Bedrooms and DJs: Spaces and Identities

Katharine Joo


This paper serves as a cursory exploration into the ways that bedroom DJs (so named for the typical location of their informal studios and practice spaces) are using recently developed technological and online resources to master what was once an enigmatic skill. I will first define the online Web 2.0 environment in which I examine bedroom DJing and then describe the impact of the instructional videos of Youtube phenomenon, ellaskins. By examining the demographic actively participating in the community created by these videos, I will then demonstrate how bedroom DJs both correspond to and diverge from the sociological definitions of amateur, as characterized by Richard Stebbins. Although the process of professionalization in the musical world, typically defined through a novice-amateur-profession progression, can be kept intact, the boundaries between these groupings and relationships are more unclear in an online context where the private-public dichotomy no longer upholds. Furthermore, 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, the abundance DJ instructional websites and videos have initiated the democratization and mainstream-ization of a skill that was once self-taught or learned through apprenticeship. These developments are appropriating the subcultural values of DJing and augmenting the ways youth can approach the process of identity formation in the postmodern age. Lastly, I consider why females are underrepresented online within the bedroom DJ demographic although they constitute a large majority of students at DJ academies. By drawing upon various media and sociological concepts as well as responses solicited through email and the Skratchlounge message board, I consider the ways in which bedroom DJ's that use online resources such as YouTube reveal themselves as amateurs, consumers, and individuals exploring transitional identities.

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