Detective Work

A closer look at popular culture and communication

“We’re All in the Fashion Business”

Andrew Goodwin‘s section on Performance as Promotion led me to begin thinking about the implications for the music industry due to the rise of video sharing sites such as YouTube. I feel this is relevant to popular culture since the user is given the power to choose which songs and videos he or she would like to consume. We can type in a song in the search bar and within mere seconds be flooded videos featuring the desired song, user generated videos, remixes, related songs, more from the artist, and other links.



I remember when I would tune into The Border’s Hot Five at Five as a means of hearing new releases and source of further increasing my musical enlightenment. I would have to wait and listen for a song I liked to come on. The thought of actually calling a radio and requesting a tune will surely be ludicrous to future generations!


The music industry is described as one that is “mulitextual”. It sells more than one type of media for a particular product. Music sells commodity and ideas. As explained by Goodwin, commodity comes in the form of cassettes, records, and compact disks (p. 26). On the other hand, ideas come in the form of lifestyle and live performance. It also acts as a gateway into other forms of media such as television shows, comic books, magazine articles, ECT. This is where music videos would come into play. But what happens when online sharing sites such as YouTube allow us to obtain song clips, music videos, and live concerts for virtually nothing and at our own convenience?


Word on Wall Street is that record sales continue to plummet. This begs the question, what does the music industry need to do to adapt to the digital age?




“We’re all in the fashion business. You used to be able to sell records purely on music and musicianship. Now it’s packaging, media, television and video” (Goodwin p. 27).


YouTube is forcing both television and radio to further adapt in order to compete in the competition for audiences. Music industries can create innovative and exciting videos as part of the “package”, yet users can obtain access to many of them simply by surfing these websites due to user uploading. Will artists have to resort to Mariah Carey and Britney Spears tactics, in which both stars use product placement directly within their videos to promote their new fragrance lines?


Warner Bros. is one of many media companies who are undoubtedly facing a decrease in commodity sales, as they continue to alienate YouTube users who feature clips of their music, by claiming copyright infringement and taking legal action.


The music industry is one that has been around for ages and is evidentially very adaptable. It will be interesting to see how the transition to new media in popular culture will take place.



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