Captivating Distractions: Marketing Music in Consolidated Markets

Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

Ed McLuskie


R. Dube


R.E. Bahruth


Music is a form of art which has changed with the times. From the instruments, inventions and technologies of the day and the industries in prominence, art follows history in many ways. Each technological revolution involves inventions that people come to participate in—for our time, through the marketing of consolidated industries of popular culture. With the invention of recorded music, television, radio, and the Internet, art is being marketed in ways not imagined before.

The music industry of our day has become consolidated into just a few major record labels. While there are many independent labels and music outlets on the Internet, the major labels have extended connections and marketing tactics to whatever media are available. Specifically, the music industry has moved from radio to the Internet (or Internet forums such as

The consolidation of the music industry has had consequences for the art form as such. This thesis articulates some of these consequences to highlight how consolidation and marketing directs the substance of this art form, to co-opt, as Theodor W. Adorno argued, even the actual notes into genres of conformity. While this thesis does not analyze music form and style directly, it explores the lyrical side, where words and the ideas they express become marketing tools that sell not only a song or album, but also an artist, an image, and, ultimately, an industry. The thesis aims to tell the story of the co-optation of the music industry, part of the hegemonic character of society as a whole.

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