Exactly thirty years ago this year, the UK gave the world rave culture. In 1987, British music and youth culture went through the biggest musical and cultural change since the flower power revolution of the sixties. The music was new, the drugs were new and in combination of the two, made the worlds ‘second summer of love” following Woodstock, 1969. An intense rapture that lasted from the early 80s to the mid-90s that enveloped Britain’s young people in a sybaritic cloud of love, a huge sense of unity and most of all. Peace. At the end of the decade, the third conservative party win meant for social division and mass unemployment. Acid rave and many other sub genres of rave meant for a pre-eminence among class, race, country and hometown.
“An entire generation came up together”
Amid this huge music phenomenon, the roots of many new business models that influence many music orientated and non-music orientated businesses slowly began to emerge as well as nostalgia focused models that have only been used most recently. This could be in relation to huge music festivals such as Creamfields being influenced from illegal grubby pop up warehouse raves. Music production and the ways in which modern electronic music artists create new music. Club nights and the marketing techniques behind them and the huge influence in style seen in today’s youth through vintage clothing brands established those 30 years ago. It is possible to formulate comparisons between these especially from a business perspective however researching in to this topic appears to be very complicated as the illicitness of a lot of the business and commercialisation practices used those thirty years ago has meant that many music historians have shy-ed away from covering this very important gap within modern music literature. This has also meant that even the business practices, that occurred, that were not illicit have also not been covered from a historical literature point of view, or if have, been mostly neglected so that research from a practioner and non-practioner perspective is difficult to access or just not accessible.
The research problem that I have gathered is that there is insufficient evidence out there that rave culture originating in the late 80s and 90s is responsible for the boom in music business models and non-music business models seen today or any sort of clear comparison between then and now that can be used for practitioner and non-practitioner use. As mentioned, my evidence for this problem proves itself in the difficulty of researching this very specific and hugely interrelated topic especially when you include and talk about how many different business sectors including fashion and club cultures are still affected by this important period. From my long time spent researching I have found little to no articles, texts or studies from recent times that gives enough justice to my chosen field that gives an overall perspective of raves influence on music business today from a new fresh and modern perspective.
As can be seen from my literature review I spent time researching in to my topic by reading many peer reviewed articles, books and important pieces that delve in to the different aspects of my topic that will make up my conceptual framework. Most of these pieces go very in to depth in to areas such as the way in which illegal raves thirty years ago were structured, set up, broken down as well as marketed and promoted. Many also talk about the ebb and flow of popular club scenes around the world during this period and the ways in which new forms sound production technology and live performance have revolutionised modern day popular music. Some articles, also talk about the ways in which fashion during this period has evolved alongside the scene itself and how it was influenced from drug use, American house music and Ibiza. Of course, there are also historical papers that praise pioneers of the original rave scene – Paul Oakenfold, Danny Rampling and Nicky Holloway – and give credit to them for popularizing the ethos and music of the early underground scene.
These texts are useful for researching general rave culture from the general history of rave culture to fashion trends, changes in music production and live performance as well as the hundreds of illegal and legal raves that happened during this period. From my own research in to these texts however and many alike there is not a clear area that delves in to how rave culture has influenced so much of today’s live music, music production and fashion business sectors. I feel that so much of today’s music business scene is directly interrelated with the rise of rave culture but a modern day, detailed and clear comparison, has not yet been accounted amongst modern literature. A reason being that most of the texts and articles I have found have been written many years ago, when no, if any, clear influence could be studied and accounted. Nowadays, techno and rave music is dominant amongst today’s youth as its popularity has sky rocketed in the past few years. Thus, on this important anniversary of rave culture, this is the best time to research this gap in literature within this new renaissance of techno, rave and electronic music.
The research question that I have crafted from researching in to my problem is…
“How has the vintage status of 80’s and 90’s rave culture influenced business models in music and aligned creative sectors?”
My question is an In-Depth explorative case study in to the factors in business modelling developed by practitioners within the 90s and 80s rave scene (the phenomena) that has influenced modern music and non-music business models and aligned creative sectors in Edinburgh, Scotland (the setting) through diligent qualitative research with members of the rave scene (the participants) I have chosen to conduct my research in my hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland for two reasons. The first reason is that over the years I have watched Edinburgh’s rave culture scene grown at an astounding pace in which a huge majority of clubs in the old town of Edinburgh are dominated with sub genres of rave culture from drum and bass to Acid House. From my experience living in Edinburgh and being part of a hugely diverse sub culture, conducting my research in Edinburgh appeals to me on a personal level as I have watched various sub genres within rave culture come and go, clubs close and open and fashion trends come and go. This all gives me the best advantage when conducting my research. The second reason I am working within Edinburgh is that I have already developed many relationships with contacts I have networked with in the past including fashion brand owners and club night organisers and managers as well as non-professionals and people with first hand experience of my topic – these people being the participants of my research. It is through these contacts I have gathered most of my research, adapting a qualitative research method – qualitative because I can gather most of my research this way.
The answer to my question will likely prove how much rave culture has influenced modern business models and aligned creative sectors and provide a not yet detailed comparison of the music genres influence in relation to fashion brands, live music and production of music. In terms of practical importance, I hope to try to solve my problem by providing a text that can be used for both practitioners and non-practitioners. My question will fill in my gap in literature by providing a clear and concise analysis that delves in to how the business of rave culture has influenced so much of today’s live music, music production and fashion sectors where there is already a great deal of information covering the culture of rave music. This can then can be used for students such as myself as well as researchers or practitioners to study this large gap within modern music literature (Theoretical Importance) It is important to answer this question now as there is a new renaissance emerging within modern day rave culture that has enveloped so many areas of the creative sectors which undoubtebly calls for a modern-day analysis that can be used as a point of reference for future generations.
My conceptual framework is not made up of predicted category’s but exploratory category’s that I have researched in a narrative form. My framework is made up in the way in which the vintage style of rave culture has influenced and impacted fashion, music production and live music. I predict that my phenomena in question has affected each piece of framework within their own creative sectors in ways that are all interrelated with each other although differ in degrees of influence. For each piece of framework, I have created one or more case studies to identify the relationship rave culture has had on them so that I can easily identify the relationships between each and explore it further.
In this thesis, I will be exploring several music and non-music business models, inspired and influenced, by the introduction of rave culture in the late 80s and 90s, exploring different case studies within each piece of conceptual framework, to provide a text that can be used for practioner and non practioner use, from a fresh and modern-day perspective. Continuing, my literature review has provided the foundations for my research in which a general understanding of my topic can be attained.