Meeting and interacting

three men playing music in the street together, 2 on guitar and one drumming

© iStockphoto.com/Jennifer Trinchard

By participating in music scenes people meet and interact with one another, and this interaction can take different forms.

Some local scenes depend upon regular face-to-face meetings. Liverpool's noise scene, for example, is based around a punk-influenced style of rock music that started to become popular in the 1980s and is characterised by an emphasis on musical dissonance. The scene is described by one of the musicians who participates in it as 'tight-knit and incestuous' because of the close relationships between the musicians and fans involved. Most of the scene's participants know each other quite well and meet up regularly. The musicians frequently move from one noise band to another, which has strengthened connections between them.

Many music scenes are broader in scale however and depend upon interactions between people living some distance apart. This is a characteristic of the worldwide Bruce Springsteen scene involving fans from many different countries. Despite the fact that they are so widely dispersed these fans nevertheless manage to create a sense of belonging to one single scene, and even to a Springsteen community. They achieve this in various ways, such as exchanging stories about how they first came to be a Springsteen fan, and through different types of communication, including internet communication (Cavicchi, 1998).

The internet has provided musicians and music fans with new ways to interact in order to share information and knowledge about music and develop a sense of belonging to a scene. Fans can converse about music online; write reviews of gigs, tracks and albums on their blogs; display and share playlists; and chat about their favourite musicians and bands on internet message boards. In fact some fan-based scenes are almost entirely dependent upon the internet. This is partly because those involved live a considerable distance apart from each other. They may also have few opportunities or little inclination to gather together face-to-face with other fans and display their fandom publicly. The internet nevertheless allows them to create and maintain a virtual scene.

Many Beatles fans, for example, engage in email discussion groups, meeting up virtually where they cannot meet in person and posting messages, photos and videos discussing all aspects of the Beatles' career. There are hundreds of fan forums for just the Beatles alone. Some like 'BFFW' focus on fan fiction. Individual fans write and exchange stories featuring the Beatles as the main characters. Other forums, like the British Beatles Fan Club, are more general in nature with discussions of news about the group, reviews of events like tribute band performances and fan conventions, and local events where participants organise Beatle-themed meetings and happenings. Beyond such discussion groups Beatles fans also interact with each other via social networking sites like Bebo and Facebook.

Meetings and interactions between scene participants are not always friendly and productive. Relationships frequently break down, sometimes leading to the fragmentation of the scene and perhaps the formation of new scenes.