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Underground Renaissance

A project that seeks to revitalize and preserve the underground electronic music scene.

MA 22/23
Underground, Values, Dancefloor, Community, Music, Commercialisation

This project seeks to revitalise and preserve the underground electronic music scene by addressing several complex challenges that exist today. Through extensive primary and secondary research, we have identified the underlying and most prevalent issues that stakeholders are facing. Furthermore, the accelerated evolution of the scene into a increasingly commercial multi-billion-dollar industry has caused a deterioration of the implicit foundational values upon which the scene was created. As the scene grows and evolves, so do these core values. Therefore, based on these values, our project design principles prioritise community over profit, enable artistic development within local communities, ensure inclusivity and accessibility, promote diversity and social progress, strive to make transformations that will have a real impact, and seek cultural innovation by pushing boundaries.


In order to gather relevant insights, we started by assigning the main stakeholder groups of the scene among ourselves to carry out several interviews simultaneously. By doing this, we were able to cross-check repetitive themes and challenges that later helped us focus our direction. We had the opportunity to talk to different types of clubbers, upcoming artists, world-renowned headliner DJs and producers, upcoming promoters, and event organisers from different parts of the world, including the U.K., Australia, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina. Additionally, to leverage our interdisciplinary skills, we communicated our strengths and interests to delegate the most appropriate roles within the project's goals.

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What is the Underground electronic music scene?

Underground electronic music emerged in the late 20th century specifically in New York, Detroit and Chicago in the United States. Mainly, this is a scene that identifies a vibrant subculture and movement centered around electronic music genres such as techno, house, drum and bass, jungle, and more. One of the key characteristics of the underground scene is its emphasis on artistic experimentation. It serves as a breeding ground for pushing boundaries, exploring new sounds, and challenging conventional norms in music production and performance. The DIY ethos is deeply ingrained in the underground scene, with artists, promoters, and enthusiasts actively participating in organizing events, creating their own record labels, and cultivating an ecosystem that fosters creativity and self-expression.

Unlike larger commercial venues, the underground scene thrives in smaller, intimate spaces, allowing for a closer connection between artists and the audience. It is a scene renowned for its sense of community, where attendees share a passion for the music and a collective identity. This fosters a supportive and inclusive environment where like-minded individuals can connect and celebrate their shared love for electronic music.


1. Small clubs are closing, limiting the number of safe spaces for marginalised communities.

This is driven by reduced demand, as clubbers prioritise saving for big headliner events held in larger venues in major cities. Smaller venues often serve as spaces for self-expression, innovation and experimentation. Especially for marginalised communities. Today, ticket prices are higher, there are less diverse crowd in the dance floor, and clubbing experiences are becoming more homogenous.

In summary, club culture is becoming less affordable and less diverse.

2. Underground scene community is fragmented into homogenous 

bubbles or sub-scenes

Sub-scenes have emerged, each with their own priorities and interpretations of the original values. 

Some cling to the authentic spirit of the scene, valuing artistry and community over profits, while others embrace the commercial potential and pursued financial gain. Often competition is for authenticity is heavy, the dilemma between inclusivity and exclusivity creates tension in venues, and some subcultures start creating more radical interpretations of the foundational values.

As a result, club culture is becoming less inclusive and less collaborative.

3. New-coming clubbers have different motivations.

The clubbing atmosphere has changed due to the influx of newcomers who often have different expectations & motivations:

  • Illegal drug abuse
  • Creating social media content
  • Trend followers (sheep behaviour)
  • Watching the "must-see" headliner

In clubs we see more & more negative behaviours that neglect some of the vital foundational values like mutual respect, authenticity & free self-expression.

As a result, the clubbing community is becoming less aware of the social contract.

4. Being authentic has become more challenging for upcoming artists in a saturated market

The commercialisation of the scene has led to a high demand for headliner DJs, resulting in the saturation of a market where upcoming DJs struggle to find visibility.

Artists often play and produce according to the crowds expectations instead of innovating & experimenting with new sounds. They are getting “lost” in an increasingly saturated market where networking is more important than raw talent. As a result, visible artists are creating more of the same music.

This challenge is causing the musical offer to be less innovative & less authentic.

problem & mission statements

The Problem: The scene has evolved into a profit-centred industry that often neglects the foundational values. Clubber & promoter motivations are causing the scene to fade into a fragmented community, hampering innovation, inclusion & affordability.

Our Mission: How might we reclaim the foundational values and identity of the underground club experience, by creating an ecosystem that uplifts and empowers key stakeholders impacted by the commercialization of the scene?

strategy & objectives

  1. Increase value awareness in clubbers & members of the scene with;
  2. Bold branding and concept design,
  3. Purposeful curation of events & mentoring for promoters.
  4. Empower upcoming artists & promoters by;
  5. Develop a platform powered by community support to strengthen community engagement,
  6. Collaborative funding for events to support financial sustainability.
  7. Promote new spaces for musical innovation;
  8. To enable creativity and experimentation,
  9. Foster DIY culture by offering resources & contacts to support grassroots efforts.
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