At the 2016 Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference in Atlanta, I took part in a panel titled “Ancillary Media Industries: Businesses That Shape How We Produce, Sell, and Consume Media.” My paper, “Something On the Air,” argued for the necessity of film and media scholars to consider the industrial processes of pop music distribution (like radio formats) when considering the ways that music becomes culturally meaningful. An excerpt:
Once you start doing the research, it becomes clear: radio formats are more than just playlists, they are tools for producing the audience that is to be sold to advertisers. They are so important, in fact, that they influence the production and recording of new music, from songwriters and musicians to producers, engineers, and record executives.
All this is to say that when we listen to music—whether it’s in our earbuds, over the airwaves, or in a film—we’re not just hearing the song. We’re also hearing the industrial processes that helped to deliver and contextualize that song for us. It’s been thirty years since Tom Schatz’s The Genius of the System helped to articulate the ways that Classic Hollywood procedures of film production and distribution were themselves sites of meaning making, and have unto themselves a form of authorship. In our zeal to incorporate additional, ancillary, or adjacent texts into our analyses, we would do well to remember that we must also consider the industries that produce these texts, as well.
You can read the full remarks HERE and see my slides HERE.