New Media Ecologies of World Music

Tomorrow, bright and early, I’ll be joining a panel of several esteemed colleagues to talk about “new media ecologies of world music” at the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, which is taking place at the Wilshire Grand hotel in downtown Los Angeles. If you’re in the area and up for getting up so early on a Sunday, please join us — or as co-panelist Josh Kun just tweeted:

Who’s ready for cumbias and corridos at 8:30 tomorrow AM? World music 2.0 for the early risers and non-church goers

Here is the panel abstract, followed by the slate of papers and their titles. For those who read my recent piece in The National, much of what I’ll be saying will sound familiar.

The category of “world music” has been identified with ethnomusicology since the late 1950s but was powerfully reworked in the 1980s into the industrially-produced genres of “world music” and “world beat.” In recent years, independent redistributions and online circulations have revitalized “world music” with raw materials derived from a global array of previously underdocumented regional popular styles. But these emerging media ecologies of world music (sometimes described as “World Music 2.0”) disengage from the top-down marketed collaborations and smoothly hybridized visions of the 1980s and 1990s. Instead, new productions reorient the ideologies and ethics of world music toward the discourses of “open source culture,” free informational exchange, and participatory democratic access enabled by digital media and online distribution. Accordingly, the notion of what “world music” sounds like — and the picture of the world it entails — increasingly maps onto new global imaginaries of the popular, sometimes decentering the term’s consumer lynchpin: the autonomous Western listener. However, despite the possibilities of more horizontal (if not peer-to-peer) revisions, critical problems of participation and power remain in familiar as well as new forms. While new media ecologies offer increased opportunities for inclusion and exchange, they simultaneously create novel patterns of exclusion, difference-making, and vulnerability at crucial nodes of shared access. This panel will question how globally popular platforms like YouTube enable or undermine the collective stewardship of world music, how digital modes correspond with more established commercial routes of musical circulation, and their challenges to ethnomusicology’s existing discourses of musical culture.

12G Brentwood Room
New Media Ecologies of World Music
Chair: Timothy Taylor, University of California, Los Angeles
8:30 Dude, Where’s My Video? – Kevin Driscoll, University of Southern California
9:00 The Corrido and the Network: Cross-Border Ecologies of Mexican Music – Josh Kun, University of Southern California
9:30 Uneasy Peers and Unstable Platforms: The Making and Breaking of World Music 2.0 – Wayne Marshall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
10:00 “New Old Media” of World Music – David Novak, University of California, Santa Barbara