Fringe to Famous: Indie and Mainstream Cultural Production in Australia

Fringe to Famous: Indie and Mainstream Cultural Production in Australia

Fringe to Famous critically re-examines the relations between "independent" and "mainstream" cultural production at a time when the very meaning and relevance of those terms is being widely debated. In recent decades, critically-aware artists and their entrepreneurial business partners have engaged in a playful negotiation of marginal and mainstream tastes, harnessing the values associated with the creative underground transgression, independence, authenticity for both aesthetic and commercial ends. At the same time, crises in the business models of commercial media industries and the proliferation of online distribution have made "mainstream" increasingly difficult to define. Even as the material and structural distinctions between the fields of production are made ever more ambiguous, scholarly analysis on the topic has become hostage to a sharply polarized debate: on one side, the idea of the "creative industries" and the framing of culture as economic resource, and on the other, a more traditional cultural critique that sees commercial interests as always coming at the expense of art. Little heard or represented in these debates are today's self-managed creatives independent in ethos but business-savvy in practice, taking risk and experimentation to popular markets. Drawing on dozens of original interviews and close analysis of Australian examples sampled from across forty years of "indie" music, comedy, film, computer games, and graphic design, Fringe to Famous explores how some of Australia's leading cultural practitioners negotiate their position between the margins and the mainstream in the contemporary period.
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