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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Vamsi Vakulabharanam

Second Advisor

Michael Ash

Third Advisor

Briankle Chang

Subject Categories

Audio Arts and Acoustics | Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication Technology and New Media | Economic Theory | Film and Media Studies | Industrial Organization | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Leisure Studies | Mass Communication | Other Economics | Other Music | Political Economy | Science and Technology Studies | Social Media


This dissertation investigates the relationships between capital, cultural production, and creative labor. Essay one theorizes the basis for the intensification of pop music stardom following the introduction of on-demand streaming technology. Prior to the emergence of on-demand streaming, record labels and broadcasters had a mutualistic relationship, wherein the near cost-free music provided by record labels formed the basis for radio broadcasts, which in turn formed the basis for the consumption of that music. Following the emergence of on-demand streaming the mutualistic relationship was ruptured. Broadcasters, in the form of streaming platforms, transitioned to the cost-efficient cultivation of masses of highly specific audiences rather than the cultivation of mass audiences that formed the basis for the earlier mutualistic relationship. In response to the increasingly competitive market for popular music, record labels transitioned from a strategy of cultivating new stars in anticipation of old stars fading to a strategy of preserving the stardom of existing stars. Essay two addresses the profitability crisis in the music recording industry in the early 2000s along with the restoration and growth of profits from 2004 on. It is show that record labels are knowledge-lords, a segment of rentier capital structured around the appropriation of monopoly rents from intellectual properties. Their status as rentier capital is contradictory in that prior to streaming they could only grant permanent access to commodities through the sale of physical and digital media. As a result, record labels were contingent on the development of new media formats to re-realize monopoly rents on already existing intellectual properties. Streaming resolves that contradiction by allowing record labels to issue time limited access to music via the pay-per-listen model in a near costless format. The final essay critically engages with Richard Florida’s Creative Class literature using quantitative methods and micro-level survey data. I find that the framework they use to evaluate occupational creativity is flawed in that it provides no clear basis for classification. I also find that the Creative Class as it’s constructed by Florida is not a coherent class in terms of creativity using data from O*NET’s Thinking Creatively metric.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, September 01, 2023