Have you Heard this One Yet? Ver. 2.0: Music Recommendation Sites and the Self
The music world has seen much change through the digitisation of music and the subsequent distribution methods held therein. Peer sharing has long been an important source of new music and even into the digital age this occurs, but has been altered amidst the new technological era. The move into the virtual world, where peer-to-peer (P2P) networks are commonplace, has recently spurred larger interests to make finding new music and exploring new musical genres or artists into a very creative and technologically impressive platform. Online ‘music recommendation sites’ such as Pandora Radio or Apple’s iTunes Music Store, serve the function of suggesting and potentially playing new music for users or to instead group songs that the user may or may not already be familiar with, into a playlist of songs thematically or temporally related. The auspices under which these sites are borne differ, where some are created in order to sell directly to the consumer/user, some indirectly off commission from online retailers, and still others as an offshoot function of a service previously provided. What these sites do have in common is that they play a part in the way that users interact with music, an important facet in identity formation amongst youth. This paper will explore the relationship between the music recommendation sites and their users, via the structure and usage of the user profile by both the listener and the platform itself in order to show linkages between technology and identity. The dialogic relationship between the user and platform via the user profile veils the highly structured nature of the platform itself, generally hailed as a prime example of Web 2.0 capabilities. Where user interactivity is high, these sites actually limit creative propensities as well as freedom of choice, funneling users into discreet categories with corresponding identities.
Keywords: Technology, Identity, Music, Web 2.0, Human-Technology Interaction
M.R. Curwen Reed
Graduate Student, Sociology Department, University of Victoria