Graduate Program

Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

David Gracon

Thesis Committee Member

Marita Gronnvoll

Thesis Committee Member

Scott M. Walus


This study of Pygmalion Music Festival utilizes a theoretical framework of alternative media theory to analyze the festival's position in independent and corporate music festival and concert production. Pygmalion Music Festival is a mid-sized independently owned and operated music festival held annually in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. This research investigates the progression of independent ( or "indie") music culture, how the industry has gradually become co-opted by the corporate music industry, and how Pygmalion Music Festival is situated within the indie/corporate binary. This binary is not black and white, rather an intersection that creates a blurred area between the two. "Indie" artists and the independent music festival scene have become increasingly assimilated according to the demands of investors and profiteers within our capitalist system. An independent or "indie" artist in music has traditionally been known as the artist's separation from a major record label. By using alternative media theory as a theoretical framework to analyze Pygmalion, it illuminates how blurred the term "indie" has become in relation its corporate counterpart. The festival provides a case study that stands outside the corporate-owned music festival and concert production monopoly, yet is dependent upon funding via sponsorship, ticket sales, and the use of inexpensive temporary labor. This research also provides an analysis of indie music culture and the perpetuation of class position and privilege, how indie culture has become increasingly commodified by the capitalist system, and how a festival of this size can also resist cooption by the corporate industry. Analyzing Pygmalion provides insight into the current state of the music industry, contributing a nuanced viewpoint of the progression of indie, the intersection of the indie and corporate culture, and how alternative media theory both problematizes and supports the practices of Pygmalion Music Festival simultaneously.