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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 Eight


The Future of Mediated Youth Pop brands I began this book by describing the emergence of experiential brand- ing and the brandscape as a contemporary articulation in the devel- opment of marketing as a political, economic and social practice. The history of marketing is characterized by the intensification of the rela- tionship between capital and social space. Having some way of ac- counting for capitalism is a fundamental ground for studying brand- building. Branding is, and has always been to some degree, a particu- lar embodiment of the communicative logic of capital. I set out to study brand-building within the social context of young people and the popular music culture of the global west. Here, brand- building and popular culture are symbiotically connected. Popular culture is a key realm of meaning-making in western society. Conse- quently, branding as a strategic meaning-making process engages with the spaces and practices of popular culture. Any theory of expe- riential branding, therefore, needs to encompass a critical account of popular culture and the underlying structure of the social context within which it is produced. Popular culture is not simply an ‘authen- tic’ resource that brands poach, co-opt and feed off. Popular culture itself needs to be seen as a product of the same industrial mode of production as brands. A critical account of popular culture and brand- ing needs to come to terms with the mythologies and narratives pro- duced in order to make the social world possible, coherent and enjoyable. Here, a contemporary...

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