Maarten Michielse: Rearticulating Sounds – Appropriating Popular Music Online (2011-2015)

Maarten Michielse: Rearticulating Sounds – Appropriating Popular Music Online

January 2011- January 2015
Maastricht University
Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Renée van de Vall (promotor), Dr. Karin Wenz

This project looks at how music enthusiasts appropriate popular music online by remixing, covering, and mashing-up popular songs and sharing these self-made products within online communities. The project uses a virtual ethnographic approach to look at how music enthusiasts produce their works, how they deploy, develop, and share all sorts of skills and competences, and how they use different tactics in order to be able to make these songs ‘their own’. While consumers always had the possibility to engage creatively with music, it is only since the last decade that the general availability of creative software and the networked computer has made it possible to produce, distribute, and share musical appropriations on a scale never seen before. Within the academic world, this process has often been framed in overarching theories such as “prosumption”, “participatory culture”,  or “read/write culture”. Although these frameworks help to understand the dynamic relationship between producers and consumers, they also bring along the risk of presenting participation as something that happens almost naturally and automatically. In other words: these theories make it easy to overlook the specific efforts, skills, and techniques consumers deploy in order to actually become producers. To gain a better understanding of these processes, this research project investigates the question: How do music enthusiasts appropriate popular music online and how do they share, develop, and discuss all sorts of musical and creative skills in the process?