Week 2 / The Music Industries as Cultural IndustriesPresentation Transcript
+ The music industries as cultural industries John Williamson 16th January 2012
+ Today. . . Approaches to studying the music industries – where to start? Political Economy and the cultural industries. . . Problems of Definition: Cultural industries or creative industries? Which industries are cultural/ creative industries? Characteristics of the cultural industries Comparison with other cultural industries (film) Conclusions / How does this play out in the music industries?
+ Approaches to the music industries Continuing the quest for what Frith describes as ”an account of the contemporary music industry that is empirically accurate and theoretically instructive” (2000) Starting point: Majority of accounts based around the record companies as cultural industries, studied using approaches based on political economy.
+ Approaches to the music industries For example, as recently as 2007, Shuker was arguing that the recording industry was the dominant part of the „music industry‟ and that it was best studied as a cultural industry using political economy. Both of these are valid approaches – but need to be treated with caution and used in conjunction with other approaches to cultural industries to achieve the clarity Frith was seeking.
+ Approaches to the music industries: political economy Political economy = branch of economics that draws on Marxist tradition to describe contemporary capitalism, often mixing pure economics with elements of law and politics. Study often focuses around ownership of firms as well as their behaviour – monopolies, market protection, rent- seeking. Importance of moral dimension.
+ Approaches to the music industries: cultural and creative industries Cultural Industries (sometimes referred to as creative industries) are these which stem from the transition of art into industries – first described by Adorno and Horkheimer as „the culture industry‟ in 1944. Art/ culture previously viewed as “a form of critique of the rest of life” (Hesmondhalgh, 2007: 16) but turned into an industry under capitalism. Term first used officially by UNESCO in 1980 – creative industries part of economic regeneration strategies.
+ Emergence of the cultural industries These industries emerged during a transition within capitalism from what Amin describes as “mass production and consumption of standardised goods” to “markets based on flexible specialisation and niche markets” (1994: 19-20) These changes within capitalism have been described in different ways. Murdock talks of privatisation, liberalisation, corporatisation and re-orientation of regulatory regimes
+ Emergence of the cultural industries He further describes the emergence of new corporate actors, the casualisation of labour and where “pursuit of private interest takes precedence over commitment to the public good.” Lash and Urry describe this as “disorganised capitalism” which is made up of a combination of “disintegrated networks of small firms” with “a series of large transnational firms at the hub” (1994: 23) They also describe the emergence of entrepreneurs finding gaps in the market, helped by global finance system.
+ “Difficulties of definition” 2 major problems when talking about the cultural industries: Classification – which industries? Nomenclature – what to call them? O’Connor: definition of cultural industries = “contentious” (2000:17) Pratt: “study of the cultural industries has been stymied by poor definition and, concomitantly, poor information” (2007: 1)
+ Which are the cultural industries? Numerous attempts to identify and quantify the cultural industries – though this is always highly contested. These definitions and valuations come from governments, the industries themselves and academics and offer conflicting views / need to be treated with some caution. First academic studies were in the late eighties by the likes of Miège (1987) with more complete accounts emerging with Caves (2000) and Hesmondhalgh (2002).
+ Which are the cultural industries? List as many industries as you can which you consider qualify as cultural industries. (Most definitions stretch to between 10-15) Which are the most important and how would this be measured? Arguably, all industries are cultural or creative – what separates these ones?
+ Which are the cultural industries? 6 suggested models on handout: DCMS, Symbolic Texts, Concentric Circles, WIPO, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Americans for the Arts (see Throsby, 2008) all with varying contents and categories. Paper, clothing, toys and zoos are among the industries which fit some definitions of the cultural industries. Perhaps more limited / narrow models are more helpful
+ Which are the cultural industries? Throsby‟s concentric circles model of the cultural industries is perhaps the most useful: music, literature, performing arts and visual arts as the core creative arts. Only music, film and video are uncontested „core‟ cultural industries in the classifications studied by Throsby – but definitions are “essentially ad hoc.” Throsby tries to achieve equilibrium between economic and cultural factors in classifying cultural industries
+ Cultural Industries or Creative Industries This is also open to debate – the terms may or may not refer to the same thing. . . Governments and US academics often lean towards creative; European academics generally refer to the cultural industries. Cultural industries stems from Adorno and left-leaning views of culture; Creative Industries fits more comfortably with neo-liberal view.
+ Cultural Industries or Creative Industries In UK, previous government spoke of cultural industries when in opposition, but creative industries when in power. Creative allows a more flexible definition of what is contained: “help the claims about size and growth stand up” (Garnham 2005: 26) Also worth noting shift in government policy towards the arts from supporting cultural endeavour to investment in organisations and entrepreneurs with agreed outcomes.
+ Characteristics of the cultural industries Having argued about what the industries are and what to call them, it is important to note that music is always considered a cultural/ creative industry – that, at least, appears uncontested. So, how do we characterise these industries? Will draw primarily on the work of Miège, Hesmondhalgh and Caves.
+ Miège: characteristics of the cultural industries Miège was among the first to pluralise and attempt to explain the workings of the cultural industries. 5 competing and overlapping logics at work in the production of culture. Miège claims that they are identifiable by risk (spreading, taking, avoiding), flexible/ casual employment arrangements, gulf between stars and majority of workers; reliance of small companies on transnational corporations
+ Miège: Characteristics of the cultural industries Miège also talks of importance of intellectual property and the “hand to mouth” existence of many of those involved in the production of cultural goods.
+ Hesmondhalgh: characteristics of the cultural industries Hesmondhalgh (2002/7) describes the main characteristics of the cultural industries: Low success/ failure ratio (risk taking / misses offset by hits) Tensions between creativity and commerce High production costs, low reproduction costs Creation of (artificial) scarcity around cultural goods. (semi-public goods) Building a repertoires (misses offset against hits; accumulate IP) Concentration, Integration and Co-opting Publicity Formatting: Stars, Genres and Serials Loose control of symbol creators / tight control of distribution and marketing.
+ Caves and the Creative Industries / Contracts The approaches of Miège, Murdock, Hesmondhalgh, Garnham, O‟Connor etc. all rely to a great extent on political economy. However, major problem with political economy when applied to music industries is what Hesmondhalgh calls “lack of empirical attention to what happens in cultural industries‟ organisations” What Hesmondhalgh refers to as “neo-liberal” approaches may help resolve some of these issues
+ Caves and the Creative Industries / Contracts Caves (2000) draws heavily on contract theory and organisational studies to analyse the creative industries, which is also helpful in study of the music industries where the acquisition and sale of intellectual property rights is central to the business. Contracts: “the agreement that governs the conduct of any economic transaction” (11) BUT in creative industries these are extremely complex due to uncertainty of outcomes and number of parties involved.
+ Caves and the Creative Industries / Contracts Contractual problems stem from lack of patience or money to complete the agreements which cover all eventualities: “nothing resembling a complete contract ever emerges in practice.” (2000: 12) Caves see firms in the creative industries as “a nexus of contracts” (ibid: 15) between different parties: shareholders, management/ executives and workers. Recording contracts encounter “problems of opportunism as they run their course” (ibid: 65) Nature of contracts in music industries has changed in recent years: less formal arrangements; even more complex ones (360 degrees) and new participants (technology companies) and changing relationships between industries.
+ Caves and the creative industries Caves also describes the workers in the cultural industries as “essentially rational” – but unlike workers in other industries “who do not care about the traits and features of the products they turn out” – workers in the cultural industries care passionately. Caves also highlights the risky nature (“nobody knows”) and uncertain demand in creative industries as well as the distinction between owners and managers & continual change in the nature of the firms.
+ Some examples: the film industry Film industry has been largely without growth or profit in recent years Often discussed in terms of flexible specialisation / integration and disintegration in attempts to respond to technological changes. Dominated by a small number of major studios which are part of large entertainment conglomerates with almost complete lack of corporate profit.
+ Some examples: the film industry Most of these companies are listed on the Stock Exchange and are accountable to shareholders: “shareholder value is perceived to be the principal objective” (Leaver 2010: 455) Leaver describes this as a “malleable rhetoric that sets managers on a utopian quest for value” (ibid) and a strategy of “perpetual restructuring” (ibid) Most stock market analysts consider film industry to be a failed business model yielding low/ no profit.
+ Some examples: the film industry Leaver argues 3 reasons for lack of profitability: Inability to control the cost of stars, but they are needed for box office success. Demand constraints – limit to how much the firms can expand (making less films) Pricing constraints – limit to what audiences will pay for the product. On average film, “talent” costs amount to 65% of total budget: Travolta post-Pulp Fiction averages $13.7m per film.
+ Some examples: the film industry Also value-skimming by executives: Froud et al (2006) talk of how “CEOs and others with key structural positions can take a slice of a large income stream to generate huge salaries without having a major impact on other stakeholders.” Leaver: film industry as allegory for modern capitalism where there is “disconnect between what the capital market demands and what the product market can deliver, which intensifies the process of restructuring for no discernable improvement in corporate growth or ratios” (2010: 476)
+ Conclusions / Questions These changes in the music business, particularly since 1999, make a strong argument for describing them as a series of related music industries (recording, live and publishing) which operate along the same lines as some of the other cultural industries. This is often based on the exchange of copyright / intellectual property rights. However, it is important to extend this line of analysis to include detailed study of the individual companies within the industries and the individual managers / entrepreneurs within them.
+ Conclusions / Questions Subsequent weeks will investigate the nature of the firms and transactions within the music industries with regards copyright and “perpetual restructuring” of the companies involved in them. From your knowledge of the music industries, which of the traits of the cultural industries discussed today do you consider most applicable to them?