Musicians in the digital age : how digitalization changed how music is made

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Brett M. Bolte (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Zachary Levenson

Abstract: The changes caused by digitalization have had many impacts in how we live our lives, and this study looked at the impacts of digitalization on the music industry. This study analyzed how digitalization has changed how artists make music and how they define themselves, as well as the broader implications of digitalization on the music industry ideology. As discussed in the literature of the field of music ideology, artists had at one point depended on record labels to make music and define themselves. But this same literature stated that digitalization had little impacts on artists and that any technological changes only further served the ideology. This study entered into this discussion by conducting semi-structured interviews with artists. These interviews gained a view of how digitalization changed how artists go about making music and defining themselves, as well as testing if these align with the ideals of the music ideology. This study found that artists are dependent on digital alternatives in pursuit of making music. How they defined themselves has also become more digital, seeing the use of social media as a necessity, and invoking digitally bound ideas of authenticity and legitimacy. The artists did indicate that record labels do still contain some power, but it is often in specific parts of the industry rather than the total control of the past. Signing to a label were often seen as a means to an end, not as the sole arbiter of success that was put forward by the literature. This study also points to an emerging ideology, one that could be based on the power and control that can be exerted on musicians and other content creators through social media. This study calls for further research, as it raises questions on the effects that digitalization has had on other media industries. The possibility of an emerging ideology is also an idea that asks to be further researched, especially as digitalization continues to affect our world.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Artist, Digitalization, Ideology, Music, Social Media, Sociology
Musicians $x Effect of technological innovations on
Music and technology
Music and the Internet
Music $x Social aspects

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