Re: virus: Free Market Memetics (was: Watching)

Michael Patrick Hills (
Wed, 13 Jan 1999 11:14:43 +1100 (EST)

On Sat, 9 Jan 1999, Tim Rhodes wrote:

> Brendan Rainford wrote:
> Although I agree with much of what you've said, want to question the
> assumption on which these two sentences are based (and one which
> lies at the heart of the supposed democracy of the "Free Market" ):
> Is the product which sells the best really a reflection of "what the people
> want"?
okay, everyone knows "Free Market" is kind of an oxymoron, but..

> With cultural products (music, art, movies, TV and info-tainment) I don't
> think we can claim a direct link between what people buy and how they feel
> about their world. You listen to the music that is available. This effects
> how you feel about the world and these effects are reflected in your next
> purchase. (Again, limited by the pool of available musics.) Which effects
> how you feel and what you buy next, and so on. I think the relationship is
> a dynamic one and in large part prescribed by the limitations on the pool of
> avialible music. I suspect that the boundries of what is available is what
> really controls the movements of this dynamic relationship.
I agree in part. I think you're ignoring (to a degree) the role of the 'underground' music scene. Most 'popular' music genres.. from Jazz to Grunge to Techno are atleast initally developed by 'the people' for 'the people' - ie a subset of (to some degree) musically talented people dissatisifed with the current musical genres who take it upon them self to create there own music (of course, in the past it seems inevitable that it all becomes about money, and labels and PR etc).

In this way I think music is more democratic (by the theoritical def. not the one we see in action); the people satisfying and exploring there own musical 'needs'. Of course, the Free Market aspect comes into play, as the music becomes an item of consumption (and cooption); but still people vote with their wallets (consumer democracy) thus rewarding those examples of music that they favour.