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Thesis 1

THESIS DETAILS
Thesis Title: The Commodification of Music Theorising Musicians
Degree Type: PhD
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr Pierre McDonagh, Dr David Marshall
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: 2005
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
Thesis Location / Link: http://arrow.dit.ie/busdoc/1
THESIS CONTENT
Abstract: This thesis considers the dialectical relationship between music and commerce and asks the question why are some musicians uneasy with the commodification of their music? The question is considered from the vantage points of professional musicians and their experiences in dealing with the commodification process. In exploring this dialectic, the thesis is organised around the interactionist orientation and a framework designed by Holt (2004) in which the research design and question emerges from a conversation between grand and mid-range theory. To this effect a post-Marxist grand theory conversation between several writers who have considered the commodification of culture is presented. Following this the mid-range theory is divided into two separate conversations. First the literature regarding marketing’s use of music as a means of social control is reviewed and organised between positivist and interpretive approaches as they relate to the use of music in retail atmospherics and advertising. Second, a review of the literature concerning the culture industries themselves is presented. The culture industries are divided between the background music industry, the advertising industry, the music industry and finally the art-world. It is noted how each industry is organised around the mythology of theory – x and theory – y employees and this mythology is problematised. Following this a historicisation of the relationship between music and commerce is presented in which it is noted that conventional morality regarding the production of music is strongly influenced by nineteenth century notions of value and in particular the emergence of the bohemian ideology. Interviews were conducted with professional musicians from a range of different musical backgrounds in order to consider their experiences of the commodification of their music. The data analysis produced three over-arching themes: ‘x versus y’, ‘alienation’ and ‘taking responsibility’. Also a fourth umbrella theme is presented which considers all three themes together in the context of interactions of musicians with advertising. The study concludes by theorising the existence of a Sacred Code of Musicianship, which provides a repressive conventional morality for musicians. It is argued that this code is problematic insofar as it regards music and money as two distinct principles. Instead this thesis submits that evading this Sacred Code can give musicians a better chance of achieving their musical and artistic goals by embracing commerce. Last, the implications for the various constituencies of the work are considered

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