view of a computer screen with information about and images of a band

Revenge Tragedies MySpace page
Courtesy of Revenge Tragedies/MySpace

Sites playing a central role in the making of music scenes include not only real physical sites such as performance venues and rehearsal studios but also virtual sites.

The internet has played an increasingly important role in the development of music scenes since the early 1990s, providing musicians and music fans with new ways to interact and develop a sense of belonging to a scene. Through networking sites, blogs, message boards and chat forums scene participants can converse about music and share music sounds, experiences and information.

Some scenes are almost entirely dependent upon the internet. In the Iranian capital Tehran, for example, the alternative rock scene is described as 'underground' because of the alternative musical styles it promotes but it is also literally underground. Few bands have the necessary government authorisation to perform in public so many bands rehearse in private basements, a standard feature of Tehran apartment blocks built from the 1960s onwards. The ethnomusicologist Laudan Nooshin explains that because of the absence of physical spaces in which to perform;

"the internet is playing a crucial role, enabling musicians to communicate with each other and with audiences, effectively forming a virtual rock community. To quote from the lead singer of the band 127, 'The only club we have for playing is our website'. With increased access to the internet from the late 1990s, particularly among the middle classes, many musicians established their own websites, thereby making it possible for rock to be publicly available without having to pass through government channels. In comparison with existing means of circumventing central control - the black market or private concerts for example, the internet offered a relatively cheap, risk free and infinitely more flexible medium to access audiences, both inside and outside Iran." (Nooshin, 2005: 472)

The internet has helped to promote and market many other music scenes that get little promotion through the traditional mass media. This includes the world music scene:

"As we all know, the television and mainstream press and radio outlets for world music are minimal and for the most part don't reach a very wide public. With the advent of MySpace, email blasts, blogs, etc getting the word out is getting easier." (Jacob Edgar, CEO, Cumbancha, and A&R consultant for Putumayo World Music)

Liverpool's contemporary rock music scene includes an already large and ever-growing number of websites of different bands and music venues, as well as collective websites and online journals devoted to local music. The most popular website for Liverpool musicians is the MySpace portal, which hosts the profiles of local musicians and related audio and video clips and photographs. Such websites are important for well known musicians and their fans but also for musicians that are not yet well established and may not be signed to a record label or represented in the official music press.

The Liverpool-based band Elle S'appelle, for example, use the blog section of their MySpace profile as well as the news and message features on the Facebook portal to promote their live shows and radio appearances and the release of their first single. Links from their profiles are connected to interviews with and reviews of the band. Such links indicate the relationships between musicians and other key participants of the scene, such as local record labels, radio stations and music press. In fact record companies have been harnessing the power of the internet to reach music fans more directly, promoting new music and announcing new releases on websites such as MySpace.