Monetizing Amateurs. Artistic Critique, New Online Record Production and Neoliberal Conjuncture

Juho Tuomas Kaitajärvi-Tiekso (2020)

Culture Unbound, 12(2), pp. 412-435. Open Access.

Abstract. This article examines an emerging academic discourse of new online record production. It represents amateur musicians and producers – with access to new digital production and communication tools – as entrepreneurial, aspiring professionals. The article then connects the discourse with its political, economic, and social context – or the neoliberal conjuncture. From the critical standpoint of conjunctural analysis it takes note of the albeit uneven nature of this neoliberalisation when it comes to certain cultural formations such as the “underground”, “do-it-yourself” and “independent micro-label” music scenes, who are considered to be maintaining “the artistic critique of capitalism”, as outlined by Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello. While the latter suggest that this critique has been, for all intents and purposes, assimilated into capitalism; the case of underground and independent micro-label scenes would seem to repudiate the prevailing neoliberal notions of utilitarian music-making in the new online record production framework. This being said, the article does consider that it might be necessary to revise aspects of the artistic critique rehearsed in music scenes such as the aforementioned for it to remain relevant in the new digital communication environment.

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