Musicians organised as ‘acts’, seek audiences. Audiences bring recognition and the possibility of acclaim for ability, sensibility and inventiveness, but they also offer the monetary income to sustain the role of a musician.
In organising themselves to be ‘used’ — to be attended to and enjoyed — musicians offer themselves as a text in their totality. The value users find in a music act derives from its textual totality and so involves the music it makes, how its members present themselves together with the ways in which their actions are explained or contextualised.
In order to find audiences acts must enter markets. In entering markets, acts seek to form alliances with companies whose expertise lies in music-market entry.
While acts and companies have vested interests in market success, these interests are not identical: musicians may want acclaim above other considerations; companies must seek profit and growth regardless of other considerations. Ultimately, there is a defining tension between the two which always problematises the working alliances they form.
In preparing them for market-entry, music companies ‘add value’ to acts. This added value is what converts texts into symbolic goods. To add value to a text involves value adders having access to that text. This ‘access’ cannot fail to be registered as impacts on the original conception of the text. ‘Impacts’ need not necessarily be negative and an act might offer the strongest definition of its own work. Even so, neither eventuality is certain; so it is that the value-adding process is usually a fraught one and always tense because musicians, artist managers and music company representatives might conflict with each other, separately and together, over the finished form of the symbolic good.
KeywordsCompact Disc Informal Economy Market Success Popular Music Music Industry
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.