The Commodification of Music in the Age of Curated Experience
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In a modern culture wherein the primary mode of consumption of music is through streaming platforms, information technology conglomerates continue to dominate modes of consumption of popular music, and thus, gain broader and more powerful control over the commodification and distribution of music. Historically, critiques of the entertainment industry and cultural commodification began with the Frankfurt School scholars Theodore Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Max Horkheimer, among others. Such arguments criticized the standardization of songs and the formulaic processes that began to take shape as record labels and music business entities vied for commercial success. Today, the ubiquitous presence of the Internet and refined algorithmic analysis have sparked a resurgence of these arguments in the context of the datafication of society, the technological trend in which many aspects of life are turned into valuable consumer data to be sold and profited from. This thesis explores the ramifications of such influence in commercial music, from its production to its promotion, through the lens of technological developments that affect artist integrity and creative independence. To examine this fundamental tension today, the career and influence of UK band The 1975 will be analyzed using the theories originally proposed by the Frankfurt school as an example of the difficulties in cultivating a massive loyal following while remaining decidedly independent from corporate influence.