Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

This collection presents a range of essays on contemporary music distribution and consumption patterns and practices. The contributors to the collection use a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, discussing the consequences and effects of the digital distribution of music as it is manifested in specific cultural contexts.
The widespread circulation of music in digital form has far-reaching consequences: not least for how we understand the practices of sourcing and consuming music, the political economy of the music industries, and the relationships between format and aesthetics. Through close empirical engagement with a variety of contexts and analytical frames, the contributors to this collection demonstrate that the changes associated with networked music are always situationally specific, sometimes contentious, and often unexpected in their implications.
With chapters covering topics such as the business models of streaming audio, policy and professional discourses around the changing digital music market, the creative affordances of format and circulation, and local practices of accessing and engaging with music in a range of distinct cultural contexts, the book presents an overview of the themes, topics and approaches found in current social and cultural research on the relations between music and digital technology.



Chapter 1. Editors’ Introduction

In the editors’ introduction to Networked Music Cultures, Nowak and Whelan present an overview of the collection and its contents, and situate the volume with respect to the existing field of research on music online. Emphasising the theoretical and methodological range contained within the collection, they argue for diversity and plurality of analyses, suggesting that all singular approaches are subject to shortcomings in dealing with such a complex phenomenon as digital music. The authors rather suggest that because networked music is always articulated across specific contexts and scales, forms of analysis and conceptualisation reflect this. Analogously, the variety of approaches to the field is also indicative of how particular disciplinary approaches shed light in particular ways.
Raphaël Nowak, Andrew Whelan

Chapter 2. The People’s Mixtape: Peer-to-Peer File Sharing without the Internet in Contemporary Cuba

Astley provides an ethnographic account of the use of USB devices in contemporary Cuba as tools to disseminate ‘problematic’—ideologically and logistically—foreign cultural texts. Albums, songs, music videos, films, television series, books and pictures, all largely unavailable through official media, are swapped among friends in private spaces, forming a complex network of cultural dissemination dubbed by Vincente Morín Aguado ‘the people’s Internet’. By tracing the socio-technological lineage through burned CDs, cassettes and foreign radio, Astley connects this latest practice to a longer history, arguing that these cultural texts are woven into, and made sense of through, a distinctly Cuban cultural lens. He suggests that, because of this selective, interpersonal nature, a more apt term for this peer-to-peer file sharing might be ‘the people’s mixtape’.
Tom Astley

Chapter 3. Musica Analytica: The Datafication of Listening

In this chapter, Robert Prey explores what he calls the datafication of listening. On contemporary music streaming services, every song we listen to, every song we skip, every thumb up or thumb down, is tracked and fed into an algorithm. Prey provides a detailed description of how data is collected and used to personalise the listening and advertising experience at two leading streaming platforms, Spotify and Pandora Internet Radio. ‘Musica Analytica: The Datafication of Listening’ concludes by discussing some of the broader social implications of this transformation in music consumption.
Robert Prey

Chapter 4. The Legacy of Napster

The legacy of Napster’s fusion of digital compression, World Wide Web distribution and its own central server–based search and share programme is a profusion of file-sharing, torrent-based and streaming services that now make free access and sharing of digital content ‘normal’. Napster has been replaced by distributed forms of peer-to-peer copyright-infringing services that continue to evade the law, as well as by predominantly free legal services like Spotify. Even legal downloading services like iTunes would not exist had it not been for Napster’s breaking down of the monopoly supply of music by record companies. Free recorded content has increased live performance earnings, so another legacy of Napster is that artists themselves are better paid.
Matthew David

Chapter 5. Streaming Music in Japan: Corporate Cultures as Determinants of Listening Practice

Although Japan led the world in the adoption of mobile-phone consumer culture (e.g. ringtones) in the 1990s to late 2000s, it now lags behind in the adoption of streaming formats. Why has streaming music been slower to catch on in Japan? Pre-existing conceptions of old media, such as a Japanese tendency to listen to radio less often and radio stations that do not specialise in a particular genre, made Pandora-style, DJ-less online radio a less compelling format; naming an online streaming service ‘radio’ did not familiarize the new media, as it did in the USA. Growth was further inhibited by a lack of statutory licences, so that streaming services had to negotiate rights with record companies, and record companies were reluctant to supply streaming companies with Japanese content, including current chart toppers and back catalogue. Finally, smartphones took a longer time to catch on in Japan, as mid-2000s flip phones were so advanced that the iPhone did not look that groundbreaking at its launch.
Noriko Manabe

Chapter 6. Making Sense of Acquiring Music in Mexico City

This chapter offers a look into the piracy market in Mexico City and its relation to digital environments. By focusing on Mexico City piracy, it also shows how ethical and moral views are constructed and mobilised in different ways regarding different technologies, meaning that technologies for music consumption are not stabilised and are always convergent and mobile, situating the consumer in a flexible way according to the justifications summoned up. The author uses some theoretical concepts from the sociology of music, but also tries to show how the language proposed by later actor-network theorists is still useful when talking about the relation between consumers, technologies and music, particularly in legally complex environments such as Mexico City.
Víctor Ávila-Torres

Chapter 7. Reading Songs, Experiencing Music: Co-creation, Materiality and Expertise in Beck’s Song Reader

This chapter presents a detailed case study of the Song Reader project by Beck Hansen as a significant exponent of the changing relationship between musicians and their publics, in the framework of the continual attempts to reinvent the music industry. Song Reader was released in late 2012 in book format, containing music sheets of 20 new unrecorded songs, illustrations and some introductory notes inviting fans to perform and adapt them freely. Consequently, a wide range of creative outcomes of Song Reader appeared, from live performances to video material, graphic art or even recorded albums. Indeed, although it was not planned, different Beck-curated versions have been performed and released, thus constituting a valuable source for a cultural analysis in terms of participation, materiality, affection, authority and expertise.
Antoni Roig, Gemma San Cornelio

Chapter 8. The Digital Music Boundary Object

Digital music is heterogeneous: what is brought under or left outside of the umbrella of digital music differs. Nowak and Whelan demonstrate this with reference to three examples: the 2007 release of In Rainbows by Radiohead as a ‘pay-what-you-want’ download, the 2010 leak of Autechre’s Oversteps, and the fan videos set to the Phoenix song ‘Lisztomania’, discussed by law professor Lawrence Lessig. They use the concept of the ‘boundary object’, as developed in science and technology studies and in anthropology, to describe how digital music works in these conversations. Pointing out that these stories and others like them foreground particular perspectives and moral orientations, they highlight how digital music serves as a vehicle for the expression of political imaginings of value and cultural and social exchange.
Raphaël Nowak, Andrew Whelan

Chapter 9. ‘A Step Back to the Dark Ages of the Music Industry’: Democratisation of Record Production and Discourses on Spotify in Kuka Mitä Häh?

This chapter examines the experience of the power relations of the developing streaming market in Finland, by focusing on the discourses on Spotify in the Facebook group Kuka Mitä Häh?, which has been the main Finnish platform for the continuing debate on digital music services. In the discussions many small entrepreneurs such as artists and producers express concern about their position in the streaming environment, while contrary views claim that all artists and labels will benefit from Spotify in the long term. Eventually, as the former maintain that in the development the risks are being shifted from large to small actors, Kaitajärvi-Tiekso interprets the group discourse supporting recent notions of the growing hegemony of global corporations in the music industries.
Juho Kaitajärvi-Tiekso

Chapter 10. Off the Charts: The Implications of Incorporating Streaming Data into the Charts

Collins and O’Grady explore the impacts of digitisation on music charts. Focusing on streaming platforms such as Spotify, the chapter questions the continued relevance of calculating charts based on sales when consumer data offers far more nuanced information that measures the popularity of music based on use. The authors firmly situate the current opportunities for reconfiguring charts within a history of the music industries that is characterised by transformations and continuities.
Steve Collins, Pat O’Grady

Chapter 11. Rethinking the Digital Playlist: Mixtapes, Nostalgia and Emotionally Durable Design

This chapter compares the experience of creating and listening to digital playlists with the experience of making and sharing mixtapes. Grounded in theories of nostalgia and emotionally durable design, the chapter offers a unique perspective on music listening habits, and argues that nostalgic accounts and contemporary references to the mixtape can enhance our understanding of digital music listening and contemporary listening practices. Through a theoretical and critical exploration of the affordances and limitations of digital music platforms in relation to the mixtape, the chapter provides a provocation to the music industry (and to those studying popular music practices and music consumption) to consider the importance of the listening experience, arguing that it should be thought of as creative, haptic, performative, immersive and embodied.
Kieran Fenby-Hulse

Chapter 12. A Song for Ireland? Policy Discourse and Wealth Generation in the Music Industry in the Context of Digital Upheavals and Economic Crisis

Drawing on a recent Irish-based study, this chapter examines how major players in the music business have restructured themselves in the context of an evolving digital environment, but also a period of global economic crisis. Rogers and Cawley are particularly attentive to the role played by the intellectual property rights (IPR) regime in shaping the music sector’s recent development, particularly through copyright, trademarks and new and evolving forms of music ‘brand partnerships’. Their findings not only challenge received opinion on the fortunes of the music industry in digital times, but crucially they highlight growing contradictions between IPR policies pursued by successive Irish governments and the wealth return of core music industry players to the Irish economy.
Jim Rogers, Anthony Cawley

Chapter 13. Pachelbel This Ain’t: Mashups and Canon (De)formation

Cushing offers an insightful analysis of the mashup’s maturity as a musical entity, albeit one still lacking a canon of representative works. Focusing on the mechanisms by which canons for commercially sanctioned works develop, Cushing expands on why these means are either unnecessary or entirely inapplicable to the parallel development of a mashup canon. Instead, he proposes a new series of mechanisms that may offer a solution for the community of mashup producers and listeners to develop their own pantheon of historical and milestone works. ‘Pachelbel This Ain’t’ concludes with a call to arms for the mashup community not just to form a canon but also to consider its raison d’être.
Anthony Cushing

Chapter 14. Music Streaming the Everyday Life

Hagen offers an analysis of uses of music streaming services, and discusses how such services participate in shaping individual experiences and acquire meaning through how the services are embedded in everyday life. Focusing on the services’ affordances, the chapter acknowledges the interactions arising within each moment of streaming, including the online streaming applications, the person, the music and the context. ‘Music Streaming the Everyday Life’ demonstrates that individual music streaming experiences arise immediately and with a taken-for-granted attitude that enhances music’s role in people’s daily life. The study also offers a productive methodological model for exploring online (listening) habits that stand to benefit from immediate sampling, as it produces a fleeting, contextual understanding of people’s individual everyday experiences.
Anja Nylund Hagen


Weitere Informationen