Research Output
(Dis)locating Democratisation: Grime, Digitalisation, and 'The PlayStation Generation'
  For many commentators over the last two decades, digitisation represents nothing short of a watershed moment in how music is produced, stored, and consumed. In this paper, I address claims around the democratisation of music making with the advent of virtual studio technologies, digital audio workstations, and mobile apps. Focusing on the genre of grime, I argue that the availability of software like Music 2000 and GarageBand have been instrumental in opening up music making with digital, computer-based, and DAW-type technologies to wider communities, such as impoverished neighbourhoods in East London. They therefore hint at a more inclusive mode of cultural production and a collapse of boundaries between amateur and professional. But, when one accounts for residual inequalities, particularly those related to race, class, and gender, discourses of democratisation still have to be tempered. I therefore strike a cautionary note and call for a precise and critical analysis that asks detailed questions about who is participating in the cultures of music making, how, and under what socio-economic conditions. I finish with a call to move beyond the term democratisation in its normativeand idealised sense to an application that is situated, concrete, and specific to the field of popular music.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    05 May 2021

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Harkins, P. (2021, May). (Dis)locating Democratisation: Grime, Digitalisation, and 'The PlayStation Generation'. Paper presented at Annual Symposium of Music Scholars in Finland, Online


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