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How do consumers contribute to the development and continuity of an indie market?


Hwanho Choi (Barun ICT Research Center, Yonsei University)

Bernard Burnes (Stirling Management School, University of  Stirling, Stirling, UK)


This article examines the “indie” music industry in South Korea. It describes a consumer-led market where network of consumers aided by social media take responsibility for its maintenance and development, specifically the market for indie music in South Korea. With the emergence of digital technology and a participatory culture, the roles of consumers have expanded. Through their commitment and passion for independent music, aided by social media, these consumers have developed a virtual indie music community, which uses a variety of mechanisms, such as producing podcasts, to promote its music. These non-traditional producers regard indie music as an important part of their lives and their existence, which is why they take responsibility for developing the indie community rather than leaving this to a profit-orientated music industry. Therefore, we demonstrate how in South Korea the production of indie music has ceased to be dominated by traditional actors, such as record labels, and is driven by the enthusiasm of music fans. Previous research on cultural markets suggests that consumers play critical roles in the formation and evolution of the market. This study sheds light on this process by depicting a cultural market that is governed by pro-social consumers (rather than anti-market resistance) who pursue a balanced approach between resistance to and negotiated harmony with commercial and social norms rather than drawing a simple boundary between “us” and “other”.

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