Social Media and Knowing Music
November 20, 2009
Neil Borg-Olivier in philosophy, social media

I was interested in what Steve Lawson had to say about incremental vs transformative change in the music industry. I agree that the dawn of the digital age represents a fundamental shift in the way the industry works.

Thinking about this it also occured to me that the relationship between social media and the music industry also represents a transformative change. It occured to me that for the first time, Music seems to understand the way we understand it… you follow?

Let me explain. Things may get a little abstract but go with it.

Narrative has that other time, that other voyage, which is the passage from the actual song to the […] imaginary, enigmatic song, which is always far away, and which designates this distance as a space to travel. (Maurice Blanchot)

Whilst a French philosopher might not be evrybody’s first port of call when thinking about music, Blanchot highlights something we are beginning to understand ourselves… eventually. it is an understanding which is manifesting itself in social media.

What Blanchot is saying is that music without narrative is ignorant of the space that exists between art and audience. This space, which he describes as an empty fullness is essential to that relationship.

This is why we have seen a trend amongst creative people to endow the space between them and their audience with the positive energy it demands. Social Media is a way to create a narrative which leads to the music and bridges the unspoken void revealed by Blanchot.

We can take this on further. I would argue that the dawn of a new understanding makes narrative MORE IMPORTANT than the final product. By allowing access to the inner workings of a project, an artist, a journey, the artist fulfills the audience even before the point of completion. This absence is what makes music enigmatic and, more importantly, eagerly anticipated.

Finally, at the point in which people are put into contact with the complete product, they have already endowed it with a meaning of their own. This meaning is immediately destabilised by that placed upon it by the musician and the enigmatic relationship is renewed. The next installment, and the narrative which makes it interesting, is just as eagerly anticipated.

I still have some problems with social media, I often find it alienating, I know it can be exploited by those with dark intentions, those who preach it as the way we should live our lives in the future still upset, confuse and concern me. However, I work with young musicians, I know it can provide them with opportunities, contacts and friends. I also know it is here to stay so we should try to make sense of it…


Appliances are going beserk

I cannot keep up

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (
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