“The perfect guide in a crowded musical landscape:” Online music platforms and curatorship


  • Emilia Barna Budapest University of Technology and Economics




curation,  popular music, music industry,  streaming services,  genre,  music and place


Curatorship or curation has become a widely used term in music industry and popular music discourse recently, used not only in a museum or exhibition context, but also in connection with music festivals, and increasingly, playlists and other functions related to online music platforms. Through a case study of 22tracks, an online, playlist-based music discovery service currently based in four European cities, I look at the role and position of the music curator, and provide a critical analysis of the dominant discourses around music curation. I place the discourse of music curation into a context of dominant narratives accompanying music as well as digital and online technology, including that of the “long tail” and the “tyranny of choice.” I then proceed to explore the relationship of curation to place, scenes and genres, and conceptualise curatorship as an increasingly professionalised tastemaking and promoting function.

Author Biography

Emilia Barna, Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Emília Barna, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology and Communication, Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Her doctoral thesis (University of Liverpool, 2011) examined the relationship between music scenes, networks and the Internet through a case study of contemporary Liverpool indie rock bands. Her main areas of research include the study of popular music scenes and genres, and popular music, gender and technology. She is Treasurer of IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music), Chair of IASPM Hungary, editor of Zenei Hálózatok Folyóirat [Music Networks Journal], and Advisory Board Member of IASPM@Journal.




How to Cite

Barna, E. (2017). “The perfect guide in a crowded musical landscape:” Online music platforms and curatorship. First Monday, 22(4). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v22i4.6914