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3- “Algorithm Killed the Internet Star: Platform Capitalism and Popular Music” - Kristopher R. K. Ohlendorf, independent scholar

1:30 PM, Friday 24 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)

The rise of platform capitalism in the past decade has had a transformative effect on the development of popular music culture. It has become a necessity for emerging popular music artists to utilize major online platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify as a means to promote their music and image, with much of their success being attributed to the size of their followings, views, and streaming numbers online. The tech companies who run these platforms, in turn, heavily benefit from popular music artists using their platforms to bring in users for revenue.

This reliance on online platforms has caused popular music culture to evolve in a way that best suits content algorithms. Artist’s images are curated for Instagram, their rhetoric for Twitter, music videos are made to go viral, and songs are built for streaming. This has caused power to shift away from labels controlling an artist’s identity and music, and it now rests in the hands of multi-billion dollar tech companies who have the ability to change their content algorithms on-whim and effectively shift the direction of popular music culture.

This paper explores instances of popular music content on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify to better understand the ways in which popular music culture is shaped by the confines of platform capitalism, and to recognize the extent to which these tech companies hold power over the development of popular music.
Independent Scholar
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