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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article is based on an ethnographic study of the independent (indie) rock scene in the east side Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park. There is very little money derived from music circulating in this scene (musicians are routinely paid only about $35–40 for a show), and musicians, indie label owners, and others attach symbolic values to certain amounts of money, which are viewed in terms of what they can help the musicians purchase, such as gas for the band’s van. People in the scene also produce and exchange value in a number of ways that aren’t capitalist, from generalized reciprocity to several forms of patronage. This article ultimately argues that scenes such as this are simultaneously maintained and destroyed by capitalism: maintained because capitalism needs a reserve army of those who operate outside of it but destroyed because such scenes are deprived of their ability to reproduce themselves given how little money circulates.

Keywords: indie rock, exchange, value, patronage, reciprocity, capitalism

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