Selling music in India: Commodity genres, performing cosmopolitanism, and accounting for taste

Beaster-Jones, Jayson

     This dissertation is an ethnography of the practices, spaces, categories, and anxieties of selling music in urban India. Based upon fourteen months of research in the cities of Bhopal, Mumbai, and twenty-six branches of a national chain of music stores, the dissertation examines the circulation of music in various permutations--from the sale of 'originals' and 'copies' by hawkers, stalls, and retail outlets, to the redeployment of music in advertising and the sale of other commodities. The study interrogates authoritative discourses about music in India that circulate along with the music commodity, including the ascription of legitimate uses of music, the social meanings attributed to genre, as well as marketing and aesthetic discourses. Following from this, I argue that "selling" is a critical node between production and consumption that invokes ideologies of identity, aesthetics, locality, and cosmopolitanism that adhere both to the commodity being sold as well as the participants involved in its sale. As retail stores in self-contained shopping malls have proliferated in urban India, providing a branded 'shopping experiences' as an alternative to local neighborhood markets, this study illustrates the ways in which ideologies of branding and the organizational logic of commodity genres are mobilized to create sites for the performance of class and cosmopolitan consumption. This dissertation explores the manifold significances of music in neoliberal India, illustrating not only role of music in the market, but the role of the market in the music.

Mazzarella, William