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Project type/Form of grant
Grant for employment or scholarship
Title [sv]
Ljud, affekt och kvinnlig subjektivitet i strömmad musik
Title [en]
Feeling ourselves? Sound, affect and female subjectivity in music streaming
Abstract [en]
With 299 million active users, the Swedish company Spotify is one of the biggest music streaming services today. A decennial report released in 2019 revealed a salient gender gap in Spotify’s most streamed artists, with only one female pop star ranking in the top five. The data discounts earlier notions of music streaming as a democratizing force in the music industry and demands critical examination of how Spotify’s operational logics configure gender. The purpose of this project is to intervene within this field at the level of sound. It investigates how Spotify utilizes music as a functional affective device, shaping, in the process, ideas about female subjectivity. The study conducts music and textual analysis of playlists categorized around the mood-based descriptors happiness, sadness, and chill, which hold a central position in Spotify’s current interface. It elucidates in particular how affect and algorithms work as organizing devices that configure female subjectivity through sonic-affective contours. These results are subsequently juxtaposed with broader aesthetic developments in postmillennial pop music through music and discourse analysis to theorize the co-formations and disparities between sonic formations of gender promoted on Spotify and in pop music at large. The project contributes a crucial critical analysis of one of today’s most powerful digital media companies by intervening at its as of yet undertheorized intersections of sound, affect, and gender.
Publications (1 of 1) Show all publications
Muchitsch, V. & Werner, A. (2024). The Mediation of Genre, Identity, and Difference in Contemporary (Popular) Music Streaming. Twentieth Century Music, 1-27
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Mediation of Genre, Identity, and Difference in Contemporary (Popular) Music Streaming
2024 (English)In: Twentieth Century Music, ISSN 1478-5722, E-ISSN 1478-5730, p. 1-27Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Music streaming service Spotify has recently declared that genre is becoming less important in popular music culture, linking this idea to post-identity claims. In contrast, the central argument of this article is that genre continues to matter in music streaming, where algorithmic recommendation systems remediate genre and its association with constructions of identity and difference. We examine Spotify's mediation of genre through a multimodal discourse analysis of genre metadata as presented on the website Every Noise at Once, playlist curation, and media discourse. Analysing the genres bubblegrunge and rap français (French rap), we show that the algorithmic and human processes of Spotify and its users rearticulate genre, shaping, in turn, patterns of recommendation, curation, and consumption. These processes remediate earlier constructions of identity, temporality, and place in music culture. Simultaneously, they intensify differentiation and individuation, tying in with postulations of multiplicity and diversity in neoliberalism that conceal power imbalances.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2024
National Category
Humanities and the Arts Social Sciences
Research subject
Critical and Cultural Theory
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-53559 (URN)10.1017/s1478572223000270 (DOI)001162043000001 ()
Swedish Research Council, 2020-06449
Available from: 2024-02-16 Created: 2024-02-16 Last updated: 2024-03-15Bibliographically approved
Principal InvestigatorMuchitsch, Veronika
Coordinating organisation
Södertörn University
2021-01-01 - 2023-12-31
National Category
Gender StudiesMusicology
DiVA, id: project:2533Project, id: 2020-06449_VR

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