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Session Overview
Roundtable-02: Trust and dissonance in networked music cultures: socialities, aspirations, and evaluations of music online
Thursday, 03/Oct/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Andrew Whelan
Location: P413
(cap. 54)

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Trust and dissonance in networked music cultures: socialities, aspirations, and evaluations of music online

Andrew Whelan1, Raphaël Nowak2, Nancy Baym3, Ben Morgan4, Arnt Maasø5

1University of Wollongong; 2Griffith University; 3Microsoft Research; 4RMIT; 5University of Oslo

Mediated music cultures raise aspirations about the future of music as a form of sociality, and critical evaluations of whether such aspirations are fulfilled, and how and why they can be frustrated. This roundtable considers these aspirations and evaluations across a range of distinct manifestations of networked music. It addresses the degrees of trust expressed regarding how networked mediation continues to unfold the accessibility of music and the promise of participation, in apparently ever new ways.

Despite a fragile existence (given transitory platforms and the contested copyright status of digital formats), contemporary online music communities coalesce and become visible through the affordances of networked platform interfaces. Habits and customs shaped in earlier media ecologies often influence engagements, alongside imaginings which may or may not mesh predictably with new and emerging technologies and dominant legal and industrial arrangements.

In this context, participants (musicians, fans, critics etc.) develop novel activities and practices, alongside and in relation with commercial interests shaping the infrastructures of dialogue and exchange. Musicians conduct new forms of affective and relational labour, prefiguring precarious work practices in the wider economy. Sample-based genres and mash-ups contest and denaturalise intellectual property regimes through ‘fair use’, with creative work often freely circulated. Collective memories of pivotal places and names in popular music history are disrupted, as participants share experiences contrary to dominant narratives. The revenue generated from private listening is distributed in opaque and inequitable ways, while the data generated by this listening is used to algorithmically inform future listening. As new genres emerge, fragment, and subside, fans build public archives, appropriating the intellectual registers of critics to form canons and legitimate authenticity claims.

Drawing on these distinct potentialities and realities of music online, this roundtable highlights configurations of trust and dissonance in the experience of how networked technologies structure socio-musical fields.

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