«Context is the new genre» — Abstraktion og singularisering i digital musikformidling

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The development of digital music services has been followed by an expansive elaboration of genre categories and a simultaneous shift of these in the direction of mood and activity, which challenges musical genres’ traditional association with scenes and musico-cultural environments. This article explores this development and, more broadly, the significance of genre categories in digital music distribution as performed by streaming services. As a framework for discussion, Andreas Reckwitz’s concept of the society of singularities is introduced and, relatedly, the assumption that genres’ significance for commercial music streaming implies a (scalable and reversible) process of abstraction, which mediates between the social logic of the general and that of the particular. Specifically, this pertains to the rationalized categorization of users, music and musical life and the simultaneous provision of customized, individual and context-specific music experiences in a supposedly infinitely flexible stream. This service is identified as affective, and it requires abstract categories’ (unending) potential for concrete completion. Discussions are based on an analysis of Spotify’s music distribution – specifically the MIR-based genre analysis that affords the service’s music curation, and its presentation in user interface and marketing.
Translated title of the contribution«Context is the new genre» — Abstraction and singularization in digital music distribution
Original languageDanish
Article number5
JournalNorsk Medietidsskrift
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Genre, Abstraction, Singularization, Streaming, Digital Music Distribution, spotify

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