Is Web 2.0 About Exploitation Or Empowerment?
from the an-academic-look dept
The paper takes a balanced look at the Swedish independent music scene, which relies heavily on fan communities to act as filters and promoters of the music. The record labels don't focus so much on "selling music" so much as building up attention that can then be monetized in many different ways. Thus, they encourage fans to share and promote their music for them. So, is this use of fans exploitation?
The paper shows that, contrary to the "exploitation" view, the fans often get plenty of value out of the whole process, if not directly in monetary terms. As the paper notes, the concept of "exploitation" suggests a cost to the participant, but if they get more out of participating than they give up, then it hardly seems like exploitation. Instead, it's a reasonable choice in a non-monetary market, where they get more value than they put in. Plus, the paper notes that some of the fan participants eventually do make some money out of their efforts as well. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise. There are plenty of folks who became highly involved in a hobby and are eventually able to turn that into a business.
But the bigger issue for many fans, is simply being able to build relationships with the musicians they love -- and with other fans. To them, that's worth a lot more than money, and it's hard to see how building strong relationships and friendships can be seen as exploitation.
On top of that, the paper notes that the fans also make use of certain strategies to make sure -- implicitly or explicitly -- that they're not being exploited. In other words, whether they realize it or not, they're aware at some level of the possibility of being exploited by the situation, and they make certain choices to protect against that possibility. Overall, a very interesting paper that's worth reading, and I look forward to more research on this topic.