progression, and stiffly defined verses and choruses? Throw it all out. This is the age of wacky exploration.

    I also need to mention the chills I felt as I read the introduction. Samantha describes the Beethoven Fifth Symphony sample with amazing clarity. This composition, mixed into Wildstyle Method, was the first Nectar moment I experienced live at the House of Blues in Boston, during the 2012 Spring Tour. I knew within the first minute of the set that I made the right decision to attend. 18 Bassnectar shows later, I never could have guessed the impact that first night would have on my life. I never understood how deeply I longed for sonic healing until I could feel it in my chest at every show.

    This thesis reinforces everything I have come to beckon for in the electronic music community. I am no longer afraid of the industrialization of “EDM” and massive music festivals. The most impactful revolution in the digital music era is already in progress thanks to Bassnectar and other producers like A-Trak, ill.Gates and Tipper. I’ve come to embrace technology instead of fearing its reach because of the positive examples used in the extended Bassnectar universe.

    edit: like Nicolette below, I just realized how hard I nerded out on this beautiful Saturday afternoon! Time to go get some SUN 🙂

  • Kasey Johnson

    I’m in the process of reading this now, as I’m also writing my thesis on music festival experience. YOU ROCK SAMANTHA! You have proved that our love for music CAN be explained in academic terms. I hope that I am able to do the same. If you see this, I’d love to talk to you sometime! Congrats!!!

  • Nora Peckham

    After reading this I can definitely say that I totally agree with her points!! As a youngin’ myself it’s actually very inspiring for me to see someone in this generation write their Master’s thesis on something so relevant to today’s culture. I’m only 18, and this just gives me so much hope for the future possibilities of acceptance and understanding in the social media world and of course the EDM/dubstep scene. I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold, and who knows, maybe I’ll end up writing my thesis some day about Bassnectar and his incredible performance at Wakarusa last year and how it evidently changed my life. 😉 much love!!!

  • Cazzy

    Very interezting article indeed! Forgive my uze of “Z”‘z but I alwayz write like that az a play on my name. Informative and very well written Samantha! It waz koolnezz to zee the journey’z through time and hiztory, even though…they have pretty much done away with inztrumentz that muzicianz actually play in EDM. I ztill do love the beatz and the rhythmz and the dropz. The main reazon why I have for 15 yearz played guitar with DJ’z. Perhapz even one day. with Bassnectar. 🙂 Peace. One Love. <3 Cazzy the Alien