Ethnography From the Inside: Industry-based Research in the Commercial Sydney EDM Scene


  • Ed Montano RMIT University


DJs, ethnography, Sydney, insider research, participant observation


Drawing on a decade of ethnographic research and participant observation in the Sydney commercial electronic dance music (EDM) scene, this article explores some of the issues and tensions in conducting industry-based fieldwork in EDM culture. Through interviews with some of the scene’s key DJs, promoters, media workers and other industry personnel, consideration is given to designing a set of guiding principles for researchers undertaking “behind-the-scenes”, localised EDM research. The starting point for my discussion is my work in dance music retail, specifically at Central Station Records between 2002 and 2005. The level of access this work granted me to particular industry workers and the subsequent networks I was able to establish proved invaluable to my research not only when seeking out interviewees but also when seeking entry to clubs and events. However, while insider knowledge has numerous benefits, convincing contacts of the relevance of research can be problematic, as can maintaining a critical distance.

Author Biography

Ed Montano, RMIT University

School of Media and CommunicationBuilding 9, level 4 receptionRMIT UniversityMelbourneVIC 3001Australia