UC San Diego's Department of Music

November 19, 2012

  Author and UC Los Angeles Prof. Timothy D. Taylor visits the department of music on November 20 to talk about his research examining the impact of today's capitalism on music.

Taylor's talk takes place from 4 pm to 6 pm in Room 231 at Conrad Prebys Music Center.

While capitalism has been dominant for centuries in the west, apart from the work of Theodor Adorno and a smattering of others, it has seldom been studied in any thoroughgoing way with respect to music. Taylor's presentation examines the latest phase of capitalism and its ramifications for the production and consumption of music.

Neoliberal ideologies and policies have dramatically altered the landscape of the production, distribution, and consumption of music in the last few decades. Record labels, advertising agencies, music production companies were bought and sold at unprecedented rates in the 1980s and 1990s. The economic bottom line became all-important. In a never-ending quest to wring profits from music, marketing and branding have become central.

While some musicians for centuries have been masters of self-promotion, in the new capitalism, the importance of marketing has grown to the extent that some musicians not only attempt to link themselves with major brands in advertising, but attach themselves to major brands in attempts to brand (or co-brand) themselves. The ideology of the genius has largely given way to an ideology of the star, or star-as-brand: the advertising trade press routinely and unironically refers to major musical celebrities and bands as brands. The genius is no longer someone who has risen to the top of a pool of talent, but a star who has risen to the top of a market.

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