This paper discusses the dynamic cultural economy of British drum and bass (D&B) music, which emerged out of Britain's rave culture in the early 1990s. We suggest that D&B offers insight into more general issues regarding the relation between alternative cultural economies and capitalism. We examine relations between D&B and the mainstream capitalist economy and argue that D&B calls attention to the possibility for alternatives to conventional capitalist relations to survive and possibly thrive without pursuing separation from capitalism. We also theorize D&B as a vehicle towards empowerment regarding the industry segment vis-a-vis the mainstream music industry and also regarding D&B's practitioners, many of whom can be understood as marginalized discursively and/or materially. However, D&B empowerment is fragile, due in part to technological changes that threaten practices that have helped cultivate innovativeness as well as communal relations. The empowerment of alternative practices is fragile not only for D&B as an industry segment, but also from the vantage point of internal power relations - notably with respect to differences along axes of gender and generation/age. Our conclusions indicate the broader significance of the paper for critical social theory and propose how new research might build on our dynamic view of D&B's cultural economy. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.