Social media have transformed relationships between those who create artistic work and those who enjoy it. Culture industries such as the music recording business have been left reeling as fans have gained the ability to distribute amongst themselves and artists have gained the ability to bypass traditional gatekeepers such as labels. The dominant rhetoric has been of ‘piracy,’ yet there are other tales to tell. How does direct access to fans change what it means to be an artist? What rewards are there that weren’t before? How are relational lines between fans and friends blurred and with what consequences? What new challenges other than making a living do artists face?
Nancy Baym is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England. She is the author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age (Polity), Internet Inquiry (co-edited with Annette Markham, Sage) and Tune In, Log On: Soaps, Fandom and Online Community (Sage). For the last two years she has been interviewing musicians about their relationships with audiences.