First Advisor

Greg Schrock

Term of Graduation

Winter 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban Studies (M.U.S.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Electronic music -- Oregon -- Portland, Subculture -- Oregon -- Portland



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 78 pages)


Music is relatively understudied as a geographic phenomenon, but recently there has been a shift in academic literature to understand the social, cultural and economic factors that determine music and its development in specific places. The purpose of this study is to examine the Electronic Hardware Music Subculture (EHMS) in Portland, why it thrives, and how it is linked to the local cultural economy. To do this, I used semi-structured, long form interviews with key members of the EHMS. These interviews, and my own observations, gave insight into what factors affect the success of members of the EHMS, and how the subculture thrives more generally. Key factors that dictate success for members of the EHMS include: the ability to pursue art for non-commercial reasons, community openness and receptivity to new music, availability of spaces to perform and practice, and the number of institutions that allow for effective development of musical-cultural production. My findings demonstrate that Portland is a unique city in the United States for niche cultural production, as it offers relative affordability, institutional and technological capacity, and cultural consumers that are open to a range of cultural products. My findings suggest that for under researched areas of cultural production in urban areas, access to key cultural producers and institutions is necessary to understand cultural production. For planners, policies that emphasize bolstering institutional capacity, and making urban areas livable for artists and musicians can catalyze nascent cultural economies.


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