PhD Graduate Kim de Laat on Musical Form and Content in the American Recording Industry

January 23, 2019 by Kathy Tang

PhD Graduate Kim de Laat published an article in the Sociological Forum analyzing musical form and content in the American recording industry. The article explores processes of innovation and diversity within the industry during the emergence of digital technology, from 1990-2009. De Laat argues that the ways in which types of innovation and diversity interact have broad implications for cultural production and reception.

Kim de Laat obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2017 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender + the Economy at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Her research examines the interplay between culture, work, and organizations.

We have posted the article citation and abstract below. The full article is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

de Laat, Kim. 2014. "Innovation and Diversity Redux: Analyzing Musical Form and Content in the American Recording Industry, 1990–2009." Sociological Forum, 29(3):673-697.

Using the American recording industry as a case study, this article analyzes innovation and diversity concurrently and outlines the analytical purchase gained from doing so; examines the effects of performer incumbency and combinatorial role patterns, thereby offering an empirical application of the “role as resource” perspective (Baker and Faulkner 7); and provides data on an underexplored era in which the emergence of digital technology has had wide‐ranging repercussions. Regressing measures of innovation (form) and diversity (content) on incumbency status and combinatorial role patterns reveals that innovation and diversity operate through distinct collaborative patterns. New artists are found to be carriers of musical innovation, and while performing artists with autonomy over the roles of songwriter and producer are more likely to be progenitors of musical diversity, innovation emerges from role specialization. Artistic roles and performer attributes, moreover, come together in particular ways to influence diversity and innovation depending on the environmental context. Post compact disc (CD) format era, innovation wrought by producer specialization is predominant, but the music is devoid of diversity. I conclude by arguing that the manner in which configurations of diversity and innovation interact has implications both for cultural production and reception.

Read the full article here.