Putting It Out There

MA Thesis

For a while I was thinking that I wouldn’t bother posting my MA online. Really, after the defense, and what with the evolution of my thought since I started the PhD, I figured it old news.  But, I’ve decided to let it out of the dusty confines of my hard drive and give it some air.  After all, what’s this whole academic thing about if it isn’t about sharing ideas, even if doing so risks criticism?  It’s in the criticism that we can alter and adjust our thinking.  So, while I stand by what I’ve written in this document, I’m not promoting it as my final position on these matters and I’m eagerly anticipating changes in my thought, even to the point of disagreeing with myself (which happens more often that not anyway, so what the hell)! Enjoy!

Online Music Communities:
Challenging Sexism, Capitalis
m, and Authority in Popular Music (PDF, 650kb)

With its almost exclusive focus on the economics of the music industry, the early-21st century debate over digital music piracy has obscured other vital areas of study in the relationship between popular music and the Internet. This thesis addresses some of these neglected areas, specifically issues of agency, representation, discipline, and authority; it examines each of these in relationship to the formation and maintenance different online music communities. I argue that contemporary online trends related to music promotion, consumption, and criticism are, in fact, part of a much larger socio-cultural re-envisioning of the relationships between artists and audiences, artists and the music industry, and among audience members themselves. The relationship between music and the Internet is not only subversive on the level of economics.

I examine these issues in three key areas. Independent women’s music communities challenge patriarchal authority in the music industry as they use online discussion forums and websites to advance their own careers. The tension that exists between the traditional for-profit music industry and the developing ethic of sharing in the filesharing community creates the conditions whereby we can imagine alternative ways that music can circulate in culture. “Citizen media,” such as blogs and “open source” encyclopædias, allows for those who otherwise had no avenue for presenting their thoughts and ideas to engage in public discourse. Traditional understandings of authority and expertise are subject to revision as new ways of assessing authority develop for online sources. This is also evident in the struggles of “old-media” groups in reconciling their established publishing and editorial practices with emergent online practices.

This thesis foregrounds the work of individuals by drawing extensively from interviews, personal blogs, and online discussion forums. In this way, the monolithic “grand narratives” of the Internet, such as the filesharing “battle” or the democratic potential of online discourse, are shown to be the product of many individual subjectivities, each of whom contribute to authoring the online environment.

EDIT: Holy Crap! For those of you wondering what “Captialism” is, I have no answer. I only just noticed the misspelling on the cover today as I posted the picture! My parents sent me these pictures the day the bound copy arrived in the mail back in Novvember! I guess I never really looked close enough at them!

Posted in Academia, General, Music.