The musical common

I’ve been reading Jodi Dean’s book The Communist Horizon. Mostly I haven’t found it particularly strong, but I am enjoying her section about the ‘common’:

As Albert-László Barabási demonstrates, complex networks follow a powerlaw distribution of links. The item in first place or at the top of a given network has twice as many links as the item in second place, which has more than the one in third and so on, such that there is very little difference among those at the bottom but massive differences between top and bottom. So lots of novels are written. Few are published. Fewer are sold. A very few become bestsellers. Or lots of articles are written. Few are read. The same four are cited by everybody. The idea appears in popular media as the 80/20 rule, the winner-take-all or winner-take-most character of the new economy, and the “long tail.” In these examples, the common is the general field out of which the one emerges. Exploitation consists in efforts to stimulate the creative production of the field in the interest of finding, and then monetizing, the one.

This is more a note to come back to. The main thing I think of is with regard to musical activity and the way voluntary labour by all us little players in the music scene is part of a pool of general human activity which is necessary for the ‘stars’ to emerge… This labour goes completely (or largely) unremunerated. Will think about it further later. I think it has real implications for a socialist policy for the arts.

Advertisements