Leah O’Brien Bernini: Capitalism and resistance in professional Irish music

Professional musical artists continually respond to and interact with the neoliberal social formation through the hegemony of the commercial music industry.1 This post presents findings from my doctoral study investigating the complex, entwined relationship between commercialized traditional music and neoliberalism in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The four-year ethnographic study engages over eighty prominent professional Irish traditional and Celtic musical artists and related industry personnel. This post suggests domination in the music industry is primarily achieved and reinforced through exclusion. This is accomplished by restricting access to three forms of capital identified by Bourdieu (1986): cultural, economic, and social, which correspond with the three modes of domination: ideological, material, and status. This work explores how, when, and why professional artists may utilize acts of resistance2 against different forms of domination when attempting to improve their relative social position.
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Mark Berry: Richard Wagner’s revolution: “Music drama” against bourgeois “opera”

Contrary to widespread opinion, Richard Wagner started off his career as the most revolutionary composer of the nineteenth century, not just in a musical sense but also in a more straightforwardly political manner. Contemporary obsession with alleged anti-Semitism in his dramatic works, aided and abetted by the de facto prohibition upon their performance in Israel, has tended to drown out all other controversy, of which there should be more, not less, both in quantity and in quality.
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Jayson Beaster-Jones: Music, labor, and value in Indian music stores

The Indian music industry of the early 2000s was extremely volatile, as the overproduction of new recordings and ready availability of pirated material led to a decline in overall sales and waning profitability for the physical circulation of recorded music. Indian music retailers had to navigate a complex social and business environment in which their customers could shop for music in a bewildering array of successful retail outlets, ranging from street hawkers to family-owned shops to large, organized chain stores, to mobile phone providers.
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David Diallo: “Every day I’m hustlin’”: Rap music as street capitalism

In a 2004 article, rap scholar Mickey Hess remarked, “Making money is a legitimate goal for rappers, and one that is stated outright in lyrics” (635). Rap musicians, it is true, very often display a capitalistic frame of mind in their performance. They consistently refer to money—more specifically, to making money through entrepreneurial activities—and generally draw on a semantic field of capitalism. For example, EPMD—a rap group whose moniker stands for Eric and Parish Making Dollars and who released the albums Strictly Business (1988), Unfinished Business (1989), Business as Usual (1990), Business Never Personal (1992), Back in Business (1997), Out of Business (1999), and We Mean Business (2008)—clearly favored a business-oriented and capitalist discourse. Record labels like Cash Money in New Orleans and Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella, whose name explicitly references the capitalist heights rappers seek to climb, similarly point to this inclination. Whether they do it through their aliases or in their lyrics, rap musicians brazenly display a capitalist frame of mind and repeatedly brag about their enterprises, whether legitimate (like outstanding record sales) or criminal (particularly, accomplishments in the underground economy of the “hustle”).
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Tom Wagner: Music, media, evangelical Protestantism: A very short history

The evangelical preacher Joel Osteen, whose nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, attracts an estimated 40,000 worshippers weekly, is often presented as paradigmatic of the ways faith, media, and capitalism intersect in today’s media environment (e.g., Einstein 2008). Osteen’s message is communicated through his best-selling books, CDs, and DVDs; his satellite radio program and television network; and a well-managed Internet infrastructure of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; podcasts, direct-marketing emails, a blog, mobile phone apps, and even an iPad magazine (Bosker 2012). In other words, “Joel” is more than a preacher; he is a branded media package. Continue reading

Anna Morcom: Music and capitalism – an introduction

Capitalism originated first in the city-states of Renaissance Italy and grew to become a world system with trade, industrialization, and colonialism (Braudel 1982; Arrighi [1994] 2010). Thus, capitalism encompasses core centuries of the development of Western classical music and the transformation of classical and folk musics across the world under colonialism and modernity. However, research on music and its relationship to capitalism remains limited and focuses more on popular music and cultural industries. This is due to deeply rooted notions about “high” and “low” arts and “art” versus “commercial” music. The 1938 searing indictment of mass culture as an instrument of capitalist oppression by the musicologist, composer, and leading Frankfurt theorist Theodor Adorno also carries a strong responsibility (indeed, it was Adorno who coined the term “cultural industries,” giving it a strongly pejorative meaning [1978]).
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