“[Aesthetic standardization] is hidden behind a veneer of individual ‘effects’ whose prescriptions are handled as the experts’ secret, however open this secret may be to musicians generally” (438-9)
“Listening to popular music is manipulated not only by its promoters, but as it were, by the inherent nature of this music itself, into a system of response-mechanisms wholly antagonistic to theideal of individuality in a free, liberal society” (442)
Theodor Adorno, (2002) On popular music, Essays on Music.
Nowadays, who reads T. Adorno (1903-1969), except philosophy aggregators? This musicologist, who was also the famous “New music Philosophy “author Alban Berg’s student, was the avant-garde philosopher who put his discipline out from its aesthetic till first of all in order toconfront the music to several discoveries of sociology, but also to rub it against technique innovations and thirdly, to submit it to a rigorous phenomenological exam?
Throughout this analysis, three main axes are going to be treated. First of all, the effects and stakes in the Cultural Industry referred to Theodor Adorno’s theories. In several essays and books, Adorno deals with “theemancipation of the cultural public”, this notion of “public” will be the subject of a second part including a parallelism with the new concept of “amateurism”. Finally and less conceptual, we will deal with a modern tricky issue: Do the culture industries represent a threat for the culture itself? Indeed, this redefinition of the musical business industry includes several paradoxes a manager has toface in order to manage his/her artist or band.
I) The Cultural Industry: effects and stakes
Theodor Adorno denounced in a severe terms the cultural industry during a conference in 1963. Since, the cultural industry kept on increasing and T. Adorno’s texts is still as relevant as it was at that time. The text describes the effects of a society in which the politic, industry and commerce aredisguised as “cultural fact” in order to subjugate the public (mass public). In 1968, the idea of challenging the consumption society draw from enlightened philosophers analyses and were spread all over the society.
The term of “cultural industry” was first used in 1947. Sixty years later, it is omnipresent so much so that it became the subject of a weekly show on the French television titled“Mass Critic, the magazine of cultural industries”(France-Culture channel, all Saturdays) in which they contrast the Majors’ success with the powerful Google and its turnover as far as they envisaged cancelling the Culture Ministry as being the symbol of supreme liberation of arts and artists.
The principle elements of T. Adorno’s analysis in 1963 invite us to reflect about the distinction betweenpopular art and mass culture.
In the one hand, T. Adorno shows that popular art, the mass creation resulted from a society composed by individuals who create and share the art. It represents, a sort of original human artistic activity. In a critical view, we figure out that in the other hand, the cultural industry in which the individual is autonomous, is not the departure point anymoreneither a principle. The cultural industry creates products (under the label of “art”) in order to consume in mass.
In the first case, individual conscience is the initial subject, in the other individual conscience is denied and replaced by predetermined rules, according to a model or advertising slogans or images of “normality”.
T. Adorno also applied the idea the cultural industrysubjected the costumer instead of making him an autonomous and emancipated person. It seems like that in our late societies, cultural goods are not settled according to their content but according to their production and commercialization mode. This phenomenon aimed at yielding the invested amounts. The concept of culture obeys to humans, it arouses consciences, invites us to reflect and act, with...
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