Music Colloquium: Music streaming, algorithms, & emotional tension

Too much choice and too little time: Music streaming, algorithms, and the quest for emotional tension. The speaker is Dr Gary Sinclair (Dublin City University).


The digital disruption of the music recording industry of the early 2000s created much excitement because of the potential democratising and creative opportunities (for artists and consumers) that would seemingly arise as wounded major labels scrambled to fight against the digital tide. The medium of music consumption has fundamentally changed how we listen to music, providing easy and mobile access to an almost infinite amount of music. However, the major record labels have regained their power and new titans such as Spotify and Apple Music are fighting to monopolise a streaming market that increasingly yields a similar if not greater amount of power and influence over the type of music that the public is exposed to as the ‘majors’ had in their heyday.

This power is built on the efficiencies of big music consumer data and algorithmic machine learning and is impacting the type of music that is/will be created. If anything, this is just a more efficient version of the standardised ‘cultural industries’ that Adorno critiqued when the radio popularised jazz music. In my talk, drawing from qualitative data collected from music consumers, I will explore questions around marketplace control of music and its potential implications for the consumer and their relationship with music in the contemporary setting.

About the speaker

Gary Sinclair is a Lecturer in Marketing at Dublin City University. He specialises in consumer behaviour and has published in a variety of international journals such as Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics and Marketing Theory. He has recently guest edited (to be published in 2019) a special issue on music and marketing in digital age of reproduction for the European Journal of Marketing.

He has also written and presented on his research for media outside academia such as RTE and the Irish Times. Gary is the Programme Director for the Bsc in Business Studies International.