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Music camp: experiential consumption in a guitar workshop setting

Seth R. Ellis (Associate Professor of Marketing at the School of Business Administration, University of San Diego, California, USA)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




This paper and video aim to present findings of an investigation into the consumption of weeklong music camps for adults.


Video‐ethnography is an emerging research technique in marketing academe. The technique derives from the ethnographic tradition in anthropology and incorporates a blend of participant observer and thick description interview techniques. The video evidence does not replace field notes. Rather the video evidence contributes strongly to an edited deliverable that complements and in some instances substitutes for a traditional manuscript.


Participants spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars purchasing a week of music classes, concerts and jam sessions located in campus‐like venues, often rural and remote and without many of the comforts of home. Three strong themes emerged from the observations and interviews. Consumer immersion in a musical enclave for a week to develop their musicianship is the first theme. The second theme intertwines the third: a sense of the liminoid in which a personal transition or transformation occurs; and the emergence of communitas, in which community ties strengthen as a consequence of experiencing these transitions within a group.

Practical implications

The video ethnography is remarkable because music camp organizers forbid filming. Indeed, for the first time in the history of this music camp (of 16 years standing at the time of the research), filming occurred in the camp. After a while, the presence of the researcher videographer appeared to go unnoticed by participants, arguably becoming an integral part of the music camp experience.


Little research has been done about the consumption of music camps. This written and audio‐visual ethnography addresses this gap in knowledge.



Ellis, S.R. (2011), "Music camp: experiential consumption in a guitar workshop setting", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 376-382.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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