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Music, platforms and the digital self: the negotiation of identity in online music cultures in the 2010s

Morgan, Henry 2023. Music, platforms and the digital self: the negotiation of identity in online music cultures in the 2010s. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis evaluates the relationship between identity and musical practice in online culture, particularly in relation to the phenomenon of platform capitalism during the 2010s. Working with a concept of musical identity that centres the activity of audiences along with music producers, six case studies investigate how internet users use popular music to negotiate their sense of individual and collective selfhood. Conspicuous consumption is examined as an identity mediator in audience communities and in the work of prominent music critic Anthony Fantano, forming part of a hybridisation of popular music culture with cultural norms unique to the internet. This process is further analysed via the work of musicians associated with online culture, including the band Death Grips and composer Daniel Lopatin. Throughout, parallels are drawn between the nature of music and of digital communication in terms of identity negotiation, demonstrating how these ‘technologies of the self’ work together. The role of digital platforms is central to this study, which is focussed on a decade that saw the internet transformed by streaming services, social media and a transition towards algorithmic content recommendation. Despite these developments, findings show that internet users continue to exercise considerable agency in their use of music in identity negotiation. The innovative and transformative use of platform affordances that intersect with and support users’ musical practice allows both audiences and artists to produce sophisticated, multifaceted and continually evolving representations of the self. For example, the platform-assisted construction and reflexive interpretation of media assemblages is used to negotiate emergent musical identities in a variety of contexts, enabled by the ‘post-scarcity’ media economy of the contemporary internet. Using a mix of qualitative research methods from netnography and ethnomusicology, this project develops our understanding of music’s role within internet culture and more broadly in the formation and negotiation of human identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 October 2023
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2023 10:25

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