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Pop Brands

Branding, Popular Music, and Young People


Nicholas Carah

Edited By Nicholas Carah

Corporations engage young people and musicians in brand-building activities. These activities unfold in media-dense social spaces. Social networking sites, the user-generated content of web 2.0, live music events, digital cameras and cell phones are all used in constructing valuable brands. This book addresses the integration of popular music culture, corporate branding, and young people’s mediated cultural practices. These intersections provide a rich site for examining how young people build brands within spaces and practices that they perceive as meaningful. The book is based on extensive ethnographic empirical research, drawing on participant observation, textual analysis and interviews with young people, musicians, marketers and other participants in the cultural industries. Contemporary theories of marketing and branding are brought together with critical and cultural accounts of mediated social life. The book explores the distinctive concerns and debates of these different perspectives and the lively interface between them.


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Chapter Three


‘I Pushed My Way to the Front with Every Band I Saw’: Mediating Live Music Cameras and screens Cell phones, digital cameras and web 2.0 are key devices through which young people experience and enjoy popular music culture. Young people create mediated texts that simultaneously textualize their experience of music festivals and construct brands as mobile media objects. In the previous chapter I examined how brands and young music fans create mythologies of authenticity around the per- formance of live music. I examined the affective meaning-making la- bor young people undertake in enjoying popular music. Their taste and meaning-making practices are harnessed and directed by brands. In this chapter I explore the media-making work that young people do as part of corporate brand-building. Young people perform brand- building labor at live music events and online. I organize this chapter around three media-making practices that brands foster: gathering data through young people’s interaction with corporate branded web- sites, textualizing corporate brands and live music performances on social networking sites, and mediating live performances with mobile devices. I aim to explore how young music fans perceive their en- gagement with branded space and their relationship with corporate brands. Creating an authentic branded self The Coke Live website simulates a live music festival in a space where every communicative action can be recorded.1 Young people participate in Coke Live by registering and building an avatar (a digi- tal character) on the Coke Live website. The avatar is a branded self, a virtual person...

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