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Musimorphoses: On the future of music listening in the digital era

Posted: March 20th, 2015 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

International symposium, 11-12-13 November 2015, Paris, Telecom Paris Tech

With the spread of digital technology, all cultural practice is subject to reconfiguration. On the one hand, audiences can access a significantly higher amount of goods. On the other, the cost-free model and piracy practices have altered people’s willingness to pay. Likewise, the dematerialisation of contents tends to turn the data culture into a service culture. Finally, the abundant nature of repertoires provided to audiences triggered the need for new modes of recommendation mainly reflected by the growing significance of algorithms.

In the case of music, the transition from discomorphosis to digimorphosis seems to reconfigure, in a particularly salient way, the consumption practices and more generally the uses of music in everyday life. Do we collect and enjoy dematerialised works in the same way as we appreciate records? Is the issue of sound quality still relevant for users now in the habit of listening to music from compressed files? Does the fact that music is a payable good still have a meaning for new generations of listeners?

This symposium, being held as part of the ANR research project Musimorphoses, primarily aims to describe the various aspects of the uses of music in everyday life and to put forward prospective scenarios on the future of music listening. It does not focus on musicians’ activities or the music industry but on matters found at the crossroads between music consumption and music experience.

Papers will have to come within the scope of one of the six main questions of the programme:

1/ Ruptures and continuities. Should the digital turn be considered as a rupture at least as equivalent, in terms of the upheavals provoked, to the transition of civilisation from orality to writing? From a socio-historical point of view, how can we describe this digital turn and what is it truly changing in the uses of music in everyday life?

2/ Recommendation. In a world dominated by the abundance of available references and hyper-choice, algorithms are playing an increasingly significant role in mechanisms of recommendation. As they become more powerful, do these algorithms play a part in the broadening of the taste profile or do they act as devices for the formatting of preferences? How do they co-exist with other recommendation approaches?

3/ The price to pay. With the expansion of piracy and the use of stream ripping, audiences tend to see music as a cost-free good or even as a common good. Are we moving towards a free-for-all dominant model? In addition, the crisis of the music industry, the proliferation of illegal downloading and the instability of established business models have led some states to adopt various legislative responses. Is regulatory constraint of the music market the only solution?

4/ Listening technologies. With the development of the cloud, multi-room systems and mobile technologies, the listening field seems to have become hyper-mobile, hyper-connected and transformed with regard to the relation to archive and archiving. Does technological innovation lead to novel and sustainable listening experiences?

5/ Local listening, global listening. In a world where digital technology shortens “distances” and limits borders – despite the uneven nature of internet services across the globe – tastes and practices seem to become more homogenised. Are we seeing a standardised and globalised model of music consumption imposing itself ? Or is a new geography of listening habits and music taste being configured?

6/ The regulation of music consumption. The crisis of the music industry, the proliferation of illegal downloading and the instability of established business models have led some states to adopt various legislative responses. Is regulatory constraint of the music market the only solution?


Paper proposals should be sent to the following mail address by 30 April 2015 (at latest): [email protected]

Proposals should be no longer than one page, include a title and the author’s biographical note (with an email address) and outline the following: (1) an original argument; (2) the conceptual and empirical (fieldwork) elements underlying the analysis.

Authors will be informed of the selection procedure results by 31 May 2015 at latest.

Chair of the symposium: Philippe Le Guern, Professor, Université de Nantes / CRAL-EHESS ([email protected]).

Organising committee: Thibault Christophe (Université Toulouse 2-Jean Jaurès), David Delfolie (IDHES / IRASEC), Philippe Le Guern (Université de Nantes / CRAL-EHESS), Emmanuelle Olivier (CNRS / EHESS), Gabriel Segré (Université Paris 10 Nanterre).

Scientific committee:

Eitan Altman (INRIA)
Emmanuel Bigand (Université de Bourgogne – IUF)
Esteban Buch (CRAL-EHESS)
Michael Bull (Université du Sussex)
Nicolas Donin (IRCAM)
Joël Gilbert (Université du Maine et CNRS)
Antoine Hennion (Ecole des Mines)
Martin Kaltenecker (Université Paris Diderot)
Pascale Kuntz (Université de Nantes)
Philippe Le Guern (Université de Nantes)
Arnt Maaso (Université d’Oslo)
Sophie Maisonneuve (Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne)
Isabelle Marc (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
Morten Michelsen (Université de Copenhague)
Abdoulaye Niang (Université Gaston Berger, Sénégal)
Sylvie Octobre (DEPS, Ministère de la Culture)
Nick Prior (Université d’Edinburgh)
Peter Szendy (Université Paris 10)
Philip Tagg (Université de Leeds / Université de Manchester)

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