The processes through which musicians pass before they sign their first recording contract can encompass a lifetime’s effort. When writers write and players play they draw on every aspect of themselves that led to a particular point in their personal history. They do this because they elect to go in search of audiences and the acclaim they offer. There are no real blueprints for any of this activity; the autobiographies and biographies of musicians tend to treat industrial interactions as of marginal relevance and, in any case, audiences constitute themselves through ceaselessly changing signifying materials drawn into ever-shifting structures of feeling. Effectively every musician, at least at the outset of what are too loosely referred to as their ‘careers’, reinvents the wheel; the wheel, they hope, will roll them into public consciousness and through this to the acclaim of discerning audiences. But as every chapter has so far argued, this ‘wheel-rolling’ is, in fact, an industrial process: audiences can only be found through market practices and, consequently, how markets are entered, in the face of enormous competition and with an offer of enormously fragile symbolic goods, decides the fate of all musicians, established or otherwise. In turn, because it is an industrial process and because new musicians can be so unprepared for its industrial nature then the process tends to favour music companies as investors in the production of symbolic goods, rather than musicians. Considered in these terms, musicians mostly come and go and music companies usually survive, but so far in popular cultural history, what outlasts both is the industrial process of cultural production itself.
KeywordsMarket Entry Dealer Price Popular Music Music Industry Record Company
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