MEDIT Seminar: First Week is Editorial, Second Week is Algorithmical – the New Gatekeepers of the Music Industry

Speaker: Tiziano Bonini (University of Siena)
Time: May 18, 15:30-17:00
Place: M-213


The aim of this seminar is to investigate the current forms of mediation of pop music and what role they play in the contemporary music industry. In particular we deal with those forms of intermediation that are at the basis of the recommender system of music streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Shazam.

These intermediaries are not just the algorithms developed by these companies, which for Pasquale (2015) represent the foundation of what he calls the Black Box Society, but also the people who work on the design, maintenance and continuous fine-tuning of these algorithms. In this paper we have therefore tried to focus, with an ethnographic approach, the emerging key figures in the mediation of pop music, what we call the "new gatekeepers" of the music industry. The circulation of music industry products has always been influenced by intermediaries such as radio, music programmers, music journalists, music shops, but today we see a new class of gatekeepers emerge, both human and non-human: those who work for music streaming platforms (interaction designers, data scientists, music curators, marketing managers), alongside the algorithms they have developed. The study of gatekeepers has a long tradition in media studies (Lewin 1947; White 1950). The technological, cultural and social filters that determined the editorial choices made in the newsrooms of newspapers and television channels have long been investigated and brought to light by classical studies (Tuchman 1978, Gans 1979), while the newsrooms of the new digital companies remain mostly unexplored, due to the many difficulties in accessing the research field (Seaver 2017, Fleischer & Snickars 2017).

About the speaker

Tiziano Bonini (1977) is Assistant Professor in Media Sociology and teaches Mass Communication Theories and Sociology of Communication at the Department of Social, Political and Cognitive Sciences, University of Siena. He holds a PhD (2008, University of Siena) in Media, Communication and Public Sphere, with a research on the way migrants employ media to “feel at home” and re-connect with their domestic public spheres. Dr. Bonini's research focuses on the relationship between media and society, with a specific focus on radio and digital media; other research issues are public service media; social media studies; audience studies; media, public sphere and migration.

Dr. Bonini has been visiting scholar at London UCL and visiting researcher at the Department of Digital Humanities, at King’s College, London. His articles have been published by The European Journal of Communication; Media, Culture & Society; European Journal of Cultural Studies; Information, Communication & Technology; International Journal of Media Management; First Monday. He edited the volume of the ECREA series "Radio Audiences and Participation in the Age of Network Society" (London, Routledge, 2015)

Add a comment

Email again: