Book: Trajectories and Themes in World Popular Music
Chapter: Neoliberalism and the Global Music Industry
Chapter 2 moves on to the phase of neoliberalism that began in the 1970s. The 1980s marked a new, most recent era and regime of globalization, which was driven by the emergence of new technologies, the “truly” global reach of transnational corporations, and the evolution of neoliberal capitalism. This period is marked by more intense globalizing tendencies, intensified musical commodification and cultural homogenization, and the consolidation of neoliberal capitalism in major industrial economies. The structures and workings of the global music industry illustrate this, dominated by the growth of transnational music corporations and their expansionist strategy in the name of corporate capitalism. Much academic thinking during the 1970s and 1980s was dominated by the idea of cultural imperialism, drawing neo-Gramscian conclusions about the resultant musical diversity, or lack thereof. The 1980s also marked a shift toward a global preoccupation with “image” (notably on Music Television) and the sexualized female form that serves to objectify women. Concepts in feminist media analyses like the “male gaze” and “controlling images” became powerful tools for analyzing and critiquing traditional white supremacist patriarchy, including the representation of black women and femininities. In considering the politics of othering in neoliberal culture, chapter 2 also highlights the way that racist identity constructions still reverberated throughout this phase. Since the early 1990s, academic thinking gradually moved toward explanations of globalizing trends through the lens of hybridization, conceptualized through the idea of “expressive isomorphism”. We now live in a world marked by global cultural interconnectedness, cultural hybridization, and musical participation, through which the global becomes received in new and different ways in different locales.