The Role of Participatory Media in Aesthetic Taste Formation
With the advent of participatory culture in the digital era, an alternative mode of marketing and promoting music online has expanded greatly over the past few years. Websites, such as myspace.com, musicfreedom.com, sonicbid.com, and youtube.com, have blurred the boundaries between the producers and the consumers of culture, between the creator and the audience. This phenomenon has allowed not only the rise of non-professional artistic goods, but also the increase in the visibility of ubiquitous artistic commodities (Jenkins, 2003, p. 287). Regardless of this outlet’s contribution to the subversion of mainstream media, the everyday use of participatory media has undoubtedly brought forth a new type of aestheticism, thus reinventing the binary model illustrated by Adorno and Horkheimer (1944). This paper examines the role of participatory media in the formation of popular taste in mainstream society. By conducting a virtual ethnographic study of the newly emerging musical artists’ commentary section of youtube.com, this research aims to create a new understanding of how the participants of youtube.com impact the manner in which newly emerging artists further their careers and visibility on the web. Thus, this research focuses on the three areas of inquiries: 1) How do the participants of youtube.com express their penchants for newly emerging independent artists? 2) How does the comparison of new artists to established ones appear in the comment section? 3) How do the participants discuss the standards for and the judgment of taste in regards to a particular artist’s performance? This paper will strive to gauge the effectiveness of participatory media, such as youtube.com, by applying the notion of the internet as a “contested terrain” (Kellner, 2004). The overarching objective of this paper is to depict the processes involved in the formation of aesthetic taste in virtual communities.
Keywords: Participatory Media, Virtual Community, Judgment of Taste, Aesthetic Formation, Music Performances in New Media
Hiesun Cecilia Suhr
Ph.D. student, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers University