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3 - Shaping the Stream: Techniques and Troubles of Algorithmic Recommendation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2019

Nicholas Cook
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Monique M. Ingalls
Affiliation:
Baylor University, Texas
David Trippett
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

This chapter provides an overview of the role of algorithmic recommendation in contemporary music streaming services, describing how they work, how they relate to other algorithmic applications, and problems that have emerged from their use. Against a dominant discourse that pits algorithms against humans, it argues that contemporary recommender systems are best understood as ‘ensembles’, comprising a variety of algorithmic and human parts working in conjunction with each other. This suggests new directions for research, focusing not on the intrinsic character of human or algorithmic mediation, but rather how this sociotechnical ensemble is composed and conducted. The issues raised by algorithmic music recommendation are not new but variations on past concerns including payola, the treatment of so-called world music and the power of cultural intermediaries.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

Drott, Eric. 2018. ‘Why the next song matters: Streaming, recommendation, scarcity’. Twentieth-Century Music 15 (3): 325–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morris, Jeremy Wade and Powers, Devon. 2015. ‘Control, curation and musical experience in streaming music services’. Creative Industries Journal 8 (2): 106–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Razlogova, Elena. 2013. ‘The past and future of music listening: Between freeform DJs and recommendation algorithms’. In Radio’s New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era, edited by Loviglio, Jason and Hilmes, Michelle, 6276. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Seaver, Nick. 2018. ‘Captivating algorithms: Recommender systems as traps’. Journal of Material Culturehttps://doi.org/10.1177/1359183518820366.CrossRef
Striphas, Ted. 2015. ‘Algorithmic culture’. European Journal of Cultural Studies 18 (4–5): 395412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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