Paul G. Oliver (University of West London, UK) Xiaoling Wu (University of the Highlands & Islands, UK)


Do-it-yourself (DIY) is a well-known ethic based on self-reliance and exceeding one’s own
expectations of what can be achieved with the tools available (Baker and Nelson, 2005). The DIY artist takes this definition further by using the tools at-hand, both physical and digital, to help sustain their creative practice (Oliver, 2010).

Over the last five years, the global recorded music industry’s annual revenues have continued to grow from $14.2bn to $19.1bn (Music Ally, 2019). This is mainly due to the innovative development and adoption of mobile technologies by artists and entrepreneurs of varying skills, experience and ethics (Guerra, 2018) who now have more opportunities, as well as challenges, to create their own content and interact with a potential audience through the use of specialised features within social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok (de Klerk, 2015).

From an entrepreneurial bricolage perspective this presents several advantages to the DIY artist, for example, as they can now completely manage their creative output by releasing music independently on streaming services without the support of a record label and then finding innovative ways to attract attention on social media (Bennett, 2018; Haenfler, 2018). However, this also presents new challenges: to constantly create new and engaging content; to organically develop as an artist; to generate a sustainable income; whilst, at the same time, protecting one’s mental and physical health (Snapes, 2018).

This paper explores these issues by adopting a qualitative research approach, consisting of 10 semi-structured interviews, which is conducted via Skype using only London-based DIY artists, and analysed using a thematic analysis. The overall aim of this research is to identify and better understand the challenges that DIY artists face, working within the music industry, and how they use social media in order to sustain and develop their creative practice independently.

Entrepreneurial Bricolage, DIY Culture, Sustainability, Music Industry, Social Media

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