Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Music Research Seminar: Sally Anne Gross

State of Emergency: The Production of Music is Out of Control

Lecture Theatre 1, School of Music

The speaker is Sally Anne Gross (University of Westminster)



“Music announces the entry of the sign into the general economy and the conditions for the shattering of representation.” Jacques Attali

There is an international consensus that there is a crisis within the music industry, in all quarters, discussions abound and questions are raised about what can be done to re-stabilize the ‘value’ of music? This is not a question of the use value of music but of its exchange value for the use value of music is not in question. Music is everywhere, abundant and fluid and at the service of all who need or want it. Music is now mobile and attached, embedded or and at the service of something else, something more than just music alone. This shift is very important and needs to be addressed as it impacts on the whole music industry ecosystem.

Music industry practices are evolving in line with the transformation of the sites of production, distribution and performance, which look and can be experienced very differently depending where you are in the music supply chain; music’s shift from the public to the private sphere is increasingly exaggerated in the digital era and with it importantly for symbol creators (Hesmondalgh’s term) and the symbol creation industries, the increasing destabilization of value both of ritual, use and exchange; concepts that are fundamental to the understanding of the culture/creative industries in which the music industry is situated. Here I argue that Jodi Dean’s concept of Communicative Capitalism is pivotal to our understanding of these changing conditions. Dean’s identification of the ‘fantasy of abundance’ and it’s subsequent implications can be clearly observed in the struggles now facing the music supply chain and that her analysis is crucial to understanding the operation of music in cyberspace.

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