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Title: Authenticity and the commodity : physical music media and the independent music marketplace
Author: Bowsher, Andrew John
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 6557
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the circulation of physical music media (78rpm records, LPs, CDs, tape) in the independent music marketplace. It is based on six months of ethnographic fieldwork in Austin, Texas, amongst the producers of goods for the independent marketplace, independent music stores and consumers of these goods and services. Against prevailing constructivist interpretations, I will argue for the value of authenticity as an analytical anthropological concept because it unites what my research participants value about materiality, technology, and marketplace relationships. In the independent marketplace for physical music media, authenticity is a multi-local, multi-vocal phenomenon. A nexus of economic rationales, design, reproduction-technologies, histories and personal conduct interact in an ongoing process that authenticates music commodities and their marketplace. This means that particular commodities are sought out over others on account of the multi-local authenticities they anchor. The thesis firstly demonstrates how the independent music scene safeguards claims to authentic identities by constructing an opposition to the mainstream, drawing on discourses of ethical production and consumption, sound technologies, spaces of consumption and cultural production. Secondly, I will uncover how physical music media and sound-reproduction technologies are assessed as effective providers of authentic musical reproductions according to their historical contingencies and performative material capacities. Thirdly, I develop the notion of the scene (Shank 1994) from its previously genre-fixed perspective to encompass multiple musical styles operating within a common social network of producers, retailers and collectors. The pluralistic scene I describe utilises multiple musical genres and nuanced notions of materiality and authenticity to establish their complex hierarchy of sonic and technological experiences.
Supervisor: Daniels, Inge Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Music ; Anthropology ; Material anthropology ; Social anthropology ; popular music ; collecting ; sound recording ; sound technology ; consumption ; culture industries ; material culture ; ethnomusicology ; Austin ; Texas ; ethnography ; music industry ; materiality