La professionalizzazione dell’industria musicale araba indipendente: contro il paradigma della music of resistance


  • Fernanda Fischione Sapienza University of Rome



Arab pop music, protest music, Arab record industry, music of resistance, independent music professionalisation


This article aims to shed light on two aspects concerning the independent Arab record industry in the last ten years: on the one hand, the decline of the academic paradigm of music of resistance; on the other hand, the growing role played by a politics and a poetics of professionalism, embraced by all the categories operating in the music industry. The article reviews the most recent studies that have tried to deconstruct the paradigm of resistance as a predominant interpretative framework. It also recaps the century-old history of the recording industry in the Arab world, which has undergone radical material and symbolic transformations, taking part in the cultural and economic history of the region. Finally, the article tackles the issue of the professionalization of the independent Arab music industry, which musicians and workers of the music industry often see as an antidote to the obsolete rhetoric of resistance, and through which they seek to build a new notion of agency.


“El Rass. Il rap arabo contemporaneo. Intervista di Fernanda Fischione.” Poesia del nostro tempo, 19 dicembre 2017, [ultimo accesso 13/10/2022].

“Shabjdeed, Interview - شب جديد | المقابلة”, YouTube. [ultimo accesso 13/10/2022].

Abadir, Rami. 2022. “Weekend’s thoughts.” Facebook, 17/09/2022, [ultimo accesso 16/10/2022].

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1990. “The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women.” American Ethnologist 17(1), 41–55.

Al Wassimi, Mounir. 2010. “Arab Music and Change in the Arab Media.” In Michael Frishkopf (ed.), Music and Media in the Arab World, 91–96. Cairo & New York: The American University in Cairo Press.

Allami, Khyam. 2010. “Dispatches from a New Generation.” Index on Censorship 39(3), 82–95.

Bartmański, Dominik & Ian Woodward. 2020. Labels: Making Independent Music. London: Bloomsbury.

Beer, David. 2009. “Can You Dig It?: Some Reflections on the Sociological Problems Associated with Being Uncool.” Sociology 43(6). 1151-1162.

Bendix, Regina. 1997. In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

D’Amato, Francesco. 2019. “Digital Platforms and the Professionalization of DIY in the Popular Music Field. The Experiences of Long-Time Independent Musicians.” In Paula Guerra & Thiago Pereira Alberto (eds.), Keep it Simple, Make it Fast! An Approach to Underground Music Scenes (vol. 4),136–149. Porto: Universidade do Porto.

Eka3/Mostakell. 2022. “We’re closed for business...” Facebook, 17/06/2022. [ultimo accesso 16/10/2022].

El Zein, Rayya. 2017. “Resisting ‘Resistance’: On Political Feeling in Arabic Rap Concerts.” In Tarik Sabry & Layal Ftouni (eds.), Arab Subcultures: Transformations in Theory and Practice, 87–112. London & New York: I.B. Tauris.

El-Shawan, Salwa. 1980. “The Socio-Political Context of al-mūsīḳa al-ʿarabiyyah in Cairo, Egypt: Policies, Patronage, Institutions, and Musical Change (1927-77).” Asian Music 12(1), 86–128.

El-Shawan Castelo-Branco, Salwa. 1987. “Some Aspects of the Cassette Industry in Egypt.” The World of Music 29(2), 32–48.

Faber, Tom. 2019. “‘If Israeli soldiers start shooting, we won’t stop the interview’: Palestinian hip-hop crew BLTNM.” The Guardian, 19 August 2019, [ultimo accesso 13/10/2022].

Fischione, Fernanda. 2015. La riappropriazione del linguaggio poetico nel rap del Levante arabo. Una proposta di analisi testuale. Roma: Sapienza Università di Roma. (Tesi di laurea magistrale).

Fischione, Fernanda. 2019. “Irony, Black Humour, Sarcasm and Cynicism in Contemporary Arabic Rap. A Text-based Analysis.” In Stephan Guth & Teresa Pepe (eds.), Upholding Humanity in an Unhuman World: Arab Writing after the “Arab Spring”, 355–378. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Fischione, Fernanda. 2020. “Cantare la rivoluzione. Musica e parole da un mondo arabo che cambia.” In Chiara Comito & Silvia Moresi (a cura di), Arabpop. Arte e letteratura in rivolta dai Paesi arabi, 57–84. Milano: Mimesis.

France, Pierre. 2018. “Les nouvelles plumes musicales du journalisme arabe.” Vacarme 3(84), 115–120.

Frishkopf, Michael. 2008. “Nationalism, Nationalization, and the Egyptian Music Industry: Muhammad Fawzy, Misrphon, and Sawt al-Qahira (SonoCairo).” Asian Music 39(2), 28–58.

Green, Andrew. 2022. “Beyond the Crew: Hip-Hop and Professionalization in Mexico City.” Cultural Sociology 16(1), 25–44.

Gronow, Pekka. 1981. “The Record Industry Comes to the Orient.” Ethnomusicology 25(2), 251–284.

Houissa, Ali. 2014. “Copyright Laws in the Arab World: A Shifting Predicament in the Digital Era.” Libri 64(3), 293-306.

Hracs, Brian. 2012. “A Creative Industry in Transition: The Rise of Digitally Driven Independent Music Production.” Growth and Change: A Journal of Urban and Regional Policy 43(3), 442-461.

Huggan, Graham. 2001. The Poscolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. London and New York: Routledge.

Khalil, Joe F. & Mohamed Zayani. 2022. “Digitality and Music Streaming in the Middle East: Anghami and the Burgeoning Startup Culture.” International Journal of Communication 16, 1532–1550.

Kraidy, Marwan M. 2016. “Revolutionary Creative Labor”. In Michael Curtin & Kevin Sanson (eds.), Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor, 231–240. Oakland: University of California Press.

Kraidy, Marwan M. & Marina R. Krikorian. 2017. “The Revolutionary Public Sphere: The Case of the Arab Uprisings.” Communication and the Public 2(2), 111–119.

Krims, Adam. 2000. Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Laing, Dave. 2003. “Resistance and Protest.”. In John Shepherd, David Horn, Dave Laing, Paul Oliver, & Peter Wicke (eds.), Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Vol. 1: Media, Industry and Society, 345. London and New York: Continuum.

Moreno Almeida, Cristina. 2017. Rap Beyond Resistance: Staging Power in Contemporary Morocco. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Nickell, Chris. 2019. “Promises and Pitfalls: The Two-Faced Nature of Streaming and Social Media Platforms for Beirut-Based Independent Musicians.” Popular Communication 18(1), 48–64.

Nooshin, Laudan. 2017. “Whose Liberation? Iranian Popular Music and the Fetishisation of Resistance.” Popular Communication 15(3), 163–191.

Peterson, Richard A. 1997. Creating Country Music: Fabricating Authenticity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Puig, Nicolas. 2020. “The Shatila Soundscape: Sound Cultures, Practices, and Perceptions in a Refugee Camp in Lebanon.” Violence: An International Journal 1(2), 1–18.

Racy, Ali Jihad. 1976. “Record Industry and Egyptian Traditional Music: 1904-1932.” Ethnomusicology 20(1), 23–48.

Racy, Ali Jihad. 1978. “Arabian Music and the Effects of Commercial Recording.” The World of Music 20(1), 47-58.

Simon, Andrew. 2022. Media of the Masses: Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Sprengel, Darcy. 2020. “Neoliberal Expansion and Aesthetic Innovation: The Egyptian Independent Music Scene Ten Years After.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 52(3), 545–551.

Swedenburg, Ted. 2013. “Palestinian Rap: Against the Struggle Paradigm”. In Walid El Hamamsy & Mounira Soliman (eds.), Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook, 17–32. New York & London: Routledge.

Withers, Polly. 2017. “Performing Palestine, or Mandating Britain? Tracing Palestinian Musics in London.” Paper presentato alla BRISMES Conference 2017 – Movement and Migration in the Middle East: People and Ideas in Flux. 5-7 July 2017, University of Edinburgh.

Withers, Polly. 2021. “Ramallah Ravers and Haifa Hipsters: Gender, Class, and Nation in Palestinian Popular Culture.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 48(1), 94–113.



How to Cite

Fischione, F. (2022). La professionalizzazione dell’industria musicale araba indipendente: contro il paradigma della music of resistance. DIVE-IN – An International Journal on Diversity and Inclusion, 2(2), 5–24.