Unfree Masters

Popular Music and the Politics of Work

Unfree Masters

DIVIn Unfree Masters, Matt Stahl examines recording artists' labor in the music industry as a form of creative work. He argues that the widespread perception of singers and musicians as free individuals doing enjoyable and fulfilling work obscures the realities of their occupation. Stahl begins by considering the television show American Idol and the rockumentary Dig! (2004), tracing how narratives of popular music making in contemporary America highlight musicians' negotiations of the limits of autonomy and mobility in creative cultural-industrial work. Turning to struggles between recording artists and record companies over the laws that govern their contractual relationships, Stahl reveals other tensions and contradictions in this form of work. He contends that contract and copyright disputes between musicians and music industry executives, as well as media narratives of music making, contribute to American socioeconomic discourse and expose basic tensions between the democratic principles of individual autonomy and responsibility and the power of employers to control labor and appropriate its products. Stahl maintains that attention to the labor and property issues that he discloses in relation to musicians and the music industry can stimulate insights about the political, economic, and imaginative challenges currently facing all working people./div

Unfree Masters

Popular Music and the Politics of Work

Unfree Masters

DIVIn Unfree Masters, Matt Stahl examines recording artists' labor in the music industry as a form of creative work. He argues that the widespread perception of singers and musicians as free individuals doing enjoyable and fulfilling work obscures the realities of their occupation. Stahl begins by considering the television show American Idol and the rockumentary Dig! (2004), tracing how narratives of popular music making in contemporary America highlight musicians' negotiations of the limits of autonomy and mobility in creative cultural-industrial work. Turning to struggles between recording artists and record companies over the laws that govern their contractual relationships, Stahl reveals other tensions and contradictions in this form of work. He contends that contract and copyright disputes between musicians and music industry executives, as well as media narratives of music making, contribute to American socioeconomic discourse and expose basic tensions between the democratic principles of individual autonomy and responsibility and the power of employers to control labor and appropriate its products. Stahl maintains that attention to the labor and property issues that he discloses in relation to musicians and the music industry can stimulate insights about the political, economic, and imaginative challenges currently facing all working people./div

Playing to the Crowd

Musicians, Audiences, and the Intimate Work of Connection

Playing to the Crowd

"Playing to the Crowd explores and explains how the rise of digital communication platforms has transformed artist-fan relationships into something more intimate. Through in-depth interviews with musicians such as the Cure, UB40, and Throwing Muses, Nancy K. Baym reveals how new media has facilitated connections through the active participation of both the artists and their devoted digital fan base. Before the rise of online sharing and user-generated content, audiences were mostly seen as undifferentiated masses, often mediated through record labels and the press. Today, musicians and fans have built more active relationships through social media, fan sites, and artist sites, giving them a new sense of intimacy, while offering artists unparalleled access to and information about their audiences. But this comes at a price. For audiences, meeting their heroes can kill the mystique. And for artists, maintaining active relationships with so many people can be labor intensive and emotionally draining. Drawing on her own rich history as a deeply connected music fan, Baym offers an entirely new approach to media culture, arguing that the work musicians put into maintaining these intimate relationships reflects the demands of the gig economy, one which requires resources and strategies that we all music come to recognize"--Publisher's description.

Country Soul

Making Music and Making Race in the American South

Country Soul

In the sound of the 1960s and 1970s, nothing symbolized the rift between black and white America better than the seemingly divided genres of country and soul. Yet the music emerged from the same songwriters, musicians, and producers in the recording studios of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama--what Charles L. Hughes calls the "country-soul triangle." In legendary studios like Stax and FAME, integrated groups of musicians like Booker T. and the MGs and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section produced music that both challenged and reconfirmed racial divisions in the United States. Working with artists from Aretha Franklin to Willie Nelson, these musicians became crucial contributors to the era's popular music and internationally recognized symbols of American racial politics in the turbulent years of civil rights protests, Black Power, and white backlash. Hughes offers a provocative reinterpretation of this key moment in American popular music and challenges the conventional wisdom about the racial politics of southern studios and the music that emerged from them. Drawing on interviews and rarely used archives, Hughes brings to life the daily world of session musicians, producers, and songwriters at the heart of the country and soul scenes. In doing so, he shows how the country-soul triangle gave birth to new ways of thinking about music, race, labor, and the South in this pivotal period.

Danger Mouse's The Grey Album

Danger Mouse's The Grey Album

This book marks the tenth anniversary of The Grey Album. The online release and circulation of what Danger Mouse called his 'art project' was an unexpected watershed in the turn-of-the-century brawls over digital creative practice. The album's suppression inspired widespread digital civil disobedience and brought a series of contests and conflicts over creative autonomy in the online world to mainstream awareness. The Grey Album highlighted, by its very form, the profound changes wrought by the new technology and represented the struggle over the tectonic shifts in the production, distribution and consumption of music. But this is not why it matters. The Grey Album matters because it is more than just a clever, if legally ambiguous, amalgam. It is an important and compelling case study about the status of the album as a cultural form in an era when the album appears to be losing its coherence and power. Perhaps most importantly, The Grey Album matters because it changes how we think about the traditions of musical practice of which it is a part. Danger Mouse created a broad, inventive commentary on forms of musical creativity that have defined all kinds of music for centuries: borrowing, appropriation, homage, derivation, allusion and quotation. The struggle over this album wasn't just about who gets to use new technology and how. The battle over The Grey Album struck at the heart of the very legitimacy of a long recognised and valued form of musical expression: the interpretation of the work of one artist by another.

Technologies of Learning

Apprenticeship in Antwerp Guilds from the 15th Century to the End of the Ancien Régime

Technologies of Learning

The importance of training and education is on the increase. While the production of 'human capital' is seen as a motor for a competitive economy, skills and expertise proof to be necessary for social mobility. Remarkably, in conceiving modern forms of 'apprenticeship', several mechanisms from the acien regime, seem to return. The difference between public and private initiative is disappearing, education and training is being confused, and in order to acquire generic skills as flexibility, communicability, self-rule, creativity and so on, youngsters have to learn 'in context'. Even for maths, scholars now talk of 'situated learning'.Before the advent of a formal schooling system, training took place on the shop floor, under the roof of a master. The apprentice not only worked but also lived in his master's house and was thus trained and educated at the same time. In cities, this system was formally complemented by an official apprenticeship system, prescribing a minimum term to serve and an obligatory masterpiece for those who wanted to become masters themselves. Traditionally, historians see this as an archaic and backward way of training, yet this book's aim is to show that is was instead a very flexible and dynamic system, perfectly in tune with the demands of an early modern economy.In order to understand it fully, however, we should differentiate the informal training system organised via a 'free market' of indentures on the one hand and the institutionalised system of craft guilds on the other. In Antwerp, early modern guilds had a project of 'emancipating' their members. They didn't simply produce certain skills, but through a system of quality marks defended the honour of craftsmen. This is the difference with current practices. By representing hands-on skills as superior, guilds supplied a sort of symbolic capital for workers.

Unfree Labour in the Development of the Atlantic World

Unfree Labour in the Development of the Atlantic World

This collection of essays examines the different forms of unfree labour that contributed to the development of the Atlantic world and, by extension, the debates and protests that emerged concerning labour servitude and the abolition of slavery in the West.

Unfree Labor

Unfree Labor


Wounds of Returning

Race, Memory, and Property on the Postslavery Plantation

Wounds of Returning

From Storyville brothels and narratives of turn-of-the-century New Orleans to plantation tours, Bette Davis films, Elvis memorials, Willa Cather's fiction, and the annual prison rodeo held at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Jessica Adams considers spatial and ideological evolutions of southern plantations after slavery. In Wounds of Returning, Adams shows that the slave past returns to inhabit plantation landscapes that have been radically transformed by tourism, consumer culture, and modern modes of punishment--even those landscapes from which slavery has supposedly been banished completely. Adams explores how the commodification of black bodies during slavery did not disappear with abolition--rather, the same principle was transformed into modern consumer capitalism. As Adams demonstrates, however, counternarratives and unexpected cultural hybrids erupt out of attempts to re-create the plantation as an uncomplicated scene of racial relationships or a signifier of national unity. Peeling back the layers of plantation landscapes, Adams reveals connections between seemingly disparate features of modern culture, suggesting that they remain haunted by the force of the unnatural equation of people as property.