Rawing upon contemporary theorists, discuss the impact of the digital threat upon global consumption of music.

Drawing upon contemporary theorists, discuss the impact of the digital threat upon the global consumption of music.

This is an essay where it is tempting to include a great deal of data and stats (much of which is easily obtainable via the web). However, a strong essay will not only discuss the impact of digital technologies but will successfully draw upon cultural theory in order offer a balanced and critical account of the issues involved. Here it is important to show not only that you understand cultural theory but can use it creatively to generate an interesting analysis of the relevant issues. The following sections offer some guidance in terms of how you might do this.

The essay posits a number of questions :

What is the impact  this can be economic and cultural
Is it a threat ? or is it actually liberating or democratic ?
How might the nature of consumption change (a change in emphasis towards interactivity rather that one directional flows like downloading) ?

Whilst there are a number of ways/directions in terms of tackling the question the following areas should be addressed :

1) You need to say something about globalisation and possibly show an awareness of some of the issues which inform debates about the subject.
With this in mind, I attach an undergrad essay of mine which includes a number of useful refs and ideas. Here, it will be necessary to unpack the term globalisation : what might it mean for the world and, of course, music ? Does it usefully describe anything ? In particular, what will it mean for local indigenous cultures ? Will the world become one enormous rationalised, homogeneous market : mass culture on a global scale ? (this is a pessimistic view) or, will it facilitate a post fordist, fragmented market place ?

2) Economic how does digital technology impact upon capitalism the idea of property (intellectual) is fundamental here.
Is capitalism under any kind of real threat. Here, it would be useful to mention the economic impact of digital technologies and their connection with concepts like synergy and convergence (see Golding, P & Murdock, G (2000)  Culture, Communications and Political Economy in Mass Media and Society, (eds) James Curran & Michael Gurevitch, third edition, Arnold)  on the reading list for Wk 1.
Try and assemble some statistical information here about the impact of digital technology on the recording industry.
How should we see the threat to capitalism : In Marxist terms perhaps.
How does digital technology affect the way that music is produced : Fordism/Post Fordism.

3) Does digital technology have a liberating potential (ie an optimistic view) ? Here you could consider Habermas idea of the public sphere (on the reading list for Wk 1) (although be careful to relate his ideas specifically to music rather than politics in general) and the way in which some artists (Prince, Simply Red) market themselves on the net. Benjamin will be relevant here too many of his observations form a useful discussion point (Benjamin will be discussed in seminar groups in Wk 4).
4) McLuhan offers some useful concepts I have a summary of his ideas (see attached). For a more pessimistic view of technology you might look at Heidegger.

5) Some mention of modernity/postmodernity would not go amiss Could digital technology be viewed as part of a universalising process, increasing the pace and breadth of consumption (people can now store several days worth of music on one device  see also the article on  the long tail which was a handout in Wk 3) drawing us towards one rationalised world market place where the local becomes replaced by Western pop music. Alternatively, will markets become more fragmented as artists promote their own music and the binary opposites of producer/consumer are collapsed (digital technology has democratised the production of music and in some Warholian sense we are now all producers). Try and include a mention of Fordism/Post Fordism here.
Berman, M (1997) All that is solid melts into air. Ninth Edition, Simon Schuster (New York)
Gilroy, P (1993) The Black Atlantic, Verso
Harvey, D (1990) The condition of post-modernity, Blackwell Publishers (UK) Ltd. Ch 2.
Marcuse, H. (1991) One dimensional man, 2nd edition Beacon Press
Scott, D.B (2000) Introduction to music, culture and society: A Reader, ed Derek B Scott, Oxford University Press