Music Music in the Digital World
by
William Gibbons, Paula Harper
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 November 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0299

Introduction

Digital technologies have impacted and reshaped almost every aspect of 21st-century life, from communication and commerce, to work and leisure, to education and politics. This bibliography represents a collection of scholarship that seeks to detail how varied and ubiquitous digital technologies have reshaped music, and how music has in turn shaped the digital world. Since the first years of the 21st century, widespread access to digital technologies, including social media, smartphones, and Web 2.0 have fundamentally transformed musical aesthetics, creation, performance, consumption, and reception on a global scale. As of October 2020, there are around 4.66 billion active internet users around the globe, nearly all of whom interact with music in one way or another. This bibliography addresses how this “digital world” is implicated in 21st-century digital regimes, and in the global flows and local assemblages of music’s production, circulation, and consumption. Like the technologies themselves, scholarship on music in the digital world is a rapidly shifting field. Readers are encouraged to understand this bibliography as a fluid network of related topics, with substantial thematic overlap between sections. Except when a subject touches on topics unique to this bibliography, the authors have omitted topics covered extensively in other Oxford Bibliographies, including “Film Music,” “Video Game Music,” “Electronic and Computer Music Instruments,” and “Music Technology.”

General Overviews

Although they vary significantly in methodologies and perspectives, the sources in this category each attempt to offer a large-scale perspective on the impact of digital technologies on sound, music, and culture. Given the highly time-sensitive and multifaceted nature of the digital world, most of the research is the result of loosely organized edited collections, with a few monographs dedicated to specific subjects. Ayers 2006 offers an early set of perspectives on the digital revolution in music, laying the groundwork for later studies to follow. Nowak and Whelan 2016 and Purcell and Randall 2016 bring interdisciplinary methodologies to the study of digital music’s cultural impact. Miller 2012 and Whiteley and Rambarran 2016 explore the performance and consumption of music in virtual spaces. Lingold, et al. 2018 and Strachan 2017 each focus on the technologies underlying digital music production and consumption. Cook, et al. 2019 offers a thorough and up-to-date broad overview of major topics, and provides a useful starting point for research.

  • Ayers, Michael D., ed. Cybersounds: Essays on Virtual Music Culture. New York: Peter Lang, 2006.

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    A valuable early contribution to the study of music’s circulation and consumption online. Chapters cover a wide and interlocking range of topics, including examinations of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks from legal and anthropological perspectives, ethnographic analyses of online music communities, studies of musical entrepreneurship and self-promotion in digital spaces, and analyses of digital musical collaborations and online-exclusive releases.

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  • Cook, Nicholas, Monique M. Ingalls, and David Trippett, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Music in Digital Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

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    Combines academic music scholarship and shorter “personal takes” from industry experts to offer perspectives on a wide range of topics related to music in the digital world, including identity, liveness, globalization, virtuality, and economics. A highly useful introduction that intersects with most other sections of this bibliography.

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  • Lingold, Mary Caton, Darren Mueller, and Whitney Trettien, eds. Digital Sound Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

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    This collection addresses digital technologies and content from the (inter)disciplinary perspective of sound studies, analyzing a broad collection of musical and sonic phenomena. Particularly useful in this collection are the multiple methodological reflections around digital tools and publications for the study of musical and sonic content, such as the chapters on “Sounding Out!” and “Outkasted Conversations.”

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  • Miller, Kiri. Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753451.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Taking a primarily ethnomusicological perspective, this source traces the impact of virtual music spaces on music performance and identity. Major themes include representations of identity and race in Grand Theft Auto, YouTube as a tool for music pedagogy, and music-based games like Guitar Hero as a vehicle for musical creativity and fan communities. See also Digital Platforms and Liveness and Virtuality.

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  • Nowak, Raphaël, and Andrew Whelan, eds. Networked Music Cultures: Contemporary Approaches, Emerging Issues. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

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    Predominantly sociological in nature, this collection of essays focuses on the consumption and circulation patterns of digital popular music. Notably, several chapters address topics outside the United States and Western Europe. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Purcell, Richard, and Richard Randall, eds. 21st Century Perspectives on Music, Technology, and Culture: Listening Spaces. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

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    Interdisciplinary volume that explores in particular the impact of digital music consumption practices on both individual listeners and on culture more broadly. Particular themes include ethics of listening, music and place, and digital platforms. See also Globalization and Place, Digital Platforms, and Ethical Considerations.

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  • Strachan, Robert. Sonic Technologies: Popular Music, Digital Culture and the Creative Process. London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

    DOI: 10.5040/9781501310652Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Readable overview of the impact of digital technologies on the creation and consumption of popular music. Major topics include democratization of music production, shifting meanings of “creativity,” and digital aesthetics. See also Digital Music Making.

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  • Whiteley, Sheila, and Shara Rambarran, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

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    Wide-ranging volume with chapters addressing many aspects of “virtual” music creation and consumption, broadly defined. Major themes include music performance in virtual spaces, digital music stars and virtual bands, online music communities, and digital fundraising models. Highly useful as an introductory text. See also Liveness and Virtuality and Economics and Labor.

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Mobility and Materiality

The mobility of many digital technologies enables new modes of listening and new networks of engagement between individuals, objects, and the social world. The works in this section theorize the impact that various mobile formats, devices, and materials have on the circulation and consumption of music. Gopinath and Stanyek 2014 offers an introduction to a wide variety of topics related to mobility broadly speaking. Bull 2007, Sterne 2012, and Gopinath 2013 each offer an in-depth study of the impact of a particular technology (Apple’s iPod, the MP3 file format, and cell-phone ringtones, respectively) on the mobility of digital music, predominantly from a cultural perspective. Devine 2019, by contrast, explores the impact of the physical materiality of digital music (e.g., plastic, shellac) on global ecology. Mjos 2013 and Steingo 2015 adopt ethnomusicological frameworks to explore mobility as a specifically (trans)global phenomenon, while Kassabian 2013 takes an introspective turn by suggesting the subjective impact of omnipresence of music enabled by digital technologies.

  • Bull, Michael. Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience. London: Routledge, 2007.

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    A foundational work in studies of music and mobility, this source neatly captures the centrality of the Apple iPod mobile listening device in early-21st-century music consumption practices and aesthetics. A major focus throughout is on the role of the iPod in shaping contemporary urban life in and out of the workplace.

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  • Devine, Kyle. Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/10692.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Applies an important ecological lens to the study of music in the digital age, focusing on the materiality of musical media as a component of the historical and present-day music industries. Divided into explorations of three periodizing materials: shellac, plastic, and digital. Undertakes in-depth investigations of how various constitutive components of these media materials are produced and sourced, and the broader implications thereof in terms of labor, pollution and ecological impact, supply chains and geopolitical flows, etc.

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  • Gopinath, Sumanth. The Ringtone Dialectic: Economy and Cultural Form. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019156.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Detailed, highly readable case study of the customizable cell-phone ringtone fad that persisted from the late 1990s to the late 2000s. Considers the rapid growth and decline of a multibillion-dollar digital market, as well as the impact of ringtones on music and media.

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  • Gopinath, Sumanth, and Jason Stanyek, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    Highly useful overview of music and mobility. While some chapters focus on pre-digital technologies (e.g., boom boxes, transistor radios), the majority of contributions deal with music and sound in mobile phones and digital media players. Notable themes include urban ecologies, global markets, and youth listening practices. See also Globalization and Place.

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  • Kassabian, Anahid. Ubiquitous Listening: Affect, Attention and Distributed Subjectivity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1525/9780520954861Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Drawing on the language of “ubiquitous computing,” projects new implications for the arrangement of space, time, and affect via music under a regime of ubiquitous digital media. Seeks to center everyday engagements with music and sound as research subjects, heavily incorporating theories of subjectivity. Chapter topics include music video and diaspora, film and television scoring, and corporate use of world music recordings.

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  • Mjos, Ole J. Music, Social Media and Global Mobility: MySpace, Facebook, YouTube. London: Routledge, 2013.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203127544Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Uses ethnographic work with musicians, DJs, producers, and managers, as well as platform analysis, to show how various social media platforms have enabled the global spread of music from geographically isolated scenes, and have encouraged musicians to engage with a global audience. Includes analysis of platforms such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Steingo, Gavin. “Sound and Circulation: Immobility and Obduracy in South African Electronic Music.” Ethnomusicology Forum 24.1 (2015): 102–123.

    DOI: 10.1080/17411912.2015.1020823Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presents a challenge to prevailing discourses of mobility and accessibility in studies of digital-era music through explication of particular sonic practices and technological realities confronting electronic musicians in Johannesburg, South Africa. Raises countervailing issues of immobility (as a response to the threat of theft) and technological failure/breakdown. See also Globalization and Place and Digital Music Making.

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  • Sterne, Jonathan. MP3: The Meaning of a Format. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822395522Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Analyzes the mp3 format from both an industrial and psychoacoustic perspective, articulating a long history of auditory media aspiring toward “portability” and revealing the construction of the hearing listener assumed by the format’s compression logics. Proposes the subfield of “format studies.”

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  • Witt, Stephen. How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy. New York: Viking, 2015.

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    Journalistic account of the development of the mp3 file format as a key moment in digital music in terms of technology, economics, and circulation. Highly readable.

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Circulations/Virality

The works in this section specifically consider aspects and implications of digital virality—the capacity for audiovisual content to be circulated and iteratively remixed with great speed and saturation via digital technologies. These works investigate musical aspects of digital viral circulation, as well as the viral circulation of musical objects and its implications. Harper 2019 provides a case study of a 2013 Beyoncé visual album, while Shelley 2020 and Soha and McDowell 2016 explore the phenomenon of viral musical memes.

Globalization and Place

In a few short decades, the internet has radically expanded both the possibilities and the speed of globalization. International or intercontinental music transmission, collaboration, or appropriation that might otherwise have taken months or years (if it happened at all) can now occur almost instantaneously. At the same time, however, the digital world is not a monoculture; communities around the world have developed unique responses to the opportunities and challenges of the digital era. The sources in this section approach these intersecting impulses towards globalization, on the one hand, and a sense of place, on the other. Williams 2001, Manabe 2016, Levine 2019, and Punathembekar and Mohan 2020 each explore the impact of digital globalization on music cultures in a particular location, ranging from a specific urban space to entire nations (Detroit, Japan, Cuba, and India, respectively). Other sources instead explore the impact of transcultural and transnational musical exchanges. Clayton 2016 offers an autobiographical look at life as a traveling digital musician, Gaskins 2019 explores creativity across the African diaspora, and Gibbons 2021 explores musical exchanges between Japan and North America in the context of video game localization.

  • Clayton, Jace. Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

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    Highly engaging reflections on the globalization of electronic music cultures from Jace Clayton (aka DJ/rupture), whose globe-spanning career as a DJ was launched by tracks posted on the internet. See also Digital Music Making.

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  • Gaskins, Nettrice. “Techno-vernacular Creativity and Innovation across the African Diaspora and Global South.” In Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life. Edited by Ruha Benjamin, 252–274. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.1215/9781478004493-015Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Introduces the concept of “techno-vernacular creativity” to theorize practices and creations by marginalized and under-represented groups that challenge constructed meanings in “dominant” technologies. Included is the case study of musician Onyx Ashanti’s “beatjazz,” a musical form accomplished by Ashanti’s proprietary 3D-printed instruments of body sonification.

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  • Gibbons, William. “Open Worlds: Globalization, Localization, and Video Game Music.” In The Cambridge Companion to Video Game Music. Edited by Melanie Fritsch and Tim Summers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

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    Focusing on the export of Japanese video games for North American audiences, this article proposes a three-part framework for analyzing the impact of localization practices, in which aspects of games are altered for regional markets, on video game music.

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  • Levine, Michael. “Everybody’s Going to the Rumba: Trap Latino and the Cuban Internet.” In Sounding Out! (blog), 14 January 2019.

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    An analysis of how genre is policed in the circulating files of Cuba’s el paquete semanal piratic content distribution network. See also Mobility and Materiality.

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  • Manabe, Noriko. “Streaming Music in Japan: Corporate Cultures as Determinants of Listening Practice.” In Networked Music Cultures: Contemporary Approaches, Emerging Issues. Edited by Raphaël Nowak and Andrew Whelan, 67–76. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-58290-4_5Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines how corporate strategies shaped the development of digital listening practices in Japan, illustrating how trends in other countries/cultures have differed from the development of digital platforms in the United States and Western Europe.

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  • Punathembekar, Aswin, and Sriram Mohan. “Sound Clouds: Listening and Citizenship in Indian Public Culture.” In Indian Sound Cultures, Indian Sound Citizenship. Edited by Laura Brueck, Jacob Smith, and Neil Verma, 19–43. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2020.

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    Suggests how mediated sound enables participation in and construction of “sonic citizenship” by individuals, journalists, and politicians via online spaces and circulation of content therein.

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  • Williams, Ben. “Black Secret Technology: Detroit Techno and the Information Age.” In Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. Edited by Alondra Nelson and Thuy Linh N. Tu, with Alicia Headlam Hines, 154–176. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

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    Situates Detroit techno as a predictive harbinger of late-20th-century digital culture. Argues, through close readings of a variety of musical texts, for both local and global/placeless hearings of them.

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Digital Platforms

In addition to physical devices, 21st-century digital software and platforms have enabled novel modes of distributing, listening to, and collecting around music. Works in this section analyze both platforms specifically designed around musical circulation and consumption (such as Spotify and other streaming services) as well as those that host music as part of a broader ecosystem of audiovisual content. Emergent themes include affect, sociality, and economics and labor. Suhr 2012; Johansson, et al. 2019; and Galloway, et al. 2020 each provide overviews of issues of culture and community in the context of digital platforms, with respective focuses on social media, listening practices, and labor. Eriksson, et al. 2019 and Siles, et al. 2019 both address the cultural impact of the streaming platform Spotify, whether through its social aspects (playlists) or its music recommendation algorithms. Goldschmitt and Seaver 2019 likewise considers the ramifications of algorithmic recommendation, though on a broader set of platforms. Hesmondhalgh, et al. 2019 explores SoundCloud and Bandcamp as artist-friendly alternatives to mainstream streaming platforms. Korsgaard 2017 focuses on genre, examining the creation and dissemination of music videos across a variety of digital platforms.

  • Eriksson, Maria, Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Pelle Snickars, and Patrick Vonderau. Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/10932.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Presented as a challenge to “platform studies,” this book investigates Spotify as a “mediator” in a Latourian sense. Reflexive methodology combines interviews with back-end “outsider” attempts to reverse engineer aspects of Spotify’s black-boxed algorithmic processes, and the qualitative and quantitative findings thereof. (Some of the reverse-engineering attempts, notably, were met with legal resistance by Spotify.) See also Ethical Considerations.

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  • Galloway, Kate, K. E. Goldschmitt, and Paula Harper, eds. Special Issue: Platforms, Labor, and Community in Online Listening. American Music 38.2 (Summer 2020).

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    The contributions to this special issue coalesce around shared questions of labor, listening, and platforms in 21st-century musical communities and experience. Topics and case studies under consideration include Spotify “fake artists” and fake listens via click-farming; how race, gender, and genre are discursively and algorithmically constructed on Spotify and YouTube; curatorial labor and clout in What.CD; performances of Taylor Swift’s fandom on YouTube; and remixes of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video.

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  • Goldschmitt, K. E., and Nick Seaver. “Shaping the Stream: Techniques and Troubles of Algorithmic Recommendation.” In The Cambridge Companion to Music in Digital Culture. Edited by Nicholas Cook, Monique M. Ingalls, and David Trippett, 63–81. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

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    Proposes consideration of contemporary recommendation systems as “ensembles” comprising both human and algorithmic components working together, and situates digital algorithmic recommendation systems in longer histories of music industry realities.

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  • Hesmondhalgh, David, Ellis Jones, and Andreas Rauh. “SoundCloud and Bandcamp as Alternative Music Platforms.” Social Media + Society 5.4 (2019).

    DOI: 10.1177/2056305119883429Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Platform study of the two titular “producer-oriented” platforms, using visual close readings and analyses of business models and protocols. Concludes that SoundCloud’s “bottom-up” presentation is constrained and challenged by its increasing adherence to music industry norms of copyright protection, while Bandcamp’s traditional marketplace structure is at odds with broader digital trends of “platformization” (largely, to musicians’ economic benefit).

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  • Johansson, Sofia Ann Werner, Patrik Åker, and Greg Goldenzwaig. Streaming Music: Practices, Media, Cultures. London: Routledge, 2019.

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    Communications studies and sociology-oriented study of the impact of streaming on listening practices, with case studies primarily in Moscow, Russia and Stockholm, Sweden. The first part of the book primarily explores issues of listening practices, while the second half is dedicated to individual digital platforms, including Spotify, YouTube, and VK (Russia). See also Mobility and Materiality.

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  • Korsgaard, Mathias Bonde. Music Video after MTV: Audiovisual Studies, New Media, and Popular Music. London: Routledge, 2017.

    DOI: 10.4324/9781315617565Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Useful study of postmillennial music videos, tracing the history, aesthetics, dissemination, and reception of the genre. Case studies range from mainstream YouTube releases to experimental media.

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  • Siles, Ignacio, Andrés Segura-Castillo, Mónica Sancho, and Ricardo Solís-Quesada. “Genres as Social Affect: Cultivating Moods and Emotions through Playlists on Spotify.” Social Media + Society 5.2 (2019): 1–11.

    DOI: 10.1177/2056305119847514Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Combining theoretical toolkits of media studies and affect studies, the authors frame playlists as “genres”—“material embodiments of cultivated affect” that promise connection and affiliation with others on the platform, with music as a utilitarian intermediary.

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  • Suhr, H. Cecilia. Social Media and Music: The Digital Field of Cultural Production. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

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    While dated, provides useful overviews and ethnographic data from musicians working across a variety of social media platforms, drawing heavily on Bourdieu’s theories of cultural production. Chapters address MySpace, YouTube, Second Life, and Indaba Music.

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YouTube

This subsection contains scholarship devoted to the YouTube platform—which, while not exclusively a music-hosting platform, is a significant site for 21st-century musical circulation, creativity, and community. Briain 2015 explores YouTube’s role in preserving identity among the global Hmong community. Other studies focus on the platform’s potential to “democratize” music creation and distribution. Hearsum and Inglis 2013 and Cayari 2017 examine YouTube as a vehicle for amateur production and performance, while Colburn 2015 interrogates the phenomenon of posters seeking cultural capital through distributing recordings of live concerts. Vernallis 2013 places the platform in the context of a broader discussion of contemporary digital media forms.

  • Briain, Lonán Ó. “Beyond the Digital Diaspora: YouTube Methodologies, Online Networking and the Hmong Music Festival.” Journal of World Popular Music 2.2 (2015): 289–306.

    DOI: 10.1558/jwpm.v2i2.26561Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Explores YouTube’s role as a nexus of cultural identity among the Hmong community, an ethnic group spread across multiple continents. In particular, digital networks are contrasted with the challenges of physical music festivals.

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  • Cayari, Christopher. “Music Making on YouTube.” In The Oxford Handbook of Music Making and Leisure. Edited by Roger Mantie and Gareth Dylan Smith, 467–488. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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    Study of YouTube as a venue for performances by amateur musicians, with a particular focus on “pro-ams” (professional amateurs) who achieve internet celebrity status through their music. Additional topics include the proliferation of “collective ensembles” such as virtual choirs.

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  • Colburn, Steven. “Filming Concerts for YouTube: Seeking Recognition in the Pursuit of Cultural Capital.” Popular Music and Society 38.1 (2015): 59–72.

    DOI: 10.1080/03007766.2014.974373Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Frames ethnography as a methodological intervention into preexisting YouTube scholarship; uses interview responses from YouTube “filmers” to analyze their motivations for filming and posting live concert footage, their expectations of audience, and the fan-hierarchical possibilities of such posting. See also Audiences and Fandoms and Liveness and Virtuality.

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  • Hearsum, Paula, and Ian Inglis. “The Emancipation of Music Video: YouTube and the Cultural Politics of Supply and Demand.” In The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis, 483–500. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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    Traces the history of YouTube as a site of rupture from traditional MTV-centric models of the music video, allowing for a democratization of video production outside corporate frames, as well as for a conflation of supply and demand for music video through YouTube’s participatory aspects.

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  • Vernallis, Carol. Unruly Media: YouTube, Music Video, and the New Digital Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766994.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Vernallis draws on film theorist David Bordwell’s notion of intensified continuity to theorize a 21st-century regime of “intensified audiovisual aesthetics” that, emerging from music video (Vernallis argues), extends to contemporary digital cinema and internet objects. Divided into sections covering each of these three media areas: YouTube (internet objects), Digital Cinema, and Music Video.

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Digital Music Making

While much scholarship on music in digital culture focuses on circulation and reception, works in this section analyze techniques and networks of musical production undertaken in digital spaces or using digital tools. Bell 2018 focuses on the impact of the digital audio workstation on music creation, while Jenik 2016 explores the potential for improvisation across large distances using high-speed internet. Austin 2016 and McAlpine 2019 both focus on the interactions of music making and video game technology, the former through the lens of music-based games (broadly speaking), and the latter through the use of game technology to create new music.

  • Austin, Michael, ed. Music Video Games: Performance, Politics, Play. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

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    The essays in this volume take a variety of perspectives on video games in which music is a major gameplay element, from pre–video era games like Simon, to the boom and bust of Guitar Hero in the 2000s, to more recent trends and music-based applications. Major themes include digital performance, games and creativity, and the potential for video games in music education.

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  • Bell, Adam Patrick. Dawn of the DAW: The Studio as Musical Instrument. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190296605.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Traces the historical development of the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and its impact on music creation. Special focus on the do-it-yourself (DIY) recording scene in Brooklyn, NY, as a case study, and on the blurring of lines between performer/producer and amateur/professional.

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  • Jenik, Adriene. “Bodies, Border, Technology: The Promise and Perils of Telematic Improvisation.” In The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Vol. 2. Edited by Benjamin Piekut and George E. Lewis, 469–484. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

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    Raises the possibility of improvisational music-making practices that take place at significant distance, through the use of various technologies. In particular, examines the potential for such improvisational practices to minimize geographic limitations and cultural restrictions, and thus transgress a range of “border lines.” See also Globalization and Place.

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  • McAlpine, Kenneth B. Bits and Pieces: A History of Chiptunes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

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    Details the history of chiptune, a style of music created using technology from early video games, from humble origins in the 1970s through to the development of major regional, national, and international communities today. Treats both the music itself (and the technology that produces it) as well as the music’s aesthetics and cultural functions.

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Remix and Sampling

This subsection addresses the manipulation and reconfiguration of preexisting musical material as a specific and significant form of digital music making. Although sampling as a practice had analog roots (especially in early hip-hop), the ease of digital manipulations has led to the rise of numerous musicians for whom digital borrowing, remix, mash-ups, and so on are the primary artistic medium. Miller 2008 and Lessig 2008 are foundational texts on remix, the former a collection of reflections from prominent practitioners and the latter a philosophical exploration of remix as a cultural practice. Katz 2010 provides a useful and accessible overview of ethical and aesthetic ramifications of digital sampling, while Gibbons 2016 and Gunkel 2016 both explore shifting understandings of artistic value in remixed settings. Laderman and Westrup 2014 and Shaviro 2017 take a multimedia approach, tracing the impact of remix beyond music and into video in particular.

  • Gibbons, William. “Remixed Metaphors: Manipulating Classical Music and Its Meanings in Video Games.” In Ludomusicology: Approaches to Video Game Music. Edited by Michiel Kamp, Tim Summers, and Mark Sweeney, 198–222. Sheffield, UK: Equinox, 2016.

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    Uses a diverse range of case studies from the 1980s to the 2010s to explore how remixed classical music in video games both challenges and reinforces notions of highbrow/lowbrow musical styles.

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  • Gunkel, David J. Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics after Remix. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016.

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    Critical reflections on remix culture as a site of debates regarding artistic creativity, integrity, and originality in 21st-century media. Focuses in particular on moral and aesthetic value judgments, and proposes new philosophical models that synthesize remix culture and traditional artistic creativity.

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  • Katz, Mark. Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1525/9780520947351Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Though much of this highly readable book focuses on pre-digital technologies (phonograph, radio, etc.), a significant chapter focuses on issues of race, identity, politics, and authorship in digital sampling.

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  • Laderman, David, and Laurel Westrup, eds. Sampling Media. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    This edited volume explores sampling and remix as artistic and cultural practices, expanding from the extant focus on digital music to examine other media and artistic modalities. Many contributions are informed by film theory; readers of this bibliography might be most interested in the section devoted to “Web,” where authors consider a range of industrial and amateur-created case studies. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. London: Bloomsbury, 2008.

    DOI: 10.5040/9781849662505Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This accessible book from a legal scholar examines the practice of remix as a cultural phenomenon, heralding a shift in media from “read only” to a “read/write” mentality in which consumers are also producers. Useful both as a still timely rumination on remix culture, and as a historical perspective on the digital practices in the first decade of the millennium.

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  • Miller, Paul D., ed. Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.

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    Valuable collection that brings together scholars, theorists, and practitioners from across a variety of disciplines, genres, and musical idioms to provide perspective on the early 2000s digital landscape via musical techniques and aesthetics. Though some of these perspectives are dated via the specificity of the software and digital communities under analysis, they nonetheless provide valuable historical snapshots. The form of the collection performatively engages with the themes and content under consideration; many of the contributions are collaborative or dialogic, many are experimental and/or poetic in form.

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  • Shaviro, Steven. Digital Music Videos. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2017.

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    Analysis of 21st-century music videos as a media form, connecting aesthetics of reflexivity, glitch, and remediation to production and circulation models under neoliberal capitalism. Draws heavily on film studies scholarship and methodologies. Text is accessible to nonspecialist readers.

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Audiences and Fandoms

The sources in this section engage with the way in which technologies have allowed audiences to connect with artists in a range of new and powerful ways, transforming relationships between artists and audiences, creating online gathering spaces for fan communities, and fundamentally changing practices of music collecting and ownership. Turk 2015 and Cookney 2017 address hybrid authorship and amateur artistry in fan-created music videos, while Bennett 2012 and Ray 2017 examine the complex and increasingly interactive relationships between artists and their audiences. Bartmanski and Woodward 2015 explores the postmillennial resurgence of vinyl collection in the digital age, while Anderton 2016 examines practices of digital music collecting. Green 2017 offers a challenge to contemporary concepts of music ownership through a case study of a single, highly expensive album.

  • Anderton, Chris. “Sonic Artefacts: ‘Record Collecting’ in the Digital Age.” IASPM Journal 6.1 (2016): 85–103.

    DOI: 10.5429/2079-3871(2016)v6i1.6enSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Identifies the development of digital-music music-collecting practices, especially communities revolving around the gathering, digitizing, and distributing of bootleg, out-of-print, or otherwise rare recordings. Centrally concerned with the idea of music ownership and control.

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  • Bartmanski, Dominik, and Ian Woodward. Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age. London: Bloomsbury, 2015.

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    A primarily sociological study, this source incorporates interviews and ethnographic research to analyze the ongoing “vinyl revival” that began in the late 2000s, in which an objectively outdated listening medium has become imbued with special cultural cachet and created a range of global markets and listening communities. See also Globalization and Place.

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  • Bennett, Lucy. “Patterns of Listening through Social Media: Online Fan Engagement with the Live Musical Experience.” Social Semiotics 22 (2012): 545–557.

    DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2012.731897Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Traces the various official, unofficial, and quasi-official roles that social media plays during live pop concerts, as audience members release set lists, photos, and videos in real time for the benefit of non-attendees. In some cases, artists likewise create mediated “live” experiences for non-attendees through collaboration with in-person audiences. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Cookney, Daniel. “Vimeo Killed the Video Star: Burial and the User-Generated Music Video.” In Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media. Edited by Gina Arnold, Daniel Cookney, Kirsty Fairclough, and Michael Goddard, 255–267. London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

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    Explores digital authorship and interpretation through user-generated music videos, using three amateur videos created for tracks by the electronic music producer Burial (Will Bevan), who declines to create “official” music videos or make public appearances. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Green, Ben. “Having the Sceptre: Wu-Tang Clan and the Aura of Music in the Age of Digital Reproduction.” Popular Music 36.3 (2017): 427–440.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143017000307Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines resistance to expectations of free or low-cost access to digital music through an extended case study of the hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan’s controversial album The Wu—Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (2014), which was released as only a single physical copy, which sold for two million dollars (US). See also Economics and Labor.

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  • Ray, Mary Beth. Digital Connectivity and Musical Culture: Artists and Accomplices. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-68291-4Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This brief monograph focuses on how digital technologies have altered the relationship between artists and audiences, with a fundamental argument that formerly passive listeners have frequently become collaborative “accomplices” in the creation process.

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  • Turk, Tisha. “Transformation in a New Key: Music in Vids and Vidding.” Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 9.2 (2015): 163–176.

    DOI: 10.3828/msmi.2015.11Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Intervenes in the scholarship around fan-made music videos to draw attention to the significance of such videos’ musical parameters, adduced in part through digital ethnography. Broadly characterizes meaning-making possibilities through aspects like genre or lyrical point of view in fan-made video music choices. See also Remix and Sampling.

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Liveness and Virtuality

The digital world challenges traditional notions of how “liveness” and “reality” intersect with music. The sources in this section each engage new challenges and opportunities for creating and consuming digitally mediated musical performances. Sanden 2019 offers an overview of how concepts of “liveness” have shifted in recent years. Cheng 2012, Harvey 2014, O’Leary and Tobias 2017, and Marshall 2019 each investigate music making in virtual spaces. By contrast, Fritsch and Strögen 2012 and Moehn 2014 explore blurred lines between live and recorded music in technologically mediated performances. Kim 2018 is an extended case study of how issues of liveness permeate a single popular music genre and its fan community.

  • Cheng, William. “Role-Playing toward a Virtual Musical Democracy in The Lord of the Rings Online.” Ethnomusicology 56 (2012): 31–62.

    DOI: 10.5406/ethnomusicology.56.1.0031Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Explores the cultures of musical performance by players in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), from attempts at public concerts to coordinated efforts to annoy other players with unwanted sonic distractions.

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  • Fritsch, Melanie, and Stefan Strögen. “Relatively Live: How to Identify Live Musical Performance.” Music and the Moving Image 5 (2012): 47–66.

    DOI: 10.5406/musimoviimag.5.1.0047Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Broad investigation into contemporary questions of live performance (ontology, reception and interpretation, context), including an overview of preceding theoretical treatments, updated to consider impacts of digital technology and platforms such as YouTube.

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  • Harvey, Trevor. “Virtual Worlds: An Ethnomusicological Perspective.” In The Oxford Handbook of Virtuality. Edited by Mark Grimshaw, 378–391. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    With a particular focus on the self-described “free 3D virtual world” Second Life, this chapter traces the cultural functions of music in fully digital spaces, including both professional concerts and amateur performance.

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  • Kim, Suk-Young. K-Pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018.

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    Explores how various performances of “liveness” are mediated, accomplished, and commodified in the K-pop industry. Methodology includes ethnography and authoethnography, and chapters explore different media formations: social media, music videos, holographic performances, live tours, and marketing campaigns. See also Audiences and Fandoms.

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  • Marshall, Wayne. “Social Dance in the Age of (Anti-)Social Media: Fortnite, Online Video, and the Jook at a Virtual Crossroads.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 31.4 (2019): 3–15.

    DOI: 10.1525/jpms.2019.31.4.3Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Analysis of the performances of programmed dance animations (“emotes”) in the Fortnite video game, in terms of identity and appropriation, commodification, and the performance of irony. See also Ethical Considerations.

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  • Moehn, Frederick. “The Pro Tools Generation: Digital Culture, Liveness, and the New Sincerity in Brazilian Popular Music.” In Music and Youth Culture in Latin America: Identity Construction Processes from New York to Buenos Aires. Edited by Pablo Vila, 225–242. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199986279.003.0009Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Using a group case study of three musicians in Rio de Janeiro, this chapter identifies how some Brazilian popular and jazz artists navigate complexities between “liveness”—both in in-person and prerecorded performance—and digital technologies that some feel encourage an anti-live perfection. Also traces the impact of cross-cultural borrowings and globalization. See also Globalization and Place.

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  • O’Leary, Jared, and Evan S. Tobias. “Sonic Participatory Cultures within, through, and around Video Games.” In The Oxford Handbook of Music Making and Leisure. Edited by Roger Mantie and Gareth Dylan Smith, 541–564. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

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    Provides an overview of video game spaces as sites of musical creation and community, identifying a wide range of games allowing musical participation, as well as paratextual activities involving games, such as the creation of films from gameplay or musical modifications to games. Focuses on situating games within other forms of musical leisure activities.

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  • Sanden, Paul. “Rethinking Liveness in the Digital Age. “In The Cambridge Companion to Music in Digital Culture. Edited by Nicholas Cook, Monique M. Ingalls, and David Trippett, 178–192. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

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    Beginning with the assumption that totally “live” music has all but ceased to exist, this useful overview explores the shifting meanings and values that continue to be ascribed to “liveness” in the digital era.

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Ethical Considerations

Though digital music technologies have created numerous beneficial possibilities and opportunities, their rapid global proliferation has also raised questions about ethical practices for the creation, distribution, and consumption of music. Some studies deal with ethical issues of race and cultural appropriation. Hilder, et al. 2017 offers a variety of perspectives on the impact of digital music creation and consumption on indigenous communities, while Gaunt 2015 and Redmond 2017 investigate how social media enables both the expression and appropriation of Black musical identity. Other studies are more focused on the ethics of the music industry: Burkart 2010 explores communities who reject traditional music industry economic models; Drott 2018 considers the ethical ramifications of streaming services that commodify user listening data.

  • Burkart, Patrick. Music and Cyberliberties. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2010.

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    Largely through the lens of communication studies, this source explores “cyberliberties activism”—communities of artists and fans who, for ethical reasons, reject economic models of both traditional recording labels and newer streaming services. Addresses the rise and fall of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks in the 2000s as a central theme. See also Mobility and Materiality and Economics and Labor.

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  • Drott, Eric. “Music as a Technology of Surveillance.” Journal of the Society for American Music 12.3 (2018): 233–267.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1752196318000196Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Addresses ethical concerns arising from streaming music services (e.g., Spotify) accumulating and selling user data as a means of generating revenue. Considers in particular the collection of listening data as a form of potentially invasive surveillance which can be used to target advertising to listeners. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Gaunt, Kyra D. “YouTube, Twerking & You: Context Collapse and the Handheld Co‐Presence of Black Girls and Miley Cyrus.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 27.3 (2015): 244–273.

    DOI: 10.1111/jpms.12130Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Brings media studies lenses to the consideration of twerking performance on YouTube—in particular, the concept of “context collapse” and its implications for Black girl performers on public-facing digital platforms. Important considerations of whiteness, privilege, and appropriation informed by new digital affordances and attendant dangers. See also YouTube and Circulations/Virality.

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  • Hilder, Thomas, Henry Stobart, and Shzr Ee Tan, eds. Music, Indigeneity, Digital Media. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2017.

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    A series of chapters whose analyses of varied case studies weave together the following themes: (1) activism, transnationalism, sovereignty; (2) production, mediation, consumption; (3) archives, transmission, orality; (4) subjectivity, ownership, authorship; (5) cosmologies, virtuality, posthumanism. Case study subjects include indigenous performers and creators from Taiwan, Peru, Bolivia, Finland, Australia, Canada, and the United States. See also Globalization and Place.

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  • Redmond, Shana. “‘Sing about Me’: Social Media Memorial and Inventory Form.” Current Musicology 99.100 (2017): 37–43.

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    Analysis of the violent and musical possibilities of social media as archives of response to Black death and racist violence. See also Digital Platforms.

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Economics and Labor

One of the more thoroughly researched topics related to music in the digital world, a significant amount of scholarship in musicology, economics, legal studies, cultural studies, and other fields has addressed the tremendous impact of digital music technologies on the music industry. While in some ways the increased access to recording technology and streaming sites like YouTube has democratized music, in other ways the industry has responded with tighter control of artistic labor and a shifting model of ownership that forces consumers into subscription services rather than outright ownership. Burkart and McCourt 2006 and Morris 2015 offer explorations of the gradual transition from physical media to digital distribution, while Anderson 2014 and Arditi 2020 delve into the shifting economics of the popular-music industry in the wake of that transition. Baym 2018, by contrast, focuses on the relationship between musicians and fans. Steingo 2016 and Vágnerová 2017 explore the global labor politics of digital music creation and distribution, through Marxist and post/neocolonial lenses, respectively.

  • Anderson, Tim J. Popular Music in a Digital Music Economy: Problems and Practices for an Emerging Service Industry. London: Routledge, 2014.

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    Considers a broad array of implications for the music industry stemming from the standardization of digital audio and the rise of networked computing. Valuable for its nuanced theorizing of music industries and economics thereof. Reframes consideration of musical economy in terms of the figure of an “end user,” with chapters considering that user’s impact on pricing, streaming, radio, publishing, and finance.

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  • Arditi, David. iTake-Over: The Recording Industry in the Digital Era. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020.

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    Cultural studies–based critique of the music industry’s exploitation of both artistic labor and listeners. Argues that, in contrast to conventional wisdom, major recording labels are better off financially today than they were prior to digital distribution, thanks to lower production costs and shifting copyright laws.

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  • Baym, Nancy K. Playing to the Crowd: Musicians, Audiences, and the Intimate Work of Connection. New York: New York University Press, 2018.

    DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479896165.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Situates musicians as model forerunners in theorizing workers and working conditions more broadly under 21st-century paradigms of the gig economy and relational labor. Method involves impressive ethnographic work with a wide array of musicians, woven engagingly into considerations of how social media and digital technologies impel new practices of “relational labor” from musicians towards their fans, audiences, and consumers. See also Audiences and Fandoms and Digital Platforms.

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  • Burkart, Patrick, and Tom McCourt. Digital Music Wears: Ownership and Control of the Celestial Jukebox. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.

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    Although now significantly dated, this readable book traces the early days of the shift into digital distribution models for music, with special attention to the just-manifesting concept of the “celestial jukebox,” which has since manifested fully in streaming platforms. Special attention is paid to legal and corporate approaches to regulating digital distribution of music. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Morris, Jeremy Wade. Selling Digital Music, Formatting Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1525/9780520962934Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Compelling historical and cultural study of the transition from physical media such as CDs to digital downloads, and then from downloads to cloud-based networks. Case studies include some lesser-studied but important platforms, including Winamp and iTunes. See also Digital Platforms.

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  • Steingo, Gavin. “Musical Economies of the Elusive Metropolis.” In Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique. Edited by Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan, 246–268. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822374947-012Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Drawing on the work of autonomous Marxist theorists, this chapter uses the case study of kwaito, a South African electronic music genre, to situate music at the vanguard of immaterial production, viewed as a model for emerging kinds of labor practices. Especially useful for those interested in applications of Marxist economic theory to musical labor and products under contemporary global capitalism. See also Globalization and Place.

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  • Vágnerová, Lucie. “‘Nimble Fingers’ in Electronic Music: Rethinking Sound through Neo-colonial Labour.” Organised Sound 22.2 (2017): 250–258.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1355771817000152Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An important intervention foregrounding the neocolonial gendered labor (and associated tropes of docility, obedience, and nimbleness) undergirding and erased by “magical” technologies in the transnational electronics industry. See also Mobility and Materiality.

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