The Association for Cultural Economics International (ACEI) seeks to promote academic research and dissemination of issues involving economic theories and the diverse cultural production. Amid the virtual shift due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Cultural Economics Online Seminar Series (CEOS) was launched, closely tied to the ACEI’s blog – definitely a great source to follow what it is going in cultural economics! 

The CEO #7 (available online) invited the CROWDCUL project coordinator, Professor Natalia Mæhle (HVL), to be a discussant to Dr. Rodrigo Cavalcante Michel’s article “Music, Network, and Technology in urban outskirts: technological impact on rap production at south of São Paulo”. Motivated by the increasing literature on the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and their multiple consequences on music production, the work aimed to identify if and how this impact was perceived in different territories, specifically in urban outskirts in the so-called Global South.  

Through an evolutionary and complex approach to the creative economy, the district of Grajaú in the south of the city of São Paulo, Brazil, served as the territory of analysis for understanding the extend of ICTs’ impact on the local rap industry. Using the method of social network analysis, three diagrams were generated to comprehend the (new) dynamics of production within the digitalization processes: a general one in which 230 agents are present, a monetary one and a collaborative one. As a conclusion, ICTs do affect Grajaú’s music production by reducing the costs, making home studios possible, and facilitating access to software and tutorials. However, the impact is limited since it does not seem to improve the artists’ income and break the privileged structure of wealth concentration in the central urban areas.  

Professor Natalia Mæhle raised pivotal questions about the generalizability of the findings in other regions and other music genres, which lead to an enriching discussion about the abyssal difference of realities, so that one who was born and raised in a European city may not find trivial to grasp. The exciting debate continued by elaborating future research possibilities and the idea of using crowdfunding also in urban outskirts where society remains very much embedded in physical monetary transactions. There is a lot to delve into!  

With the COVID-19 crisis, it is definitely a perfect timing to increase collaborative research efforts to foster the artist economy and rethink financial structures within the culture sector worldwide. CROWDCUL project focuses on this topic and invites anyone interested to engage in our blog with reflections, insights, and more! 

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