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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Hyojung Sun

Thesis Abstract

With the rise of peer-to-peer software like Napster, many predicted that the digitalisation, sharing and dematerialisation of music would bring a radical transformation within the recording industry. This opened up a period of controversy and uncertainty in which competing visions were articulated of technology-induced change, markedly polarised between utopian and dystopian accounts with no clear view of ways forwards. A series of moves followed as various players sought to valorise music on the digital music networks, culminating in an emergence of successful streaming services.

The thesis discusses why there was a mismatch between initial predictions and what has actually happened in the market. It offers a detailed examination of the innovation processes through which digital technology was implemented and domesticated in the recording industry. This reveals a complex, contradictory and constantly evolving landscape in which the development of digital music distribution was far removed from the smooth development trajectories envisaged by those who saw these developments as following a simple trajectory shaped by technical or economic determinants. 

Conferences / Workshops 

“Digital Revolution Tamed: The Case of the Recording Industry” Science Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) Seminar, University of Edinburgh, 14 March 2017

Paradox of Celestial Jukebox: The Resurgence of Market Control in the Digital Music Industry Social Informatics Clusters Seminar, University of Edinburgh, 16 September 2016

“The Shaping of the Digital Recording Industry: The Business of Music Without Musicians” Working in Music: The M.U., musical labour and employment, University of Glasgow, 14-15 January 2016

Researching Product Cycles in Published Music” (co-presenting with Prof. Ruth Towse) Copypright and Business Models in Music Publishing Workshop, Birkbeck College University of London, 9 December 2015

Beyond Copyright and the Evolution of Digital Music Services” European Policy for Intellectual Property 10 Annual Conference, University of Glasgow, 2-3 September 2015

Impacts of changes in technology on music consumption” Music Publishing, copyright and business models, Bournemouth University, 4 June 2015

Invited discussant at a workshop on ‘Creativity and Technology’ at the University of Cambridge, 15 April 2015

 “Digital Music Economy: Convergence of Old and New” The Economics of Creativity and Competition : New Markets, New Challenges, University of East Anglia(A CREATe capacity building event), 4-5 February 2015

Inside Digital Music Distribution: Changing Dynamics and Paradoxes in the Digital Music Industry” - European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST 2014). Torun, Poland, 17-19 September 2014

Organised a Public lecture by Will Page, Director of Economics at Spotify on “Rockonomics: The Economics of Streaming Music,”  Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh, 8 May 2014

“Changing Dynamics in the Digital Music Industry” – Social Informatics Cluster

Recent Publications 

Hyojung Sun (forthcoming), Digital Revolution Tamed: The Case of the Recording Industry (2017) Palgrave Macmillan

Hyojung Sun (forthcoming), “The Times They Are A-Changin’: Digital Music Value in Transition from Digital Piracy to Streaming” in Music Piracy: A Global, Multidisciplinary Account (2017) edited by Tom Holt and Steven Brown, Routledge

Hyojung Sun (2017), Book review on “Business Innovation and Disruption in the Music Industry”, Journal of Information, Communication and Society, 

Ruth Towse & Hyojung Sun, Researching song titles, product cycles and copyright in published music: problems, results and data sources (2016) ACEI Working Paper Series