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Record labels' collaboration with the media: monopolization of the prog and marginalization of the kraut
MIAM - Center for Advanced Studies in Music, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6622-8890
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

What would happen if Nazi Germany won the Second World War; would the Germans label the progressive rock of Britain as Limey-rock? Would their own rockmusik be globally called as progressiv (in German) in that alternate scenario? In the 70s, British media readily approved and promoted the use of the term progressive to define their epochal music genre. On the other hand, the same media did not hesitate to reveal their war-obsessed character (as BBC calls it) while telling about the cultural developments of the other. They standardized and marginalized several progressive styles of Germany through labeling them with a slurry umbrella term; Krautrock. Artists of the scene did not like the term, but interestingly, their music gained much more attention among the Anglo-American audiences with this infamous term. But still, does it change the fact that their struggle was ridiculed until being turned into something profitable?

Research on progressive rock has usually evaluated it as a British phenomenon even though the defining term has been subject to controversy. In my paper, I try to probe the reasons behind the establishment of this narrative. Drawing on the recent research on music industry’s influence on the content of popular music and with references to Marx’s concept of commodity fetishism and Adorno’s writings on fetish character of music, my paper discusses that the progressive rock genre has been commodified by major record labels which have dominantly been Anglo-American. On the other hand, I approve the conventional view of scholars who envisions that the genre emerged in Britain as an anti-American response to popular culture and therefore essentially British in its nature. However, I think this view is not sufficient for explaining the monopolization of the term by the British. With regard to a number of recent researches on BBC’s role in manipulated/mediated listening and based upon Stuart Hall’s arguments on cultural hegemony, my paper argues that the British media monopolized the term progressive for naming their own music through also creating the other in their hegemonic discourse. In this case, the other was the German progressive rock; a movement that stood against the post-WWII Anglo-American hegemony on popular music. Additionally, my paper deals with the marketing and advertising of Krautrock with reference to the recent research on marketing effect on the contemporary hipster culture and Bourdieu’s theory of class distinction. In the 70s, while progressive rock has taken its place in music history as “the popular avant-garde” of its time (in Bill Martin’s words), I argue that media and record labels have designated Krautrock as the ‘real avant-garde’ and this process still continues in the age of Internet. Even the recent BBC documentaries act as a witness to that.

All in all, the main theme of my paper is that even the music history has always been written by the winners. But it is crucial to notice that, with the help of technological innovations, the tools of writing history have been modernized. Centuries of German dominance on music had been established through the discipline of musicology they had invented, but in the age mechanical reproduction, the Anglo-American hegemony has had more advanced tools like radio, television, Internet, and more importantly, music industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keywords [en]
popular music, music sociology, culture industry, digital culture, music marketing
National Category
Musicology
Research subject
Musicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-68720OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-68720DiVA, id: diva2:1245220
Conference
Le rock progressif! Première conférence internationale du réseau ACADPROG, University of Burgundy, France, December 10-12, 2014
Available from: 2018-09-04 Created: 2018-09-04 Last updated: 2018-09-07Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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