Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour
Institutionalizing Authenticity in the Digitized World of Musicin Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Authors: Askin Noah
Since the arrival of mass production, questions regarding authenticity have been plaguing markets—none more so than that for music. At the core of the problem lies the commodification that accompanies mass production, which typically leaves products stripped of marks left by their maker and is the result of the separation of production and consumption in both space and time. It follows that commodification both requires the creation of institutions to organize markets and poses a significant challenge for those institutions because when artistic and economic value can no longer be ascertained prima facie, that evaluation process is driven by institutional arrangements and practices.Authenticity, seen as the rekindling of the relationship between isolated market participants, is therefore in its very essence an institutional achievement, providing guidance about artistic and economic value and keeping music from becoming a disposable good. Without the institutional practice of authentication, the isolated consumers, producers, and other market mediators are bereft of direct cues about value: what is worth consuming, and vice-versa, what is worth producing.This chapter explores authenticity as the institutional response to the commodification of music, which has accelerated with the rise of digitization and the Internet. Building upon the “Production of Culture” perspective, the authors unpack the commodification of music across five different institutional realms: 1) production, 2) consumption, 3) selection, 4) appropriation, and 5) classification. Subsequently, they describe how the digitization of music has affected each of these institutional realms and analyze how the practice of authentication has changed as a result.The authors aim to provide a thoroughly relational account of authenticity that captures how the challenges posed by commodification are overcome in the increasingly digitized world of music.