Sanghwa Lee | PlatforMuse: Korean musicians’ identity and working conditions within the dynamics of the platformization of music

Sanghwa Lee | PlatforMuse: Korean musicians’ identity and working conditions within the dynamics of the platformization of music | Promotor(es); supervisor(s) : Marianne Franklin, Seonok, Lee / Robert Prey | September 2023 – July 2028 | s.h.lee@rug.nl 

This project offers the first global analysis of how platforms are shaping – and being shaped by – the creative practices and working experiences of Korean music artists.

It has been well established that the cultural industries (television, film, music, publishing, gaming etc.) require academic attention not only for their economic clout, but for the influence they exert on shaping our knowledge and experiences of the world we live in (Hesmondhalgh, 2019). The importance of these industries in ‘the production of social meaning’, also directs our attention to the creative workers and cultural producers who work in these industries.

Music provides an ideal lens to examine platformization for a number of reasons. YouTube, Spotify and other social media and streaming services are among the first platforms to enter into the lives of children. As we grow older music platforms become deeply embedded within our most intimate and personal experiences (Eriksson & Johansson, 2017). Yet, we know very little about how the music artists we let into our lives are being impacted by the platforms they – and we – depend upon. Much more than a purely technological process, platformization is a deeply cultural and social phenomenon that needs to be situated within national histories, economic structures and cultural configurations of local music industries and tech sectors. We have a major blind spot however when it comes to understanding the platformization of cultural sectors beyond Europe and North America.

To address this blind spot this project focuses on music artists as they experience and respond to music platforms in South Korea. Through an innovative follow-the-artist approach that examines the rapidly changing music platform ecosystem as it is experienced and understood by music artists, over time and across distinct music cultures and systems, this project provides much-needed insight into both the cultural dynamics of platformization and the impacts of platformization on culture.