Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Scott M. Walus


While music promotion has been important aspect for musicians, bands, and musical organizations for well over a century, the rise of social media in the digital era has profoundly changed the way these promoters perceived of and practice their commercial task of selling music. Paratexts (Gray, 2010a) offer an effective lens for focusing on these promotions while encoding/decoding (Hall, 1980) justifies producer studies to examine and uncover vital aspects of production shape the text and medium theory adds further focus by recentering the medium as being distinctly influential. Existing research on music promotion highlights the uniqueness and evocativeness of the musical product while historically-based music promotion practice dictates that a cohesive image should be crafted for promotion and that uncommercialized physical spaces should be sought out by promoters. The distinct symbolic traits and delineation of each social media have also been documented and researched. To uncover the perceptions, practices, and underlying ideologies of promoters, a representative sample of 22 independent North American musicians, bands, and record labels were interviewed. I found that these promotional producers consider the social media environment to be a free and egalitarian space of transparent communication and connectivity, but implicitly perceive the social media audience to be an inattentive, passive, and malleable mass audience. In emphasizing continual creation and circulation of promotions on social media, producers are implicitly devaluing their musical work. In addition, though producers state an awareness that social media channels are different, they approach social media monolithically and seek to distance themselves from overly commercial goals when creating promotions. The interviews with producers reveal deep, recurrent connections and ideologies underlying stated perceptions and practices of music promotion. Though music promotion and social media usage will continue to shift and change, the underpinning ideologies and implicit belief of promoters will remain and social mediated promotions will continue to eclipse the central musical text.