Bedrooms Online: Amateur DJs and the Expression of Masculinity in a Web 2.0 Environment

Katharine Joo

Abstract


As DJ equipment and software has become more affordable, increasing numbers of aspiring DJ's have sought out instruction in order to try their hand at mixing, scratching, and spinning. In parallel, an abundance of beginner DJ instructional websites and videos have initiated the democratization of a skill that was once self-taught or learned through apprenticeship. However, although females constitute a large majority of students at DJ academies, the majority of "bedroom DJs" (named for the typical location of their informal studios and practice spaces) are demonstrably male, especially in Web 2.0 environments such as YouTube.

The process of professionalization in the musical world has been historically been gender-biased towards males by promoting a private-public dichotomy and a novice-amateur-profession progression. Similarly, bedroom DJing will be theorized as consolidating idealized notions of gender and adult identity by when espousing the rhetoric of advancing from bedroom DJ to club or mobile DJ status. However, I also posit that the private "bedroom" is not inherently gendered but rather has been reinscribed as a transitional space in which male adolescents explore masculine identity through involvement in online communities, such as those found in Youtube.com and DJTutor.com.

Furthermore, the paucity of female DJ's working in a professional capacity has been attributed to several factors including implicit discrimination, the gendered nature of technology, and aversion to competition. I consider the relevance of these factors to the context of Web 2.0 while exploring the online bedroom DJ community and learning resources, specifically the instructional videos of Youtube phenomenon, ellaskins. Through virtual ethnographic research on Youtube.com and personal interviews with amateur DJ's, I will outline the ways in which bedroom DJ's express masculinity while self-identifying as hobbyists, amateurs, pre-professionals, and competitors.

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