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Popular Music, Digital Technology and Society

Popular Music, Digital Technology and Society

April 2018 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

From shifts in format, through the effects on circulation and ownership, to the rise of digitally-produced genres, the ways we create, share and listen to music have changed fundamentally. In Popular Music, Digital Technology and Society, Nick Prior explores the social, cultural and industrial contexts in which these shifts have taken place. Both accessible and authoritative, the book:

  • Clarifies key concepts such as assemblage, affordance, mediation and musicking and defines new concepts such as playsumption and digital vocalities
  • Considers the impact of music production technologies such as MIDI, sampling, personal computing and smartphone apps
  • Looks at the ways in which the internet shapes musical consumption, from viral marketing to streaming services
  • Examines the effects of mobile audio devices on everyday social interactions
  • Opens up new ways to think and write about the personal experience of making and performing digital music

This book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to understand the place of popular music in contemporary culture and society. It will be fascinating reading for students and researchers across media and communication studies, sociology, cultural studies and the creative industries. 


Chapter 1 Introduction: Popular Music, Technology and Society
Chapter 2 After the Orgy: The Internet and Popular Music Consumption
Chapter 3 Apps, Laps and Infinite Tracks: Digital Music Production
Chapter 4 From Iron Cage to Digital Bubble? Mobile Listening Devices and the City
Chapter 5 Vox Pop: Exploring Electronic and Digital Vocalities
Chapter 6 Playsumption: Music and Games
Chapter 7 Afterword: Digitus

Eloquent and informed, this book reveals the deeply complex relations between music and new types of digital and networked technologies. It will transform our understanding of popular music today.

David Beer
University of York

Brimming with analytical insights from sociology and cultural studies, this is an indispensable guide through the world of digital music and its bewildering array of technologies.

Trevor J Pinch
Cornell University

An excellent book. Nick Prior weaves together insights from a diverse array of contemporary social theories to help make sense of the sprawling reality of today's digital music worlds. That he does this in such an accessible style is to be warmly applauded.

Lee Marshall
University of Bristol
Key features

Need 1: Digital technologies have transformed the way popular music is produced and consumed. Those seeking to understand the place of popular music in contemporary culture and society must engage with the part played by digital technologies.

Benefit 1: This book sets out to sharpen its readers’ understanding of the configuration of the relationship between music and technology and introduces them to the central debates that have arisen from it.

Need 2: Studying culture – and particularly popular music – should be dynamic and interesting, yet the heavy theoretical material in the field can, in and of itself, sometimes be quite difficult and dry. Readers need to be shown how to apply theory to examples that they can relate to and be enthused by.

Benefit 2: The text is packed full of relatable examples – of artists, technologies and notable trends/events – that really bring the conceptual material to life.

Need 3: The intersection of popular music/digital media is a busy one that features a lot of overly academic works. Scholars and students seeking to understand and research this area require clear, application of cultural-sociological concepts to the subject matter.

Benefit 3: The simplicity and clarity of the writing is a big selling point here. The author eschews the jargon and academese that so often blights texts in this field and presents the core concepts in an elegant and easy-to-understand fashion.

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