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Scratching Out Authorship: Representations of the Electronic Music DJ at the Turn of the 21st Century

Popular Communication, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 21-38, 2006

18 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2006  

Bill D. Herman

Communication and Media Management, Gabelli School of Business

Abstract

This article argues that the DJ is represented by the electronic music industry as the creative author of his or her music. I examine commercial discourse aimed at the consumer of DJ-mixed music, such as rave flyers and electronic music CDs, as well as discourse aimed at the DJ-consumer, such as trade magazines and gear catalogues. In all of this discourse, the DJ is presented as the culmination of creative musical technology, a musical author-god who carries on a long tradition of patriarchal authorship. In light of these observations, I argue that the DJ's authorship comes not from what he or she does but how those practices get represented in a capitalist system. Further, I argue that the industry instilled the DJ with authorship to fill a vacuum left by the increasing anonymity of dance music producers. The DJ becomes a tool for generating social capital within a music scene, and this social capital is turned into monetary capital via the sale of DJ-related commodities.

Keywords: disc jockey, DJ, rave, authorship, electonic music, discourse analysis

Suggested Citation

Herman, Bill D., Scratching Out Authorship: Representations of the Electronic Music DJ at the Turn of the 21st Century. Popular Communication, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 21-38, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=881131

Bill Herman (Contact Author)

Communication and Media Management, Gabelli School of Business ( email )

113 West 60th Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
347-987-1538 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://billyherman.com

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