THE MERGING OF MUSIC CRITICISM AND MUSIC PROMOTION: CONVERGED MUSIC INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ON FACEBOOK
Keywords:music industry, music criticism, Facebook, music promotion, Estonia
This paper explores the changing socio-cultural dynamic between local music entrepreneurs and journalists/critics on Facebook in Estonia. Through the analysis of 32 semi-structured interviews with music industry professionals and experts and observations of their activities on Facebook, the study identifies the decreasing distance between music criticism and music promotion. On the one hand, the music critics once envisioned as ‘autonomous gatekeepers’ (Hirsch, 1972) find it increasingly hard to transfer their musical authority, expertise and perceived independence to the commercially driven social media environment. As a result, some of them have taken up entrepreneurship themselves, converged their various identities by mixing their critical/evaluative practices as critics and business-oriented practices as entrepreneurs. On the other hand, some niche music entrepreneurs are stepping into the role of cultural authorities by mobilizing and catering to specific taste cultures and genre communities by becoming expert gatekeepers in their own right, despite being compromised by their business interest. In this context, it is no more useful to talk about the ‘mutual dependency’ of the music press and industry PR (Forde, 2001; Negus, 1992). Rather, among the tightly interwoven music scenes like the ones in Estonia, where many players adopt a variety of different and often conflicting roles (especially on Facebook), we should recognize the complete convergence of music promotion and music criticism and the loss of critical distance and autonomy altogether.