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Thursday, October 11 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Streaming as transnational industrial and cultural logic in television, music, film, and publishing

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The internet forms the backbone of streaming services, opening for global networks of television, film, music and publishing. In this panel, we understand ‘streaming’ not in the limited understanding of a certain form of file transfer, but as a cultural logic, implying immediate access to vast collections of cultural works. We bring together four papers that together argue that streaming could on one hand be considered a coherent cultural logic across industries, while on the other hand it covers industry-specific industrial logics and arrangements of revenue collection and rights management.

Streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix are currently replacing the sale of CDs and DVDs with streamed music and audiovisual drama. Amazon, along with multiple national and regional competitors, are attempting to attract book buying customers to their digital subscription-based offers. While we move from retail-based culture industries to access-based options financed by subscription fees or advertising, we are also witnessing a move from national industries to increasingly transnational ones, dominated by global players such as YouTube, Netflix, HBO, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon. These internet services are not only altering the culture and media industries but are important in the lives of billions of audience members worldwide.

There have been a number of studies of separate streaming services in recent years, (see, e.g., Burgess & Green 2009, Hagen 2015, Cunningham, Craig & Silver 2016, Finn 2017, Lotz 2017, Spilker 2017), but few have studied streaming as a cultural logic across traditional industries, and while there have been a larger number of studies on music, very little is yet published on streaming services for ebooks and audiobooks. There has also been more focus on algorithmic recommendations than on other parts of the technologies involved. While streaming constitutes a distinctly recognizable cultural practice, it plays out differently in different media industry contexts. This panel present and discuss recent results from several kinds of studies, thus painting a broad picture of streaming services in television, music, film and publishing.

Paper 1 presents the overarching perpective, through a discussion a possible consistent theory of streaming and its material and cultural implications across media industries. The authors discuss consumer experience, business practices, and textual implications in the music, film, and television industries to examine how established uses, production practices, and media content have been affected by internet distribution. They find notable consistency in the consumer experience across media, but limited convergence in business practices across media industries.

Paper 2 presents a study of streaming service technologies as actor networks, pointing to how it is crucial that we understand the technology and business setups of these companies, if we are to learn more about issues such as network neutrality, platform economy, and small-nation popular culture in globalised world.

Paper 3 takes as its topic the cultural logics of music streaming and the practice of Spotify playlist curation. Music is currently the media sector where streaming has taken its firmest hold. Departing from a corpus analysis of Spotify playlists, the authors explore the ways in which platform interface, affordances and data cultures influence music sharing as a cultural practice.

Publishing is not always included when streaming services are on the agenda. Paper 4 puts this right and presents how streaming services for audio books and ebooks have emerged, using Sweden and Norway as cases to explore the national and transnational dynamics of streaming in the book industry. The paper asks why the market for streaming services for ebooks and audio books in Sweden and Norway is comparatively scattered. The streaming book market is discussed in relation to book industry and book trade dynamics, streaming culture in the Nordics and with reference to concepts of cycles of openness and consolidation in internet industries.


Burgess, J., & Green, J. (2009). YouTube: Online video and participatory culture. Cambridge: Polity.

Cunningham, S., Craig, D., & Silver, J. (2016). YouTube, multichannel networks and the accelerated evolution of the new screen ecology. Convergence, 22(4), 376-391. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856516641620

Finn, E. (2017). What algorithms want: Imagination in the age of computing. Cambridge, Massachusettes: MIT Press.

Hagen, A. N. (2015). The playlist experience: Personal playlists in music streaming services. Popular music and society, 38(5), 625-645. doi:10.1080/03007766.2015.1021174

Lotz, A (2017) Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television. Ann Arbor: Maize Books.

Spilker, H. (2017). Digital music distribution: The sociology of online music streams. London: Routledge.

avatar for Jean Burgess

Jean Burgess

Professor and Director, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT
avatar for Anders Fagerjord

Anders Fagerjord

University of Oslo

Thursday October 11, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 8