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Show me love: Emergent strategic communication practices and fan engagement within the popular music industry
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1439-2784
2023 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis studies how the music industry’s strategic communication practices interplay with and steer audience and fan engagement. Relationships with, and expectations on, “active”, “prosuming” or “co-creative” music audiences make it imperative for communication practitioners to produce engagement. The music industry has adapted its promotional strategies accordingly, and data-driven processes and algorithms have become ever more central to understanding and controlling audience practices. Currently, we are witnessing the emergence of new strategic communication approaches to follow, foster, steer, track and commodify audience engagement, via big data. Applying qualitative and ethnographic approaches and socio-cultural perspectives, the thesis explores how strategic communication practices are enacted and designed to cater for, interplay with and steer fan engagement. Drawing on practice and structuration theory, critical questions are asked about the social consequences of communication engagement and an engagement imperative – for both individuals and organisations involved in the strategic communication around a music brand.  Results indicate that the contemporary, digitalised music industry demands communication practices that are at the same time strategic, professionalised, agile and co-creative. The study highlights important implications of such practices, in terms of changing professional competences and ethics as well as context-specific articulations of the power relations that support and are (re-)produced through the engagement imperative. In sum, the thesis is aimed at extending our understanding of how strategic communication practices respond to, and change in, a seemingly liquid, yet at the same time carefully orchestrated, communicative context. 

Abstract [en]

For the music industry, audiences’ engagement around music artists is central to building and communicating artist brands. Currently, we are witnessing new communication approaches to track, foster and commodify audience engagement, partly via data-driven processes. This thesis studies how the music industry’s strategic communication practices interplay with and steer audience and fan engagement.

The thesis applies qualitative and ethnographic approaches and socio-cultural perspectives. Drawing on practice and structuration theory, critical questions are asked about the social consequences of communication engagement and an engagement imperative – for both individuals and organisations. Results indicate that the contemporary, digitalised music industry demands communication practices that are at the same time strategic, professionalised, emergent, agile and co-creative. The study highlights implications of such practices, in terms of changing professional competences, ethics and power relations that support and are (re-) produced through the engagement imperative. In sum, the thesis is aimed at extending our understanding of how strategic communication practices respond to, and change in, a seemingly liquid, yet at the same time carefully orchestrated, communicative context. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2023. , p. 144
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2023:31
Keywords [en]
agility, audience engagement, branding, co-creation, communication management, engagement, fandom, liquid, music industry, participation, practice theory, strategic communication, structuration theory
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-97176ISBN: 978-91-7867-412-1 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7867-413-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-97176DiVA, id: diva2:1806770
Public defence
2023-12-04, Geijersalen, 12A 138, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Interreg Sweden-NorwayAvailable from: 2023-11-14 Created: 2023-10-23 Last updated: 2023-11-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Commodifying participation through choreographed engagement: the Taylor Swift case
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Commodifying participation through choreographed engagement: the Taylor Swift case
2023 (English)In: Arts and the Market, ISSN 2056-4945, Vol. 13, no 2, p. 65-79Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose– This article examines the ways in which the popular music industry markets artists through integrated transmedia marketing campaigns. These campaigns unfold across multiple media and create multiple pathways for audience engagement, particularly fan engagement, across social media platforms. The purpose is to further theorise the relationship between artists, the music industry and audiences.

Design/methodology/approach– The study used digital ethnography to scrutinise the activities within a contemporary music transmedia marketing campaign, focusing on the release of Taylor Swift’s album Reputation as an illustrative case.

Findings– The study demonstrates how strategically curated activities encompass platforms’ affordances and industry events by making use of fan engagement across social media platforms and streaming services. Fans shift through platforms, as well as across digital and physical spaces, through defined marketing activities at specific times. This article proposes the concept of choreographed engagement to specifically address the ways in which the temporal and spatial aspects of social media marketing are used at the intersection of platform logic, algorithm economy and fan engagement to reach wider audiences.

Originality/value– By proposing the concept of choreographed engagement, the authors bridge the gap between fan practices and marketing practices, providing insight into how commodification of fan engagement is utilised spatially and temporally within the contemporary platform economy. Choreographed engagement constitutes a significant aspect of strategic communication and marketing. The term expands the vocabulary used in the debate on the commodification of artistic work, and audience engagement in the platform era

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2023
Keywords
Algorithm economy, Audience engagement, Commodification, Fans, Music industry, Strategic communication, Transmedia marketing
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-93062 (URN)10.1108/aam-07-2022-0034 (DOI)000913631900001 ()2-s2.0-85165132062 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Music ecosystems (MECO)
Funder
Interreg Sweden-NorwayEuropean Commission
Available from: 2023-01-24 Created: 2023-01-24 Last updated: 2023-10-23Bibliographically approved
2. Agile, cocreative and data-driven: Multifaceted and emerging strategic communication practices within the music industry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Agile, cocreative and data-driven: Multifaceted and emerging strategic communication practices within the music industry
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-97373 (URN)
Available from: 2023-11-14 Created: 2023-11-14 Last updated: 2023-11-14Bibliographically approved
3. Hang with Me—Exploring Fandom, Brandom, and the Experiences and Motivations for Value Co-Creation in a Music Fan Community
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hang with Me—Exploring Fandom, Brandom, and the Experiences and Motivations for Value Co-Creation in a Music Fan Community
2021 (English)In: International Journal of Music Business Research, E-ISSN 2227-5789, Vol. 10, no 1, p. 17-31Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Active and co-creative audiences are sought, used, tracked and taken for granted in the quest for strong music brands. Fan communities are co-opted to build value for brands and used to foster communication in transmedia marketing campaigns. However, when focusing on audiences and fans’ digital media activities, digital traces and numbers, important questions of motivations, expectations, experiences, morals and power structures are often overlooked. Drawing on a digital ethnographic study and an interdisciplinary perspective, we investigate a fan community of the Swedish artist Robyn, both online and offline. The article contributes to the concepts of fandom and brandom and the notion of value. It also adds to the knowledge about the perspective of fans and fans’ motivations for taking part and co-creating value in a highly commercialised and strategised music market.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Warsaw: De Gruyter Open, 2021
Keywords
fandom, brand community, brandom, value co-creation, music industry
National Category
Economics and Business
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies; Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-84059 (URN)10.2478/ijmbr-2021-0003 (DOI)
Funder
Interreg Sweden-Norway
Available from: 2021-05-26 Created: 2021-05-26 Last updated: 2023-10-23Bibliographically approved
4. The Engagement Imperative: Experiences of Communication Practitioners’ Brand Work in the Music Industry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Engagement Imperative: Experiences of Communication Practitioners’ Brand Work in the Music Industry
2022 (English)In: Media and Communication, E-ISSN 2183-2439, Vol. 10, no 1, p. 66-76Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Due to societal trends, such as digitalisation, platformisation, and active and co-creative audiences, new organisational practices have surfaced. This study examines how communication practitioners experience their changing work in a new communication environment in which participatory cultural norms are becoming standard in strategic communication. I argue that the requirements to produce audience engagement affect the communication work and the communication workers. This study uses the popular music industry as a case, and is based on interviews with communication practitioners as well as on the qualitative text analysis of reports and newsletters from the music marketing firm Music Ally to the music industry. The study shows that communication practitioners within the industry experience a duty to create audience engagement-an engagement imperative. Although the practitioners are highly skilled in digital communication and social media, they often see the development of digital promotional culture as a challenge and express a lack of a deeper understanding of engagement. This study highlights implications for their professional roles, competences, and identities as well as ethical implications regarding the exploitation of audiences in communication work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lisbon: Cogitatio, 2022
Keywords
audience engagement, communication management, communication practitioner, engagement imperative, ethics, media work, music industry, participatory culture, strategic communication
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-88131 (URN)10.17645/mac.v10i1.4448 (DOI)000746066800007 ()2-s2.0-85122982875 (Scopus ID)
Projects
MECO – Music Eco-systems Inner Scandinavia
Funder
Interreg Sweden-Norway
Available from: 2022-01-20 Created: 2022-01-20 Last updated: 2023-10-23Bibliographically approved
5. Authenticity and Digital Popular Music Brands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Authenticity and Digital Popular Music Brands
2020 (English)In: Popular Music, Technology, and the Changing Media Ecosystem / [ed] T Tofalvy; E Barna, Springer Nature, 2020Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The question of what is real in social media is highly relevant today. Authenticity is a key concept that is used in many different aspects, as something that comes across as being trustworthy, but also as a strategic tool in order to create relationships with the audience and a “feeling of true.” This chapter investigates the concept of authenticity in popular music—how authenticity is manifested and created, if it is created, on social platforms regarding music brands. The music industry is both highly branded, commercial, and creative and heterogeneous. The communication on digital platforms is getting more alike, regardless of level of independence, professionalism and artistic integrity. At the same time the audience has expectations of music artist relating to genre and image, that not always match the strategic music brand building. Does this strategy focus make authenticity hollow and vulnerable?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature, 2020
Keywords
authenticity, brand, marketing, music industry, strategic communication
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-85606 (URN)10.1007/978-3-030-44659-8_8 (DOI)
Funder
Interreg Sweden-Norway
Available from: 2021-08-09 Created: 2021-08-09 Last updated: 2023-10-23Bibliographically approved

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