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date: 26 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

During the 20th century, the creation and distribution of popular culture became increasingly centralized by a small number of mega-media companies, which came to control not only national but global markets. This chapter traces the transformation and revision of this model for the production and dissemination of popular fads and fashions. We show how the advent of inexpensive and accessible digital technologies has enabled creators to produce and circulate cultural products at lower cost and much more widely. This more bottom-up model of culture production has impacted the domination of mega-media, providing local and regional artists greater exposure and engagement with new fans and audiences. The downloading of music and e-books, and streaming of video content altered and disrupted the ‘traditional’ ways of these industries. Their slow response and resistance, in turn, facilitated the rise of new web-based competitors and frameworks that better link artist and audience. Our portrait of how these mechanisms have changed is considered within the framework of Hirsch’s initial analysis and continued tracking of cultural industries’ operation. This update takes further account of how wider gatekeeping and the disintermediation of earlier pathways were enabled by new technologies and corporations. These, in turn, created new forms of web-based distribution and narrowed the number of ‘go to’ sites, thereby recentralizing and re-intermediating control over this segment of the cultural industry system.

Keywords: Creative industries, disintermediation, technology, cultural products, film, books, video

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