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More Music is Better Music

by Pelle Snickars. 2016. Business Innovation and Disruption in the Music Industry (eds.) Patrik Wikström & Robert DeFillippi. London: Edgar Elgar.


One of the core motives underlying the disruption process within the music industry during the last two decades has been the establishment of vast online music archives— that is, databases of easily accessible content. In this article, I will make the claim that throughout recent digital shifts and changes more music has been a recurring lead metaphor and marketing strategy for the music industry and symbiotic pop-up services, all eager to distribute a never ending tail of tracks. However, I will refrain from discussing corresponding tendencies from a listener perspective, as for example algorithmic and personalized music curation. What interests me are instead the ways in which swelling musical databases at streaming services are—or can potentially be— undermined or even subverted, either in computational form or via ingenious human actions. In essence, I argue that more music doesn’t necessarily mean better music as most marketing hype would have it. On the contrary, through different aggregators, content at streaming services and platforms are today semi-open to (sometimes) contradictory forms of automated music, bot logics, fake listeners and likes, various proxy deceits, piracy and even hacks.