THE IMPACT OF PROMOTIONS TECHNIQUES ON CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY IN THE POPULAR MUSIC INDUSTRY: A CONSUMER PSYCHOANALYTIC PERSPECTIVE

A Dissertation submitted in the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, School of Management for the degree of MSc in Marketing

September 1998 By George Rossolatos

It is declared that no portion of the work referred to in the dissertation has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university

Abstract This dissertation is an exploratory research into of the impact of promotions techniques on consumer psychology. The research that draws on the interpretive methods and categories of psychoanalysis and semiology is an attempt to define the product concept of a musical product in terms of distinctive sets of promotional discourses that communicate its features to select audiences. The audience at hand is the teen-market, and its segmentation takes place against life-style characteristics. The aim is to find out whether the ‘cultural imagery’ disseminated by promotional techniques has an impact on consumers’ relationship with their ego-ideal and situational self, as well as how a notion of selfhood is established via musical products. In addition, the aim is to explore whether promotional discourses impact on intra-group coherence, and help shape the ‘sacred character’ of musical products. Finally, this thesis aims to put forward a new approach in accounting for consumptive phenomena of the entertainment business, viz. Iconic Consumption, as well as to demonstrate how its operational categories can be put into use and yield important results for consumer behaviour researchers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements Abstract Table of contents List of Figures i ii iii

Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1 Postmodern Consumer Research 1.2 The Hyperreal Space of the Music Industry Chapter 2: Literature Review 2.1 Introduction: What is Popular Music? 2.2 What is the meaning of a musical product and how is it constructed? 2.3 The Icon of the Other as central to the concept of the musical product 2.4 The Semiotic perspective on the Icon 2.5 The Imaginary, the Symbolic, the Real: How the three Lacanian orders can help us understand Consumer Psychology 2.6 Fetish-Taboo-Similacrum: The Triadic Definition of the Musical Product 2.6.1 What is a Fetish and how does it help us understand the way consumers of musical products invest it with value? 2.6.2 What is a Taboo and how does it help us understand the way whereby consumers of musical products gain access to their unconscious wish-fulfilment? 2.6.3 What is the simulacrum and how does it help us understand how musical products as simulacra impact on consumer psychology? 2.6.4 Conclusion to the triadic definition of the musical product 2.7.1 Hedonic Consumption Pt.I: Is pleasure-seeking the driving force behind the consumption of musical products? 2.7.2 Hedonic Consumption Pt.II: Consumption as the pleasure of ritualistic fusion 2.8 Conclusion Chapter 3: Industry Overview 3.1 Introduction: Promotions Techniques and their place in the Music Industry 3.1.1 Advertising 3.1.1.1 Print Advertising 3.1.1.2 Air-Play

3.1.1.3 TV Advertising 3.1.2 Sales Promotions 3.1.2.1 Samples 3.1.2.2 Price-packs 3.1.2.3 Premiums (gifts) 3.1.2.4 Fan-Club 3.1.2.5 Free-trials 3.1.2.6 Point-of-sale displays 3.1.2.7 Below-the-line advertising/Special Events 3.1.2.7.1 Live shows 3.1.2.7.2 Club-events 3.1.2.7.3 Press-conferences 3.1.3 Public Relations 3.1.3.1 Press Relations 3.1.3.2 Product Publicity 3.1.3.3 Lobbying 3.1.4 Conclusion 3.2 The Virtual Organization: A Network Marketing approach to the Music Industry 3.2.1 Introduction 3.2.2 Top management of the record company 3.2.2.1 Sony Music 3.2.2.2 Warner Music 3.2.2.3 Thorn EMI & Virgin Music Group 3.2.2.4 Polygram 3.2.2.5 BMG 3.2.2.6 Conclusion 3.2.3 A&R Department 3.2.4 The Artist 3.2.5 The Marketing Department 3.2.6 The Press Office (PR Department) 3.2.7 The Journalists 3.2.8 The DJ 3.2.9 The Retail Outlet 3.2.10 The Consumer 3.2.11 Conclusion Chapter 4: Methodology 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Research Objectives 4.3 Research Design 4.3.1 Why Qualitative Methods? 4.3.2 Secondary Literature 4.3.3 In-Depth Interviews

4.3.4 Focus-Group Discussions 4.4 Analytical Techniques 4.5 What is Discourse Analysis? 4.6 Problems associated with Discourse Analysis 4.7 Implications of Discourse Analysis 4.8 Analysis at work 4.9 Conclusion: Interpretivism as a method to Consumer Psychoanalysis Chapter 5: Discussion of Research-Findings 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Exploring the nature of the Research Hypotheses 5.2.1 Hypothesis 1 5.2.2 Hypothesis 2 5.2.3 Hypothesis 3 5.3 Conclusion Chapter 6: Conclusion and Recommendations 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Theoretical Contribution 6.2.1 Contribution on a Conceptual Model level 6.2.2 Contribution on a Methodological level 6.3 Implications of the research findings for brand management 6.4 Limitations 6.5 Recommendations- Future areas of research 6.6 Conclusion Appendices Appendix 1: Primary Data 1.1 Focus-Group Design 1.2 Transcribed Data Appendix 2 5.2.1 (a) Press clip and Virgin Records Official Press Release Appendix 3 Glossary Bibliography

1. Introduction 1.1 Postmodern Consumer Research
J.F.Lyotard’s ‘Postmodern Condition’ (1984) attested to the end of grand ideologies that purported to structure socio-political and cultural life on the principles of theoretical ‘meta-narratives’. From the postmodern perspective our world is shaped to a large extent by the fleeting images projected on consumers. In the case of the entertainment business, these fleeting images anchor in the aesthetic media of music, film, fashion, mass media. In this dissertation we set out on an Odyssey, both theoretical and empirical, into the popular music industry. The Sirens that enchanted us bear the name ‘musical products’. The theoretical apparatuses employed so far in order to tackle their seductive melodies has been found to be far too ‘modern’ for their elusive personae. Time-hallowed research paradigms, like Symbolic Consumption and Hedonic Consumption have been deemed by various researchers in the field of Consumer Behaviour, such as Mick(1986), Elliott (1995), Belk (1989), Holbrook and Hirschman (1992), as being too restrictive and exclusive in accounting for certain consumptive phenomena. While acknowledging their indispensable usefulness in accounting for certain product classes (such as cars, confectionery, television-sets) and consumers’ attitudes towards them, they fail to account for other consumptive phenomena, such as that of ‘musical products’, a very special product-class indeed. Whereas in the aforementioned product-classes the needs and desires of consumers are discernible more easily, when it comes to musical products we are confronted with major definitional problems, when applying traditional consumer behaviour models, such as AIDA (AWARENESS-INTEREST-DESIRE-ACTION). Having been personally involved in the industry for a considerable amount of time, conversed with people who work for various departments, artists, and consumers, it has become apparent that this consumptive phenomenon is defined by extraordinary

complexity. One factor that intensifies this complexity is that whereas other fast-moving consumer goods can be conceptualized as regards their use and exchange values quite apart from the promotional activities undertaken as part of a marketing communication plan, musical products are the outcome of such promotional activities, and in fact, their use-value cannot be conceived apart from the ways whereby their image is shaped through these activities. The place of the consumer amidst this promotional extravaganza is not easy to track down. Complex concepts have been recruited in order to show how consumer identity is formed via promotional activities, as well as how groups of consumers operate on the basis the life-styles they project. The milieu for this exploratory project is circumscribed by postmodern discourses; the research design, rationale and discussion of its findings are shaped on the assumptions or insights gained while reviewing relevant fragments from the existing literature. Through this reviewing process a model, deemed to be appropriate for the research at hand, was constructed, which was baptised ‘Consumer Psychoanalysis’. As implied by the term, psychoanalytic tools (mostly Freudian and Lacanian) have been operationalized in an attempt to define the ‘subject’ and its Other. Thorough argumentation has been provided wherever the reformulation or criticism of existing theories was called for, in order to elucidate concepts that are ‘obscure’ by nature, as well as in order to render their applicability evident. But before moving any further we should first clarify what is meant by ‘Postmodernism’ and the aspects in which it differs from meta-narratives. “First, a movement away from universalistic ambitions of master-narratives where the emphasis is upon totality, system and unity towards an emphasis upon local knowledge, fragmentation, syncretism, ‘otherness’ and ‘difference’. Second, a dissolution of symbolic hierarchies which entail canonical judgments of taste and value, towards a populist collapse of the distinction between high and popular culture. Third, a tendency towards the aestheticization of everyday life which gained momentum both from efforts within the arts to collapse the boundary between art and life (pop art, Dada, surrealism and so on) and the alleged movement towards a simulational consumer culture in which an endlessly reduplicated hallucinatory veil of images effaces the distinction between appearance and reality. Fourth, a decentering of the subject, whose sense of identity and biographical continuity give way to fragmentation and superficial play with images, sensations and ‘multi-phrenic’ intensities” (Mike Featherstone, Undoing Culture: Globalization, Postmodernism and Identity, Sage 1995, pp.43-44). Parker (1992, p.70) points out two ways in which the postmodern differs from the modern: (i) there is a shift from a critical stance towards the world which attempts to realise human values and needs against existing institutions and patterns of culture to a positive stance which celebrates the way things are because any other way is as unreal. (ii) there is a shift from metaphors of depth to the surface, so that instead of attempting to uncover deeper underlying structures of oppression, experience or progressive dynamics of change, the attention is to meaning alone. In this sense, the postmodern is an experience in which each and every thing is equally invested with meaning.

No other definitions could be more comprehensive as regards the contents of this dissertation: • An emphasis on fragmentation: How is the consumer broken into the multiplicity of heterogeneous images projected by musical products? • A dissolution of canonical aesthetic hierarchies: Mozart or Pulp? This is the question addressed in the introduction to our Literature Review, viz. an act is popular for those who invest psychic value on it, be it a group of two consumers or 25,000,000. What matters is their ‘irreducible difference’, i.e. the impossibility to hierarchize musical taste according to categories of ‘authenticity’ and ‘inauthenticity’. Authenticity? Is this possible with billions of copies of Mona Liza circulating in the emporium? (to repeat the often cited argument by Walter Benjamin with regard to the loss of the ‘aura’ of the original in the era of mechanical reproduction). • Simulational consumer culture: What this means essentially is that products are consumers and vice versa. As it will be explained in the Literature Review, musical products are ‘simulacra’ rather than ‘representations’, a distinction which has tremendous implications for members of Marketing and A&R departments, who are mostly responsible for the R&D stage of a musical product. • Decentering of the subject: Alternatively, the consumer is never one with him/herself, but always in a process of re-collecting products that substitute for the lost sense of selfhood. Lacanian and Freudian psychoanalytic terminology will be employed in order to show how the decentering of the subject is an essential precondition for the consumption of musical products. However, none of these terms would make sense without a unifying theoretical backdrop. Insofar as postmodernism goes hand-in-hand with the notion of hyperreality, we should first of all turn our focus to that direction.

1.2 The Hyperreal Space of the Music Industry
The purpose of this section is to give a general theoretical framework within which the analysis of the function of promotions techniques and their impact o consumer psychology can take place. The principal aim is to show how the production of a musical product is embedded within a cultural space of interlocking procedures, which are interdependent and inextricable. This space, in which the music industry is situated, is called the ‘Hyperreal Space’. Let us begin by explaining how this concept evolved in the history of human thinking and then move on to describe its usefulness in analysing the function of promotions techniques. Issak Newton conceived of space as an existing container within which the movement of physical entities takes place. It was not until the advent of modernity and its major proponent Immanuel Kant that space was conceived as an ideal principle, with no tactile reality, that imposes, under the auspices of Reason, an ordered movement in the succession of phenomena as they appear to human perception. This conception of space, which was termed by Kant as one of the two pure forms of sensibility (the other being time), has long since undergone serious attacks by thinkers such as Hegel, Schelling, Einstein, and more recently the post-modern philosopher Jean Baudrillard, who coined

the term ‘Hyperreal Space’ in an attempt to explain the imaginary nature of space. The ‘Imaginary’, for Baudrillard, is conceived not in contradistinction with ‘reality’, but as what precedes the very distinction between imagination and reality. From the time of Plato, (and with slight conceptual differences this is also true of Aristotelian thinking), Imagination was conceived as the faculty of human cognition that allows for the production of definite images, and the role of production of images was allocated to the realm of art . This conceptualisation was rendered etymologically clear by Martin Heidegger (in the Introduction to his seminal work Being & Time), who analysed the term according to its original signification embedded in the grammatical framework of ancient Greek language. In this context imagination is translated into Greek as ‘Phantasia’, which derives from the verb ‘phaino’, initially denoting ‘to bring something into existence’ or ‘to let appear’. Reality, as what is given or what exists, is explicated concomitantly as what has been brought forth into existence or what is. Therefore, insofar as imagination is responsible for bringing something into existence, and given that existence is equivalent to reality, we infer that imagination is the faculty of cognition responsible for creating reality, i.e. what is. For the majority of theorists in the post-modern literature (i.e. the literature that attempts to break free from the tradition of modernity initiated by Immanuel Kant) there is no kind of substructure to what is. ‘Reality’ is irreducibly an arte-fact, that is a series of facts cunningly knitted together by a spider, as it were (to use Nietzsche’s eloquent metaphor, who also metaphorically alludes to the products of art as ‘facta ficta’, i.e. ‘fictive facts’). Art can thus be pictured as a massive manufacturing plant, where reality is produced through the machinery of imagination. And the fact that art is not just about ‘entertainment’, but has more ‘serious’ political and social dimensions is attested by politicians’ need to be trained intensely in the art of rhetoric, the linguistic tools of which allow them to twist their discourse in such manifold ways as to produce ‘reality’ through different lenses, or create facta-ficta by drawing on the artistic skills of rhetoric. Therefore, reality is not distinctive from its artistic renditions, but rather depends on them for its very constitution. Reality has always already been ‘hyperreal’. “The hyperreal represents a much more advanced phase, in the sense that even this contradiction between the real and the imaginary is effaced” (Baudrillard 1983, p.142). The Hyperreal points out the fact that reality is a fabricated structure, which has important implications for marketers because every time marketing managers segment a market, they are inevitably concerned with inventing or structuring that market on the basis of certain background assumptions. However, given that every kind of identifiable structure allows for modifications in its fabric or even for its very foundations to be lifted altogether, thus causing its dissolution, we have to retain an invisible side inside or outside the artefact. This invisible side was termed by theologians and philosophers throughout millennia, the ‘Real’ (starting with Plato who called ‘it’ ens entium, the Being of beings, then Aquinas who called ‘it’ ‘Ens realissimum’, and finally the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan who coined the ‘Reel’, as what does not exist in language). For the purposes of this dissertation we accept this kind of

Real, as a structurally necessary excessive element that poses a threat to the structure, which we call, following Baudrillard, ‘Hyperreal’ or what lies above the Real. Given that the ‘Real’ is inaccessible, what we can investigate, modify, or interpret in this dissertation, with its focus on the music industry in general, and the musical product in particular, is the ‘Hyperreal’, that is our world, i.e. the multiplicity of artefacts. “This also means the collapse of reality into hyperrealism, in the minute duplication of the real, preferably on the basis of another reproductive medium- advertising, photo,etc.” (op.cit.p.14, my emphasis), or, in general, the promotional discourses (reproductive media) that are responsible for producing the cultural imagery that shapes our world. The constant reproduction also implies the absence of any sense of ‘originality’, as every new factum fictum is a collage of elements from previous facta ficta, or hyperreal constellations. The absence of ‘originality’ in a cultural artefact means that whatever is produced is already its double, that is a reduplication of itself. This cryptic remark simply means that there are no fixed properties inherent in a product, but that its properties are always interpretatively and performatively mediated by artists, advertisers, individual consumers and the multiple reference groups of which they form part. Dance music is a novel repetition of ritual rhythms, and contemporary rock music is a repetition of African beats. The primacy of ‘repetition’ in describing the essence of a musical product also has important implications for its value, both psychic and monetary. The value of a musical product is not determined in an a priori manner, but rather lies in the perception of individual evaluators. The theoretical distinction, often used by authors in the consumer behaviour literature, between the intrinsic and extrinsic value of products breaks down. Otherwise, how could we explain the outstanding amount of money charged for a piece of Jimi Hendrix’s clothing worn in Woodstock Festival? The value of this product does not correspond to its original value. In fact, it is highly doubtful whether there ever was an original value. On the contrary, it is the central argument of this thesis that the product has always been other than what it is, depending on the different interpretations and evaluations people have been making about it at different points in the hyperreal space. The ‘meaning’ and ‘proper features’ of the product have been undergoing, ever since its inception, an incessant process of reduplication, while being disseminated in the hyperreal space and re-interpreted by the cultural mediators that are responsible for its fabrication. The various promotional media (such as advertising, air-play, live-shows, and related merchandise) operating at the level of the Hyperreal can only afford to reproduce already produced ‘fictive facts’ by reconstructing them into novel ‘facts’. These facts are similar to texts (or, better, hypertexts) in the sense that, just like the latter, they are created by drawing on certain artistic principles, such as the art of composing a literary or musical piece. Every meaningful text, either belonging to the realm of historiography or pop culture, is nothing but a text woven with mastery in a completely haphazard, albeit meaningful manner. The sum of these texts (text here is used in its original sense as texture or the elements that make up a ‘factum fictum’) constitutes what is called ‘cultural heritage’, which maps the cultural space. Therefore, cultural space is hyperreal space, i.e. not resembling to another space, but resembling only to itself. It is a self-subsistent, textual surface made up of artistic, fictive facts laden with meaning. This space

circumscribes the procedure of encoding messages and transmitting them through identifiable channels to the units of consumption or the consumers. The ways whereby these messages are inscribed in the products of the popular music industry, and even more radically, the nature of messages inscribed in these products, are not always easy to track down, as their production is disseminated in and through various loci, including advertisers, promoters, radio stations, magazines, newspapers, or in general what we call the ‘carriers of cultural significance’ (or cultural mediators, as Bourdieu, 1983, calls them). Therefore, the music industry is an abstract artistic machine of cultural production, in which distinctive classes of cultural mediators and an entire range of promotional techniques are responsible for the production and reproduction of musical products that assume value for groups of consumers.

1.3 Conclusion
This dissertation will be concerned with how this ‘value’ is inscribed in musical products, what kind of value it is, and how it is exchanged according to different contexts of their use. The description of musical products, and products produced in the entertainment industry in general, as ‘textual artefacts’ already shows the importance of communication in the dissemination and reduplication of their meaning(s). Promotions techniques are the vehicles of this communication, and largely responsible for shaping the concept of musical products. The following chapter explores how this shaping takes place, and which classes of ‘cultural mediation’ are responsible for the production of cultural meaning communicated in and through this distinctive class of products.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Introduction: What is Popular Music? Popular music is an indispensable part of people’s lives in contemporary post-industrial societies. Tagg (1982, p.37) has estimated that the ‘average Westerner’s brain probably spends around twenty-five per cent of its lifetime registering, monitoring and decoding popular music” (cited in Burnett 1996, p.1). Popular music is not easy to define due to issues that arise once the questions ‘for whom’ and ‘why’ it is popular are posed. Denisoff (1975, p.39) defines popular music as “ the sum total of those taste units, social groups and musical genres which coalesce along certain taste and preference similarities in a given space and time”. This definition suggests that a particular musical trend is regarded as popular by a given audience at a given spatiotemporal moment. This claim urges us to dispel every consideration of a

musical style as popular in absolute terms. Even though the term ‘popular’ (stemming from the latin ‘populus’ meaning the undifferentiated mass of people) is used to define a mass market, it is not so obvious that an artist who cherishes commercial success is more popular than another who is recognized in a small market niche. It is my belief that each particular audience is incommensurably different to another, which means that an artist’s popularity is not necessarily translated into sales figures. How are we to interpret popularity, then? “What the term ‘popular music’ tries to do is to put a finger on that space, that terrain, of contradiction- between imposed and authentic, elite and common, predominant and subordinate, then and now, theirs and ours, and to organize them in particular ways” (Middleton 1990, p.7, my emphasis). Middleton rightly stresses that the term ‘popular’ tends to impose a dividing line between consumer segments. Clustered according to similar psychographic and/or demographic characteristics, act followers gather around the musical icon, from which stems a feeling of ‘authenticity’, of being different from a rival act’s followers. It is our suggestion that popularity be assessed according to the impact an act has on its consumers. The consumers form distinctive audiences sharing common preferences, that allow them to cluster under the name of a particular act, which is popular for that audience. The impact of that act on its audience’s ‘comportment towards its worldly affairs’ (to use a phenomenological term) is evinced in the ways in which the members of the audience adopt several features initiated by the act’s image. The name of the act is the generic definition encompassing all these features that form part of the audience-members’ everyday communicative activities among them, as well as with other group-members. 2.2 What is the meaning of a musical product and how is it constructed? It was stressed in the introduction to this dissertation that the value of the musical product cannot be determined in an a priori manner. Its inevitably extrinsic value depends on the image formed by primary, secondary, and tertiary image-makers, who, in turn, determine the product-concept. The image of the musical act functions as a mirror in which individual members that form its audience reflect themselves and, concomitantly, structure their self-image around the features that make up this cultural artefact. Cultural mediators (press, radio, dj’s, influencers, opinion leaders) are responsible for the construction of the mirror, which lies between the two polar opposites of the production-consumption spectrum. Then, consumers are responsible for inscribing the mirrored features in their comportment, and reflect them back to the cultural mediators. This incessant process of mirroring allows the movement of polysemic dissemination, i.e. the dispersal of meaning inscribed in the musical product in multiple communicative contexts, to take place within the all-encompassing hyperreal cultural space. The following graph summarizes the process of the musical product’s imagemaking or product concept: Tertiary image-makers (consumers)

Primary imageMakers/ Primary Product concept

Secondary image-makers

(Graph 1) The meaning cultural mediators give to the product is identical with the promotional message, which is defined as “the complex of significations which at once represents, advocates and anticipates the circulating entity or entities to which it refers” (Wernick 1996, p.182). M. Ritson & R. Elliott have termed this process co-creation of meaning, which denotes that “the reader connects the meanings derived from a text with their own experiences and repertoires in the co-creative act. Not all the meanings derived from a text come directly from its intended sources, many stem from the individual connecting and integrating, at a varying abstract level, the explicit content of the text with their own constructions of reality” (1995, p.1049).

INSERT FIGURE 2 FROM THE ARTICLE

What is effectively created, through a long chain of interlinked promotional activities, is a ‘simulacrum’ of reality, or what resembles itself (see below for an analysis of the concept ‘simulacrum’). Consumers, in the process of mirroring themselves in the image of the artist, are mirrored in the process of the manufacture of culture. Essentially, they “live always already in an aesthetic hallucination of reality” (Baudrillard 1983, p.148). The notion of ‘hallucination’ does not presuppose, in this context, a real meaning that is covered up in a misty cloud, but rather certifies the hyperreal character of every artefact. Given its artificial nature, it can easily be re-placed in the movement of re-doubling (cf. Introduction), and enter a new trajectory (with unexpected behavioural effects) in the communicative circulation of signifiers among consumers clustering under the name of a particular act. What do I mean by that?

Simply, the following: Encoding (Promotions people- primary image Press people- secondary image) Decoding (Consumers)

Decoding (PP + PP)

Encoding (Consumers)

(Graph 2) The above-used notion of ‘trajectory’ implies that this model takes place in a spiralling form. This means that communication moves into circles, in the sense that the message at one time is disseminated from the PP to the consumers and at another time the process works vice versa. This circulation is enabled by the ‘iconic’ dimension of the musical product, that is its intangible cues that grant it its power to impose coherence among the group-members: “ The icons have a power or magic stemming from the supernatural beings they are supposed to represent. They do indeed resemble their objects, but it is a magical or metaphysical resemblance, an association and a fixing of the object’s properties in a physical form”. (Bradley 1991, p.25) The ‘physical form’ Bradley refers to encompasses the tangible cues, like posters, photos, memorabilia, which we saw in the promotions techniques analysis as adding extra value to a product. This urges us to infer that there is an analogical relationship between the type of promotions used for marketing a product and the feeling the consumer gets out of associating the additional features (extra-value) surrounding the product of approximating the ‘essence’ of the icon. Barthes calls this analogy “a figurative copy of the object signified” (Barthes 1990, p.216). And as always, there is a gap between the copy and the original. It is this gap “iconic experiences encourage us subconsciously to fill in…and then to believe there was no gap in the first place” (Kent Grayson 1997, p.21, the phrase has been slightly amended). The hierarchy in which these associations between promotional technique and added value are stratified will be explored in the context of focus-group discussions.

The relationship between ‘extra-value’ and promotional techniques is most strikingly manifested in the memorabilia-collector’s life-style. This person structures a significant part of his/her life on the principle-ideal of exhausting the collectable items surrounding a particular artist, be it limited edition records or posters. The whole craving resembles the quest for the Holy Grail. And again, just like the religious icon, the musical product is an occasion for ‘communion’ with one’s peers. Recognition is secured from one’s likes, thus reinforcing the sense of belongingness, or the fundamental ontological need of beingwith. The collector, essentially, is never alone. S/he is always accompanied by the aesthetic phantasm of a generalized Other that is present in virtue of possessing an ‘icon’ (just like a die-hard fan of Jimi Hendrix who was reported to believe he was in touch with the deceased artist, in virtue of being in possession of his scarf). “Icons are also cultural ciphers. They help us to de-cipher, or unlock, the mystery of our attitudes and assumptions…people who believe in them also operate on an emotional level- the level of love and reverence” (Fishwick et al 1970, p.86). 2.3 The Icon of the Other as central to the concept of the musical product The concept of ‘Other’ is central to the Lacanian psychoanalytic oeuvre, as well as operative in the analytical framework of this thesis. For Lacan, the Other can only be referred to in an oblique manner, thus precluding any direct referential relationship. For explanatory purposes, we could say that the Other is radical alterity, irreparably separated from the ego, like the separation that takes place at the moment of birth. The function of a cultural icon is to provide a simulacrum of the origin (the maternal lieu) to which the consumer cannot return, save only ‘feel like’ what it is to return in ‘dissimulation’, that is self-deception. This is why the ‘fetish’ is described by Lacan as the ‘petit autre’ (objet petit a1), because it gives a glimpse of the Other (l’Autre, with capital A). Therefore, the cultural icon provides a cipher for approximating the Other, a code for communicating among group-members a fundamental lack, which is the lack of the origin. The Other points to a ‘gap’ in the centre of subjectivity, which gap (and the steps taken in order to bridge it) is re-produced in consumption through the gap that exists between the iconic object and what it represents (as already noted by Grayson). The reason why this gap, which is of central value in constantly rekindling the desire to consume, is never closed is that its closure would amount to a dissolution of the ego, as it would become one with its Other. “The self’s only model for self-conception has been that of the idea of itself as ego, a person” (McCannell 1986, p.64). This means that the code can never be broken, as what it allows the ego to approximate is its ideal image, rather than the Other, which constitutes its ‘essence’ as gap. The ‘gap’ is also the reason why the icon is an object of uncritical devotion. The processes whereby devotees demonstrate psychic attachment to the icon have been called by Belk et al. ‘sacralizing processes’, that is the processes whereby “consumers construe
1

“The ‘objet-petit-a’ represents the machine that unleashes desire. It is really Lacan’s formula for the lost object which underpins symbolisation, cause of, and ‘stand in’, for desire. Desire takes place in a specific place. All the objects have some relationship to separation. The breath, the voice, a song, all of these things can be objects of desire. Evan a glance can be an ‘objet-petit-a’”. (Sarup 1992, p.69, my highlighting).

meaning in various fashions and in different degrees of ontological intensity” (1989, p.13). Collecting, being one of these processes, is of major significance in maintaining one’s self-concept or ego-ideal. This significance was evinced by the authors in the context of interviews they conducted with collectors who had lost their valued objects. “Such an occasion is disturbing because it destroys the possibility of eternal life for possessions that are closely connected with the self” (op.cit., p.30). Although Belk stresses that “advertising has the potential to trivialize the sacred by its copresence” (op.cit. p.24), it may be counter-suggested that it works the other way round. The process of promotions is responsible for investing the musical product with a mystifying, sacred cloak, for enhancing its ‘aesthetic hallucination’ (or ‘illusory realism’Mick 1986, p.206, also cf. Elliott 1997, p.285) and maintaining its iconic status (Hypothesis 2).

2.4 The Semiotic perspective on the Icon Having, thus far, hinted at how musical products function as cultural icons, we shall turn to analyse the effects of the icon on consumers of musical products on the grounds of R.Barthes’ semiotic system, and Freud’s and Lacan’s psychoanalytic techniques. An important concept that will be used in analyzing these effects is Barthes’ ‘signifiance’. For Barthes, Signifiance arises when the text is read (or written) as a moving play of signifiers, without any possible references to one or some fixed signifieds. In this process, the subject is deconstructed (lost), overwhelmed by the pleasures of jouissance. Signifiance should not be confused with signification. Signification presupposes a relatively stable relationship between signifier and signified, whereas signifiance implies that the only relationship that exists is between signifiers. This means that the relationship is not denotative but connotative. This means that whereas a poster at the centre of which figures the head of the lead-singer of a band may signify the singer qua physical entity, at the same time it signifies all sorts of cultural values (and exchanged for them). The links that are drawn between the signifier and the deposit of signifieds it connotes are enabled by consumers’ partaking of a common cultural predicament (more light will be shed to this ‘predicament’ when interpretive repertoires and their value in creating world-sense for consumers is discussed). Therefore, in signifiance the signifieds are constantly transformed into signifiers. This connotative relationship between signifier and signified establishes the hyperreal framework of the music industry. “While signification covers all the processes related to communication (meaning, expression, subjectivity) signifiance in song concerns the grain of the voice, where the melody really works at the language- not at what it says, but the voluptuousness of its sound signifiers” (Middleton 1990, p.261-). For most of the part the language is everyday language- cliched, trite, familiar- though it may be reassembled into new combinations. “The point is to ‘defamiliarize the familiar’, to invest the banal with affective force and kinetic grace, to draw out of the concrete world of denotation some

sense of those human generalities translated by musical processes. The result is to make plain talk dance” (idem., p.229). Middleton’s point echoes Adorno’s remark that “The culture industry fuses the old and familiar into a new quality” (Adorno 1993, p.85). The phenomenon of the defamiliarization of the familiar, which we have called the polysemic dissemination of the signifier or its redoubling, is called by Baudrillard ‘passive magic’, i.e. “the interest in the travelling of pure images [and sounds]- a sort of fascination” (Baudrillard 1993, p.167). So, when we are dealing with sound signifiers, as Middleton calls them, the traditional models of consumer psychology that prioritize the level of affection before awareness become defunct. And this occurs because no continuity can be discerned between the two, while a semantic abyss opens up at their interval. The soundsignifier has no original, therefore it cannot be comprehended as fulfilling a particular need. This is one of the points in which our analysis diverts from traditional analyses of consumer behaviour. The point is that whereas traditional approaches rely on an indexical relationship between signifier and signified, i.e. a correspondence relationship of word and object, this analysis relies on the iconic relationship of word and object. This implies that there is no original object, but an infinite relationship of signifier to signifier. This is the semiotic function of metonymy in which the part is related to the whole through contiguity. The aural signifier, which as Hirschman argues lies in another order than verbal cues, provisionally turns into the signified through contiguity, i.e. a rhythm expressing the sublime for its audience before it is worn out, reconstituted at the level of signifier and re-enter the repetitive process of signifiance. “In signification, signifieds are continually being formed as signifiers. The signified becomes a signifier on the level of connotation2, and so on” (Williamson 1976, p.101). Traditional approaches draw on the psychological paradigm of behaviourism, “which seeks to explain complex social behaviour in terms of select salient variables. For tacit knowledge, consumer symbolism, and consumer life meaning, such approaches are insufficient at best” (Mick 1986, p.207). “...consumer satisfaction is an indexical sign in marketing theory that some desire has been fulfilled” (Mick 1986, p.199). In the case of musical products no such ready-made typology that links definite needs to definite objects of satisfaction can be discerned, given the incessant ‘lack’ of the object (oblique reference to the Other, hence the Italics) as radically separated from the subject. In order to understand, and operationalize, the kind of satisfaction musical products confer on their purchasers and users we have to dig deeper, at the primary level of affection (Many authors, like Belk and Hirshman have tried to show how this primary affect is evinced at a bodily level). Certain promotional techniques, such as the live show, employed in the music industry target the purely affective part of their audiences. “The live has become a place of magic, an enchanted mirror through which the most publicised celebrities leap off the celluloid, or out of the record track, into direct sensory range” (Wernick 1996, p.115). This is the process of the promotional text/artifice becoming real, or emerging in a site of the hyperreal space. “In rock artifice becomes genuine, all repetition is novelty [just like the live show is a novel rendition of the recorded song, and, going into circles, the songs rerecorded live are novel renditions of the recorded songs, without original], and the producer and consumer stand in an equal relation to the product” (Pattison 1987, p.135,
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“A ‘connoted system’ is one whose plane of expression is itself constituted by a signifying system” (idem.)

my highlighting). Of course, as Negus rightly stresses, the process of redoubling does not extend ad infinitum, but is always bound up with definite modes-of-Being, to use a Heideggerian term, or life-styles. These life-styles, and the stereotypes on which they impinge, are in turn mirrorings of a certain social structure. However, the mirroring implies a dynamic process of mutual change, i.e the social structure being modified by the invention of new stereotypes and vice versa. “The signs and conventions from which ads [and promotional techniques in general] build their myriad product images are drawn from a common cultural pool. But this shared repertoire is not just ‘out there’…Its elements are constantly re-articulated and re-worked in the symbolic universe of promotion itself” (Wernick 1996, p.93). Promotion techniques offer models of and for reality. Therefore, the music industry is not segregated from other parts of individuals’ daily lives but plays an important part in shaping beliefs, attitudes and aspirations. It is not only a product industry but a culture industry, as well. “Culture industries are important agencies of socialization [and sacralization], mediators of political reality, and should thus be seen as major institutions of contemporary societies with a variety of economic, political, cultural and social effects” (Kellner 1995, p.25). But how is this ‘political reality’ formed?

2.5 The Imaginary, The Symbolic and the Real: How the three Lacanian Orders can help us understand Consumer Psychology. Every attempt to explain the three principal orders of ‘reality’, so to speak, according to Lacan is laden with major difficulties, mainly due to their unclear exposition in the original texts. At this point, we shall venture into clarifying their role and significance in understanding consumer psychology. “It should be noted that the ‘orders’ are not stable concepts; at each moment each may be implicated in the redefinition of the others. Although the Imaginary and the Symbolic are distinct and opposed, the Symbolic encroaches upon the Imaginary, organises it and gives it direction.” (Madan Sarup, Jacques Lacan, Harvester 1992, p.105). “The Imaginary grows from the infant’s experience of its ‘specular ego’. It arises with the mirror phase but extends far into the adult individual’s experience of others and of the external world.” (idem. p.101, my emphasis). “The concept of the mirror phase draws our attention to the interdependency of image, identity and identification” (idem., p.102, my emphasis). The Imaginary is of extreme importance in understanding consumer psychology as it is primarily responsible for consumers’ shaping with ego-ideals by identifying. with the specular images of artists. “For Lacan the ideal ego is an essentially narcissistic formation, originating in the mirror phase and belonging to the Imaginary” . (idem, p.103). The Symbolic is the chain of signifiers that is the outcome of a cultural order that shapes the world and creates meaning for those who adhere to its commands. This order is the sum of “various codes that situate our behavioural utterances, rendering them meaningful” (The Symbolic Order, p.121). “Symbolism can be analysed semiotically by examination of the system of signs and what they signify. It has been realized, however,

that this leads to an infinite regress as one sign leads to another without there ever being anything ‘real’ outside the system. To complicate matters further, symbolic interpretation is essentially non-rational improvisation that does not obey the codes of language but operates at the unconscious level (Sperber 1975)” (in R.Elliott, Existential Consumption & Irrational Desire, p.286, my emphases).The way it complements the Imaginary is by procuring a chain of identifiable signifiers able to impose a scenario on the act of reflecting oneself in the mirror-image of either oneself or one’s ideal self, just like when a fan gazes at his/her favourite artist on stage, for example. Williamson offers a lucid account of the complementarity between the two orders, by drawing on an analysis of how signifiers are disseminated through advertisements. Insofar as advertising is one of the primary promotional means whereby the image of musical products is communicated to audiences, it is useful to cite her arguments at a considerable length: “Ads set up, in your active relationship towards them, the fictional creation of an impossibly unified self: an Ego-Ideal… But this merging with an objectified image of yourself is impossible: the desire for it is simply a channelling of the desire for the preSymbolic, Imaginary Ideal-Ego… Advertisements, in offering us symbols as the objects of unity they ensnare us in a quest for the impossible”3. Thus, the image of the Other on whom the gaze befalls becomes significant on the grounds of a pre-existing cultural order that posits a range of alternative ideal-selves, from the image of the successful businessman to the raving dancer. These images point metaphorically to certain culturally sanctioned ideals, such as success, fun, responsibility etc. This is how the Symbolic is inscribed on the Imaginary and vice versa. Finally, the order of the Real is “the impossible to symbolise” (idem., p.104). We hope it became apparent in the introduction that the Real is not tautologous with reality or the ‘reality principle’, as Freud put it. Far from it! Even if we invent a discursive topology in order to accommodate it within the referential framework of Reason, that is by saying it is outside, beneath, above reality, it still evades us. This is why we refer to it figuratively by placing it in the realm of the unconscious, accessible only through irrational means of expression, more poetic than logically formulated. Music has been more often than not identified with irrational part of the brain, that does not obey the dictates of rational calculation. Most of the bands I have interviewed so far were eager to confirm this view, by replying to the question ‘How did you come up with this innovative blend of sounds’ that it was not ‘rationally calculated’, but rather spontaneous, emerging in the process of jamming together and trying to develop a sound. The last artist to give this answer was Tom (guitar-player of Gomez, a rock act run by Virgin Records, interview conducted in April 1998 at the Roadhouse in Manchester). This empirically verified assumption suffices to corroborate the remark that “The Lacanian concept of the Real harks back to the Freudian id; it is associated with the sudden, the disconcerting and the unpredictable” (op.cit., p.104). And given that the id, for Freud, resides in the unconscious it suffices to show that the process of image-making is a dialectic between consciousness and the unconscious. Isn’t this, in fact, the whole rationale that shapes the ways the music industry functions, that is in an unpredictable, opportunistic, indeed ‘unconscious’ manner?
Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising, Marion Boyars 1978, p.65
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To recapitulate, the order of the Imaginary is primarily responsible for motivating the dialectic of recognition through which the consumer is urged to identify with his/her specular image, either in a mirror-reflection or in the projection on the artist. The Symbolic is responsible for conferring meaning on this specular experience by inscribing the image within a cultural order. “But in their tendency to dominate all other modes (e.g. imaginary and real) symbols also have an inherent tendency to move beyond the realms of recognition and conscious agreement. Unconscious, they become powerful systems that transcend, pre-date and pre-order those humans who now can be seen less as the makers of the symbol than its servants, less users of symbols than themselves mere instruments for perpetuating the existence of symbols” (The Symbolic Order, p.124). This passage illustrate how consumers perpetuate a given cultural order, alongside the means responsible for the manufacture of culture, i.e. the promotions techniques. In the postindustrial, post-modern era where information technology has taken over traditional productive methods, the flow of information is primarily responsible for the formation of cultural images. Within this general productive trend, the musical product is defined by the same features that make up the hyperreal character of the products of the entertainment industry (films, fashion, etc.) Let us ‘gaze’ at these features in the ensuing sections.

2.6 FETISH-TABOO-SIMULACRUM: THE TRIADIC DEFINITION OF THE MUSICAL PRODUCT 2.6.1 What is a Fetish and how does it help us understand the way consumers of musical products invest it with value? “The Fetish has an ordering power derived from its status as the fixation or inscription of a unique originating event that has brought together previously heterogeneous elements into a novel identity” (Dawn Ades, Surrealism: Fetishism’s Job, p.72). “The primary sense [of fetish] is to do, to make (faire), the sense of ‘to imitate by signs’” (J.Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, Telos Press 1981, p.91). “What is substituted for the sexual object is some part of the body (such as the foot or the hair) which is in general very inappropriate for sexual purposes, or some inanimate object which here bears an assignable relation to the person whom it replaces and preferably to that person’s sexuality. Such substitutes are with some justice linked to the fetishes in which savages believe that their gods are embodied”. (Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on Sexuality, in Peter Gay, The Essential Freud Reader, p.249, my highlighting). “In other cases the replacement of the object by a fetish is determined by a symbolic connection of thought, of which the person concerned is usually not conscious. It is not always possible to trace the course of these connections with certainty” (idem, p.250, my highlighting). The Fetish is primarily an object invested with libidinal energy. Hence, it is often viewed as an eroticized object, because it performs a function that accords with the pleasure principle, i.e. the maximization of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. That the Fetish is the ‘fixation of an event’ means that it is also burdened with the character accorded to it

by the reality principle, or the commands of a given culture. The ‘event’ is singular, as well as located in the realm of the primary process, or the unobstructed flow of libidinal energy. Therefore, it takes place in the unconscious, and cannot be accessed as such (i.e. as an event), save only through the discursive transformations responsible for its imagistic fixation. These transformations resemble the three functions of dream-interpretation4, i.e. displacement, condensation, and substitution. These operations take place at the juncture between consciousness and the unconscious, and are responsible for imposing an identifiable and communicable structure on the chaotic flow of the latter. This structure is presented to the analysand in the form of a reconstruction of the ‘event’, therefore it is always already dependent on the interpretative capacity of the analyst or sculptor of ‘promotional discourses’, in our case. Its construction is not ‘objective’, but rather it is to a large extent dependent on the analyst’s perception of the event. It is in essence an interpretation, rather than a disinterested observation of a fact. The analogy of the dreamwork to the ‘fetish’ can be rendered intelligible if we think how these two texts function in parallel ways. Just like the interpretation of a dream is the result of condensation and displacement of the elements that originally succeeded each other in a serial manner or in loops (we can figure their succession either way), so the fetish is a pastiche of heterogeneous elements that came together under the general heading of a name, that was coined on the spot, as it were, without any prior rational calculation. Therefrom flows the ephemeral character of the fetish, its ‘identity’ being constituted purely by chance, therefore unreservedly amenable to mutations that may confer radical alterations to its structure. The musical product can be thought of in the same terms. An artist’s profile, that is the elements that make up his/her identity, changes constantly as the effect of promotional strategies that aim at targeting the artist to particular audiences. Witness the case of Madonna. Her profile has changed radically over the years, while accommodating divergent elements under the same name. Madonna’s image shifted from the sadomazochistic libertine of her ‘Erotica’ album (1994) to the pious mother in her recent ‘Ray of Light’ (1998). Madonna’s profile is the outcome of different promotional discourses that reconfigure the ‘event’ by bringing together heterogeneous elements, either in the form of text or photographic and music materials. “The stockpiled commodity they produce- an imaged name- represents a banked and transferable store of promotional capital. As such, its results are detachable from the practices and products in whose immediate context they have arisen” (Wernick, p.109). Or, to put it shortly, the name of the artist is a simulacrum, the meaning of which will be analysed in due course, that sustains all the elements that feed in its dark continent. The fetish, then, is like a sculpture, on which heterogeneous elements are constantly inscribed. Madonna is a
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These operations are responsible for re-directing the flow of the primary ‘event’ in the following way: “The material, stripped to a large extent of its relations, is submitted to a process of compression, while at the same time displacements of intensity between its elements necessarily bring about psychical transvaluation of the material. The displacements we have hitherto considered turned out to consist in the replacing of some one particular idea by another in some way closely associated with it, and they were used to facilitate condensation in so far as, by their means, instead of two elements, a single common element intermediate between them found its way into the dream. (Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Penguin 1994, p.454).

product on which this inscription assumes an ideographic character. Essentially, she resembles a wax-tablet on which the ideas of sexual liberation, emancipation, escapism are inscribed. The consumers’ identification with her image, her fetishistic inscription on the sphere of inter-subjective communication, either in the form of gestural imitation, apparel, whistling of lyrics or import of discursive elements in verbal communication, is laden with a desire to access the primary event, to be delivered from the necessity to trace the chain of cultural signifiers in order to approximate the primary signifier, the repression of which allowed consumers to enter the symbolic order of culture in the first place. Therefore, the function of Madonna or the fetishistic meaning-laden musical product in general, is equivalent to the function of the taboo, the forbidden that cannot be accessed save only through the dissimulating behaviour that replicates the process of primary repression, whence stems the oblivion of the ‘demand’ laid upon consciousness from the unconscious. 2.6.2 What is the Taboo and how does it help us understand the way whereby consumers of musical products gain access to their unconscious wish-fulfilment? “Taboo is a Polynesian word… The meaning of taboo, as we see it, diverges in two contrary directions. To us it means, on the one hand, ‘sacred’, ‘consecrated’, and on the other ‘uncanny’, ‘dangerous’, ‘forbidden’, ‘unclean’. The converse in Polynesian is noa, which means ‘common’ or ‘generally accessible’. Thus ‘taboo’ has about it a sense of something unapproachable, and it is principally expressed in prohibitions and restrictions” (S. Freud, Totem and Taboo, p.18). One of the functions of the taboo is to “guard the chief acts of life- birth, initiation, marriage and sexual functions, etc., against interference” (idem., p.19). What Freud means by ‘against inteference’ is the preclusion of any activity that might deviate from the normal execution of these activities. Any deviation, that is any disregard of the legitimacy of the taboo in controlling the behaviour of its subjects, is met with punishment. The ultimate punishment, of course, is death or the impossibility of further transgression. One of these taboos is consciousness or the ego. The transgression of its boundaries amounts to the dissolution of the notion of selfhood, and concomitantly the lapsing into the dark continent of the unconscious. The ego is a taboo for the simple reason that it guards against the ultimate transgression, which is the defiance of primary repression, this function being responsible for entering the symbolic order of language. In so far as Lacan posits the Phallus as the primary signifier, which must be lost in order for the individual to enter the order of language, that is the chain of interlocking cultural signifiers, it assumes the role of a taboo of the highest order. This means that its defiance is accompanied by what Freud described as ‘uncaniness’, that is the fright that arises as soon as the ‘object’ (or the event) that is the object of primary repression is gazed in its nudity (i.e. unveiled, with no fetishistic images to make up for its absence). The primary signifier or the Phallus was rendered by Lacan in symbolic notation as ‘$’ (the barred S), which points to the split of subjectivity that originally takes place at the moment it enters the symbolic order of language, i.e. the order of cultural signifiers. Any further attempt to identify itself with these signifiers or dislocate itself from them, is translated into an attempt to recuperate the ‘object’ that was lost at the event of the splitting, and at the

same time as the inevitable failure of this attempt. Therefore, fetishes as significatory condensations of the elements that have been displaced from the realm of the event (or the realm of the Reel) into the order of language, are responsible for the maintenance of the prohibitive function of the primary taboo. Alternatively, the primary taboo is infinitely refracted in its mirror-images or the signifiers that fetishistically make up the image of the artist, its name. “Normally the purchase of a good does not violate the displacement rule. It does not summon the larger system of which it is a part5 and so expose it to empirical scrutiny and proof. What is being bought is not the whole bridge but a small part of it” (McCracken, p.112). Madonna is a phallic woman, in so far as she upholds the primary taboo of the phallus. The disparate constitutive elements of her image, that is the aesthetic features of the musical product (lay-out, musical content, textual backdrop) act as inscriptions of the prohibitive function of the phallus. Alternatively, the phallus is disseminated in the order of language, like the pieces of dismembered Osiris awaiting to be recovered at the point where the mutating possibilities of the hyperreal pastiche, figuratively called Madonna, will have been exhausted (the impossible possibility par excellence). Therefore, each particular signifier is the inscription of the bar that split the consuming subject into two at the original point of immersion in the order of language, that is the system of temporarily encoded signifiers. The musical product, and its constitutive ideographic elements, is, therefore, a taboo that prohibits inasmuch as it reveals the ‘object’ or the ‘event’ of prohibition, an object that has always been absent from the order of language, and, indeed, allowed this order to be constituted as such by virtue of its absence. This absence is the main reason why the image of the musical product does not represent something that is present in the Real (as though a one-to-one, symmetrical relationship might hold between them), but rather it is an instance of the refraction of the absent primary signifier (the phallus). “Iconic experiences promise such a compelling reflection of reality that, in their presence, it is easy to forget Burke’s warning that all signs also entail and undeniable deflection of reality” (Kent Grayson, The Icons of Consumer Research, p.15). ‘Madonna’ is the heading of the multiplicity of these instances, what holds together, as an ideal aether, the imagistic elements that make up her profile. Hence, the musical product does not have an image, insofar as ‘image’ implies a pictorial function, but rather it is a simulacrum. 2.6.3 What is the simulacrum and how does it help us understand how musical products as simulacra impact on consumer psychology? “The simulacrum possesses no identity, since it is difference in itself and it only appears by disguising itself. The intensity, the potential energy of metastable states, the force of individuation, only reveals itself to the empirical existence of common sense as a masked
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At this point we should raise an objection, as regards the ‘summoning’ of the product. In contrast to McCracken’s view we hold that the product perpetuates the displacement of meaning precisely in its capacity to summon the general system, or, in symbolic notation, the capacity of ‘S’ to summon ‘$’. This summoning was called by Lacan ‘Demand’ (in contrast to ‘need’ and ‘desire’), a fundamental demand laid upon the subject by the Real for displaying it in ‘full nudity’, which is the impossibility that motivates the infinite displacement of signifiers and consumers’ identification with them.

difference, and reveals itself in the disjunctive use of the faculties as implicated difference, difference-in-itself, and difference from itself. In both cases, it discloses itself as a simulacrum” (Ronald Borgue, Deleuze & Guattari, Routledge 1989, p.60). The notion of simulacrum dates back to Platonic idealism. “Plato distinguishes between the idea and its physical embodiment, between the model and the copy, but he also occasionally discriminates between the good copy (eikon) and the bad copy (phantasma) or simulacrum” (idem., p.56). For Plato a surrealist painting would be a phantasm, that is a fleeting inscription, a bad copy of the original ideas of the Good and the Beautiful. What images are copies of is the eternal realm of immobile Ideas. On the contrary, for Freud and Lacan, what images are copies of is the absent ‘event’ that generated the chain of cultural signifiers in a process of displacement and condensation. Therefore, the concept of ‘eikon’ or ‘image’ becomes redundant, and what we are left with is ‘fleeting phantasms’, ‘heterogeneous elements’ that came together purely by chance in the form of a disguise. The musical product is a simulacrum so long as its identity is not constituted as a result of its being a good copy of an Idea, but rather as the temporary fixation of the flow of the unconscious. This flow is equivalent to what was termed in the introduction to this dissertation as the ‘Real’, and it is its inaccessibility that is masked by the simulacrum. Or, as Baudrillard puts it, “it masks the absence of a profound reality. It does not refer to any reality whatsoever. It is the simulacrum of itself” (J. Baudrillard, Simulation et Simulacres, Editions Galilee 1981, p.17, italics in the original, my translation). The simulacrum is not about a distinction between essence and appearance, model and copy. “It is not a degraded copy, but rather it releases a positive potentiality that gives birth to both the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction” (Gilles Deleuze, Logique du Sens, Editions de Minuit 1970, p.303). This positive potentiality that gives birth should not be conceived in terms of a causal nexus, but rather in terms of a ‘process of signification’ (processus de signification), as Deleuze stresses. “It should be conceived in the sense of signs issued in the process of signification, in the sense of a ‘costume’ or a mask that gives expression to a process of un-masking or, behind every mask, another one…” (idem, p.304). To recapitulate, the simulacrum is different than the image, and indeed prior to and responsible for its formation for the following reasons: First, contrary to the image, it does not presuppose an object external to itself that causally necessitates its emergence. It is not a representation of something that is out there, framed in a shot, but a sign or trace of itself. It is self-produced and self-subsistent. It alters constantly in itself, allowing for new signs to emerge in the process of the signifying chain, which emerges as a result of its production. Second, it does not perform a representative function, but rather conceals a radical absence, which is that of the Real, or the primary process that takes place in the unconscious. Insofar as the latter is the ‘Other scene’, in Freud’s terms, the simulacrum is the scenario that translates the coming-together of heterogeneous elements into the discursive order. The musical product as simulacrum is precisely this pastiche of heterogeneous elements that produces and at the same time differs from itself. Its place in the realm of the Hyperreal is demarcated in terms of its capacity to give an aural and visual rendition of the primary process of the unconscious libidinal flow, thus setting the stage on which the

recuperation of the absent ‘event’ is enacted. The absent event refers to the silent splitting of the subject, and assumes its place in the Hyperreal as the silent ground that cannot be affected by the mutations that take place in the structure. Consumers, as phantasmatic subjects made up by a multiplicity of the audiovisual renditions of the event, are not distanced from the signifying process that alters the fabric of the simulacrum. By inserting the signifying effects of the simulacrum in the sphere of their communicative exchanges they participate in the establishment and enhancement of the stage-setting of promotional discourse, that is responsible for translating the primary process into identifiable and communicable signs. Consumer-identity is embedded in and shaped by the hyperreal space that infinitely produces and alters the simulacra that are part and parcel of the music industry. 2.6.4 Conclusion to the triadic definition of the musical product Musical products do not exist without consumers and vice versa. This simplistic statement points to the not-so-simply discernible remark that they are both embedded within an all-embracing sphere, that of hyperreality and simulacra. Both subjects and objects are the effects of an abstract productive machine (the body without organs, as Deleuze & Guattari put it) that generates simulacra. This generation is of a discursive order, that is of the order of aural, verbal and visual language that is created by different promotional discourses aiming to infuse cultural signifiers into the market, emblems of everyday-life and perspectival renditions of the absent event of the splitting of subjects. The musical product is a fetish, a taboo and a simulacrum at the same time, all three terms accounting for the functions it performs in the context of the subjects’ attempt to recuperate the event, to reach the originary point of their entry or birth in the order of discourse as a circular closure of each particular individual’s odyssey. The desire to close the circle by subscribing to distinctive parts of the signifying chain is always met with its constant failure and renewal. Or, as McCracken puts it on a more intuitive level, “When goods serve as bridges to displaced meaning they help perpetually to enlarge the individual’s tastes and preferences and prevent the attainment of a sufficiency of goods” (G.McCracken, Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities, Indiana University Press 1988, p.105). Therefore, the consumption of musical products is hedonic, as it accords with the subjects’ pleasureprinciple, and at the same time something in ‘excess’ of that. The ‘excess’ surfaces in the ecstatic feeling that is generated in certain moments of the consumption of musical products, and in particular in activities that emerge as effects of promotional activities, like the participation in live-shows. The stage-setting guarantees a religious experience, which is orchestrated in a ritual of lights, sound, smoke, costumes. Let us now proceed to show in what respects the consumption of musical products is hedonic, as well as in what respects it is ritualistic.

2.7.1 Hedonic consumption Pt.I: Is pleasure-seeking the driving force behind the consumption of musical products?

Let us begin by procuring a definition of ‘Hedonic Consumption’. “It explores the consumption experience not as an information processing event but via a phenomenological or experiential view defined as a ‘primarily subjective state of consciousness with a variety of symbolic meaning , hedonic meaning and aesthetic criteria’ ” (Holbrook and Hirschman 1982 quoted in K.T.Lacher, Hedonic Consumption: Music as a Product, p.367). Before proceeding to analyse how hedonic consumption might help us to understand consumers’ relationship with musical products we should first reconsider some aspects of the definitions. On the one hand, the term ‘subjective state of consciousness’ is not only tautologous, given that consciousness is either used interchangeably with subjectivity, but fails to account for the phenomenon of pleasure-seeking, and even beyond that. Above we dealt with the notion of ‘taboo’, and attempted to examine its relevance to musical products. In that section emphasis was given to the phenomenon of the splitting of subjectivity, as the necessary precondition for entering the symbolic order of language. The event of the split does not simply generate ‘pleasure’, but rather a mixture of pleasure and pain, what was termed by bearing on Lacanian terminology ‘Jouissance’. Jouissance is a mood that transcends joy. It is sometimes described as pain in pleasure and accompanies ecstatic experiences. The consumption of musical products, i.e. products invested with sacred value, as Belk stresses, is to a great extent ecstatic, i.e it urges the consumer to exit his/herself and enter the realm of the ‘eternal’, where perfection with regard to one’s ideal self resides. Temporal immobility is indeed one of the central aspects of a cultural icon. Just like in Eastern religious practices where “the eternal quality of icons is due in part to the belief that every service of worship was a celebration of the total victory over death” (Fishwick 1990, p.94). However, this self is not necessarily interpretable. Individuals that consume the products that are part and parcel of the music industry are not merely responsive to stimuli that constitute the outcome of rationalised marketing processes. They bear the burden of ‘articulating’ the message by recreating it in their imagination according to not always specific needs and desires. A more common word for jouissance is ‘fun’ (although it does not capture fully its semantic depth). Simon Frith has concluded that after all else has been said, “the essence of rock…is fun, a concept strangely neglected by sociologists…and fun has to do with sensuality, grace, joy, energy, vigour, exhilaration” (Frith 1978, p. 206). Jouissance is an experiential state that precedes the formation of subjectivity or overcomes its boundaries. Therefore, hedonic consumption, or ‘jouissance consumption’, properly speaking, is not motivated by a conscious effort to discern certain elements in the product that align with a pre-existing self-concept, at least not necessarily. The angle from which we wish to approach hedonic consumption as responsible for sheding light to the consumptive phenomenon of musical products prioritizes a less subjective view-point, where the ritualistic act of fusion with others who are equally fascinated by the aesthetic elements of the product becomes eminent. We shall return to this point in due course. On the other hand, what is listed as one of the determinants of hedonic consumption, viz. ‘symbolic meaning’ is not clear how it actually operates. In what respects are musical products symbols, and what do we mean by symbols in the first place? If ‘symbols’ are used in the sense appropriated from symbolic consumption, as expressing abstract ideas,

then it is clear the phenomenon of hedonic consumption cannot be exhausted in this way. This does not imply that symbolic consumption becomes redundant, but it is placed on a second order. In order to illustrate this point we shall refer for once more to the promotional technique of the live-show. People who attend live-shows do not primarily seek to express certain ideas about style, world-view, behaviour, even though these could be convincingly cited as explanatory reasons for participating in the event, but rather seek an escapist fusion in the magical (hyperreal) world of entertainment. This is why consumers are not always clear why they attend live-shows. From participant observation in numerous live-shows so far, I’ve gathered that the attendance is an ecstatic experience, based solely on the pleasure of the spectacle. Let us now review Hirschman’s points and discuss their relevance to the issue at hand. First and foremost, what is successfully called ‘fantasy-fulfilment’ is at the explanatory core of hedonic consumption. “Fantasy fulfilment purchasing is the use of products to help construct fantasies and augment reality. It was our argument in the introduction that in the Hyperreal, imagination and reality co-mingle, and in fact the former is responsible for the creation of the latter, as Baudrillard stressed (cf. Introduction for reference). Hedonic consumption is motivated by the drive for maximising pleasure, that is for proliferating one’s adherence to visual and aural renditions of the absent signifier, in short for the enrichment of one’s fantasy-world (The role of imagination in shaping the Order of the Imaginary that precedes the Symbolic Order in Lacan’s system, will be dealt with shortly). Hirschman also stresses that ‘escapism’ is a tendency that is generated from the wish to avoid unpleasant events and circumstances. Even though no further mention of what those circumstances amount to, as well as how pleasant products or events actually make up for the experienced displeasure, we wish to offer an alternative interpretation of ‘unpleasure’ that accords with our aforementioned exposition of the splitting of subjectivity. The style of our argumentation is phenomenological in essence, that is it deals with the discursive structures that help us ascribe certain general interpretive categories to observed instances. Hence, un-pleasure is not the result of a one-to-one causal relationship between circumstance and reason for buying a record or attending a live-show, but rather the outcome of the failed attempt to recuperate the primary signifier, the Phallus, that is responsible for the original split of subjectivity. The more complex the imagistic whole of the record’s layout or the sound /vision whole of a live-show the more the consumer’s attention is decentralized, that is focused on a multiplicity of diverse aesthetic elements. This results in the following paradox that lies in the heart of hedonic consumption: The more aesthetic elements feed in the consumer’s perception, the less satisfaction s/he gets out of the whole experience. We have already explained why every attempt to recuperate the primary signifier is doomed to failure, as the impossibility to exhaust the consumptive alternatives hovers over every experience. In so far as the aesthetic elements are loaded with meaning in the context of a general cultural sphere that circumscribes pleasure-seeking activities, it becomes evident that culture is also the generator of unpleasure. Therefore, the way fantasy-worlds are created in the consumption experience of musical products is laden with both pleasure and displeasure, that is jouissance. The image reveals as much (and even less) as it conceals. This is why musical products are ‘revelatory’ in nature, as they provide a glimpse of the inapparent

side of the simulacrum, and at the same time force consumers more deeply into oblivion, as the outcome of the loss of the primary signifier, whence stems displeasure. The final point I wish to stress with regard to hedonic consumption concerns Lacher’s partial treatment of the musical product as ‘music’. This means that she disregards the equally important aspects of the product, i.e. packaging, label-reputation, artist biography, that are inextricable determinants of the style of music at hand. Her concentration on what she calls ‘personality traits’ imposes an ego-centred viewpoint on the examination of hedonic consumption, thus paying insufficient attention to the group-effects on individual’s preference of a particular musical style. In addition, this account fails to take into consideration how participation in a group of an act’s followers is responsible for creating the ritualistic character of consumption of musical products. This is the next step we shall take in analysing how particular promotions techniques are responsible for creating the product-concept and how consumers inscribe and alter this concept in their inter-subjective communicative exchanges. 2.7.2 Hedonic Consumption Pt.II: Consumption as the pleasure of ritualistic fusion.

We have already stressed the importance of shifting our focus from an ego-centric perspective towards an inter-active, inter-subjective one. The main rationale for this shift lies in that the previously mentioned ‘cultural codes’ become operative only in the sphere of communicative exchanges, that is in the circulation of legitimate signifiers in the trajectory of intra-group discourse. “People look to specific musics as symbolic anchors in regions, as signs of community, belonging, and a shared past”6 (John Street, (Dis)Located? Rhetoric, Politics, Meaning and Locality, in Popular Music - Style & Identity, Willstram et al. [ed], The Centre for Research on Canadian Cultural Industry and Institution 1995, p.257). This point was confirmed by Sarah (singer of the popular act Dubstar, signed by EMI) who stressed that “A song is like a book. You can travel in its pages, reminded of past experiences” (interview conducted in Manchester 11/97). Thus, the code of ‘stardom’ is sustained once the followers of a particular musical act adhere to the set of practices it postulates. The musical product assumes the character of a cult and its consumers are elevated to the status of disciples. “The behaviour of activated fans and activating stars can, in the practice of the ritual of the star-cult, work to produce a positive psycho-social experience of ecstacy” (Konstanze Kriese, Rock & Ritual, op.cit., p.187). “The expressive power and excitement of a live performance depends upon the ambiguity of its symbols and images and the ability of the audience to relate them to their personal socio-cultural experiences and thus derive their own meaning from them” (Cohen, Rock Culture in Liverpool, p. 94). The emphasis added on the element of ‘ambiguity’ inherent in musical symbols and images aims at linking this observation to our analytical framework, in the sense that musical images or, better, simulacra, retain a fundamental ambiguity that is evinced in the ways of the irrational modes of
“There is another imaginary merging of differences in ‘memory’ ads in that our past and memory of the past, are confused with someone else’s. We are shown a hazy, nostalgic picture and asked to ‘remember’ it as our past, and simultaneously, to construct it through buying/consuming the product” (Williamson 1978, p.158)
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displacement, substitution, condensation. Insofar as the image of the musical product is a coming-together of heterogeneous elements, ephemerally ordered, it is implied that they can be reordered by different consumers according to particular perceptions, livedexperiences and aspirations. Thus, the aural and visual experience of a musical product is inherently polysemous, i.e. it consists of multiply layered meanings. The musical product is always open to interpretation, therefore it can be targeted towards different audiences, as well as different individuals within audiences. Thus, it is a customized product, as it is exchanged for different things according to individual consumers’ expectations. And yet, they all participate in a common consumptive predicament, be it the live-show, the exposition to a print-ad or the reading of a review. But where the sacred character of the musical product, that is its capacity to veil the ineffable Real that underpins the simulacrum, comes forth most forcefully is during what Belk called ‘sacralizing processes’. In his article he points to the direction of a future research into the “cultural consequence of the sacralizing processes” (Belk et al. 1989, p.31). He stresses that “Sacredness exists at a cultural level to ensure the ongoing integrity of culture itself. Through definitions of sacredness, culture hallows itself, working to compel belief” (idem). We have already shown how the cultural values inscribed in musical products are metaphorically invoked through the reproduction of their aesthetic features in the sphere of communicative exchanges. “Through such ritualization an individual becomes preferentially imprinted by an object while a culture simultaneously reproduces its critical structural categories” (idem). What remains to be shown is how these values circulate. We are of the opinion that their dominance is reproduced not via consumers explicitly referring to them in inter-subjective communication, but rather in a communal fusion, that is in the participation in a mystery. The stage-setting for this mystery, as already hinted at in the section on the ‘taboo’, is procured by the ‘paraphernalia’ (or ‘neo-tribe paraphernalia’7, to use Ritson & Elliott’s term, 1995, p.1044) of the music industry, which consist of the stage-appearance of the band, the photo-sessions, the lay-out, the musical style. The stage-setting is responsible for the creation of the ‘star’, viz. the “ mobile sign which can be linked to any practice, product or language, freed from any message or set of values. The star is no longer an individual measured by their creativity, their authentic relation to their performance, or
Mafessoli (1995) explored the phenomenon of ‘neo-tribalism’ into great depth. He stressed that “these transitory affective collectivities emerge within complex societies which have given way to a polytheistic ‘swarming multiplicity of heterogeneous values’. This draws attention to features of the contemporary world which more rationalistically orientated sociologists are apt to neglect: the persistence of strong affectual bonds through which people come together in constellations with fluid boundaries to experience the multiple attractions, sensations, sensibilities and vitalism of an extra-logical community, the embodied sense of being together, the common feeling generated by a common emotional adherence to a sign which is recognizable by others” (Featherstone 1995, p.47, my emphasis). The most manifest observations of these constellations’ members can be made during live-shows: “Different genres of music have become associated with and signify different images, which in turn connote particular attitudes, values and beliefs. At the same time the visual images connote certain sounds. This is most apparent at live performances . When male hard rock fans share the long hair, leather, buckles and bodily postures and imitate the musicians on stage by playing imaginary guitars; and when rap performers and audiences share training shoes, baseball caps and styles appropriated from sportswear and cement their bond further by trading in mutual insults” (Negus 1991, p.127, my highlighting)
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even the possibilities of an audience projecting its fantasies on to them. The star is a commodified and mobile sign, moving across the broad terrain of cultural tastes and entertainment”.(Grossberg et al., Cultural Studies, Routledge 1992, p.319) Many authors in the Consumer Behaviour literature (Solomon, Hirschman, Belk) have discussed the symbolic value of products, but few have developped a formal system in order to account for the ways whereby consumers become products and vice versa, beyond a mere description, backed by a quantification of product use/symbolic value equivalences (such as the product image/self concept congruence hypothesis. For more detailed criticisms of psychological accounts cf. Elliott’s points exposed in the Methodology section). We might call musical products ‘social representations’, following Elliott, that is representations “composed of two mental entities, concepts and images, and the iconic aspect usually dominates the abstract in the construction of a figurative nucleus” (Richard Elliott, Exploring the Symbolic Meaning of Brands, British Journal of Management, Vol.5, June 1994, p.S17). “Social representations are shared images that permit us to give objects, persons and events ‘a definite form, locate them in a given category and gradually establish them as a model of a certain type, distinct and shared by a group of people’” (Serge Moscovici et al., Social Representations, Cambridge University Press 1984, p.7). “The theory of social representations holds out the prospect of eluding the limitations of linguistic meaning-structures and engaging with the complexity of a constructed world of both reality and illusion. These interpretive approaches to meaning need to be applied to the study of brand symbolism in order for us to better understand the complexity of what brands mean to consumers” (Elliott, op.cit., p.S17). We believe that a psychoanalytic perspective can help us if not to understand, at least to gain interpretative insights into the phenomenon of what we called ‘simulacral consumption’. This model operates at the borders of symbolic consumption and fills in some of the ‘black holes’ in its universe. The model has been devised in order to account for the ways musical products as the outcome of distinctive sets of promotional discourses stage the settings and set the stage for the enactment of consumers’ unconscious processes. This qualification does not preclude its potential interpretative force when it comes to related sites in the hyperreal realm of the ‘Entertainment Business’ (for similar psychoanalytic excursions cf. Sarup, op.cit., pp.146-160), but guards against hasty generalisations that result when inductively produced categories are elevated to deductive principles. Upon returning to our analytical corpus, it must be noted that the way ritualistic fusion among consumers inscribes the aesthetic features of musical products in the formers’ behaviour is parallel to the way the simulacrum effects on consumers. That is through a process of ‘contamination’ (one of the sacralizing processes, according to Belk), meaning that the features of the product circulate in the bodily and verbal communicative sphere. They are transferred magically, as it were (a word that imprints its inexplicable character, you can call it intellectual animism- sic), through a process of repetitive imagistic reflections of the one over the other, or in a ‘Do what the other does’ way, to put it bluntly. The non-rationally mediated circulation-reflection of these cultural signifiers points to the simulacral, instead of symbolic, character of this transference, which is sensorily conditioned by the ‘gaze’. The ritualistic fusion functions at the order of the Imaginary rather than the Symbolic, whence the primacy of the ‘gaze’ (mirror-reflection)

and the specular image, which is translated into a cultural code only once striated on the value-grid of the Symbolic. Let us recall that, for Lacan, the Imaginary precedes the Symbolic, while operating in complementarity with it. I believe that this is the main reason why marketers’ and A&R members pay more attention to the ‘image’ of the artist, rather than the ‘message’ s/he conveys. Because the ‘specular experience’ is always stronger in terms of its long-term effects on the consumer’s unconscious than a rationally calculated text. By the way, this accounts for the increase in films ticket-sales, and the ‘crisis’ in book-sales. To recapitulate, the musical product is a taboo that caters for consumers’ need for ecstatic experiences, that is for experiences that deliver them from their phantasmatic identity and relocate them in the irrational realm of unconscious processes. The processes that replicate the ‘other’ processes (taking place in the ‘other’ scene, as Freud put it) were termed ‘sacralizing’ by Belk, because they are responsible for maintaining the sacred character of products. ‘Contamination’, being one of these processes, is responsible for transferring the aesthetic features of musical products to the communicative (communal) sphere within which the consumptive experience is embedded. Contamination takes place in the context of the specular experience in which the images that guard the centre of the simulacrum are reflected back and forth in the consumers’ uncosncious wax-tablets. Where does this sacralizing process become more apparent, if not in the live show? “Public events resemble sacred, religious ceremonies, as exemplified by…the reverential lighting of matches at the end of a rock concert” (Solomon, Consumer Behaviour, p.620). And by a slight conceptual detour into the land of the fetish, consumers gain jouissance from the specular experience, that is the mixed feeling of pleasure from temporarily identifying with a decentralised signifier, and pain caused by the permanent absence of the centre of the simulacrum.

2.8 Conclusion What was all this about? In short, about consumer-psychoanalysis in relationship to musical products. Psychoanalysis differs markedly from traditional consumer behaviour approaches in that it does not prioritize certain personality-traits and dispositions as inherent in individual subjects. It posits a ‘fundamental lack’ at the centre of subjectivity, and three distinct orders that account for the ways in which this lack is transformed into meaningful experiences, and perpetuated at the same time. The way meaning is produced is through distinct sets of discourses, the term encompassing linguistic, gestural and pictorial structures. These structures are primarily created by various promotional discourses, that build on a set of cultural values, and at the same time expand them, thus altering incessantly the cultural landscape. This landscape is the ‘hyperreal space’ within which the identity of consumers, and the groups in the activities of which they participate, assumes form. The music industry plays an indispensable part in forming this identity by procuring sets of aural, visual and verbal signifiers that constitute the essential ‘paraphernalia’ around which the communicative exchanges of group-members revolve, as part of the sacralizing process of ‘contamination’. The consumption of musical products is fetishistic, calling for an imaginary identification with the ‘speculum’ of a

hyperreal world, prohibitive, perpetuating the absence of the primary signifier (the taboo of the ‘phallus’), and simulacral, i.e. based on the ‘cultural icons’ that are self-subsistent and possess the ‘magical power’8 of attracting hordes of disciples. What remains to be shown is how distinctive promotional techniques shape these ‘icons’, as well as how the effects of the simulacra are inscribed in consumers’ everyday comportment towards their peers, and reflected back to promotional discourses, thus recycling the spiralling movement of the co-creation of meaning. In Chapter 4 it will be shown how the exploratory methods of focus-group discussions and in-depth interviews can help us gain useful insights into the phenomenon of ‘simulacral consumption’ of musical products. Meanwhile, let us proceed to give a descriptive account of which promotions techniques and how they are used in the music industry, as well as examine ‘who’ make up this industry.

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“Magic produces effects in time and space: it transforms one thing into another, just as we can make objects in the ad stand for the people who possess them; it can transport something to a different place..” (Williamson 1978, p.139)

3.INDUSTRY OVERVIEW

3.1 Introduction: Promotions techniques and their place in the music industry In the introduction to this dissertation it was claimed that promotions techniques are actually responsible for producing the musical product. First, we should be clear about what we mean by promotions being part of the production process. What seems at first glance a major mistake becomes acceptable if we view the function of promotions techniques in the music industry not simply as an attempt either to create awareness of a new cd or enhance sales by bombarding consumers with repeated advertising messages, but as actually playing an indispensable part in the production process. As many authors have stressed, the musical product (i.e. record/cd/cassette) belongs to a quite distinct category of products (like films and books) that are characterized by both high-involvement/high psychic investment and value, and high intangibility. The ‘value’ of a musical piece is not easy either to describe or price on the basis of tangible features, which means that it has no intrinsic value. Its evaluation is to a large extent dependent on the personnel of the record company’s marketing department who devise the content and structure of the advertising message, design the press release sheets that convey the relevant information about an act to be distributed to the press, and decide on the proper communications media to be used and press-people to be contacted when a new product is about to be launched. Therefore, the value of the musical product is not intrinsic, but depends on the perceptions of many people involved in the different ‘nodes’ of the network of the music industry (as will be illustrated in the next section), as well as on the perception of the consumer who stands at the final part of a long chain. People who work in the promotions part of the industry are mainly responsible for creating the ‘primary image’ of the product, the ‘secondary image’ being that created by the press-people, and the ‘tertiary image’ being that created by consumers themselves (cf. Section 2.2, fig.1). Having shown how promotions techniques are responsible for creating this image, we should proceed to outline the various promotions techniques used in the music industry. The most popular techniques usually employed are: • • • Advertising Sales promotions Public Relations

Amongst these three tools, the first two are by far the most popular when it comes to promoting the product. The third one is popular among business members. Below follows a description of what and how these tools falling are employed. For our analysis we shall draw upon P.Kotler’s comprehensive listing of the various promotion tools:

3.1.1 Advertising Record labels when advertising their new releases use both print and audiovisual media. It is difficult to say which medium is more popular, as their use depends on the advertising budget of individual labels for individual products, and the promotion goals that have been set. Each particular advertising tool has its own benefits, as well as its own costs. 3.1.1.1 Print Advertising Print advertising is normally used when a new product has been launched in the market. Its design usually includes a picture of the record’s front cover and/or a picture of the band-members. The advertising message is usually a catch-phrase stressing certain qualities of the record that are valued by the audience, borrowed either from a previous press review or coined by the members of the label’s advertising department. The benefits of print-advertising are, firstly, timeliness, that is informing the target-audience about the release one week or more (according to the sales-forecast), secondly, durability, that is the reader is exposed more than once to the advertising message while skimming through the magazine’s or newspaper’s pages, and thirdly, it is a good word-of-mouth communicator. In addition, as Kotler (1997, p.651) stresses, it covers a selective geodemographic area. 3.1.1.2 Air-play Air-play is normally used, like print-advertising, at the introduction phase of the Product Life-Cycle. It is less costly than print-advertising, but lacks some of the important advantages yielded by the latter. It lacks durability, as the listener is exposed to the message in passing. This means that in order for the label to increase its effectiveness it has to increase the frequency of transmission, which raises its budget significantly. However, frequency of transmission is not the only variable that affects sales-figures. Seasonality must be taken into consideration, which means that not only must the product be launched at the right place and on the right time, but that the pre-launch time-period must be determined as closer to the release of a new product as possible. Inefficient timeplanning in the past has resulted in consumer dissatisfaction due to the unavailability of products. “Some singles are now being presented to radio up to nine weeks before release. Many are massive radio hits before they’ve even charted but retailers are experiencing the downside of this marketing ploy. Every week hundreds of potential customers wander into a record store and ask for a single only to be told it isn’t released

yet. How many lost sales do we really suffer every week because record labels are paranoid about week one chart positions rather than customer satisfaction?” (Marketing: Too much, too soon?, in Music Week). Chart-placement of singles allows companies to make sales-forecasts, with the accompanying decisions about volume of production and promotions expenses. When it comes to musical products, radio-advertising is often a more fruitful medium, as the product is not simply promoted through jingles, but through air-play of recorded material, live shows, and interviews. It has been a trend over the last 25 years to invite bands to perform tracks from either forthcoming or recently released records live on the radio, which is a very appealing and cost-free advertising tool for record-labels (However, it is unclear whether live shows are a form of advertising or sales-promotions). The selection of particular radio-programs that appeal to specific targeted audiences by record-labels secure them a certain number of sales, soon after the release of the product. Programs like Steve Lamacq’s Radio 1 Evening Session and John Peel’s session are regarded as the ‘seal of guarantee’ for successful air-play. The broadcaster is viewed as the primary consumer, whose opinion has more gravity and potential influence for further dissemination of the message through word-of-mouth communication.

3.1.1.3 TV Advertising TV is the most expensive medium for advertising musical products, and it is preferred for highly commercial records, like Madonna or the Verve. It does not have the benefits of selectivity, and durability. Although, just like with air-play, effective communication is secured through bands’ live performances in popular programs, like Top of the Pops. TV advertising, due to the short PLC of musical products, is not the most favourite promotion tool for record labels, unless it is part of a promotional campaign for a high-profile artist.

3.1.2 Sales Promotions 3.1.2.1 Samples There are two main types of samples used. First, advance (or promo) copies of upcoming releases are distributed to the press. These copies either contain the full track-list of the album or part of it. Second, sample-tapes or cd’s are distributed to the consumers either through the press or at live shows. These samples usually appear in the form of a compilation of tracks from various artists that are signed up with a record label. 3.1.2.2 Price-packs Reduced-price packs are used by record labels to stimulate short-term sales, particularly when they want to empty their stock or when the season is favourable to reissuing back-

catalogue items, which are subsequently sold at low or mid-price. The promotional benefit of this technique is that if its employment coincides with the recent success of an act’s latest release, the record-label can both return this release to a previous stage in the PLC, after its place in the charts has started to decline, as well as capitalise on its chartplacement for selling back-catalogue material. For example, “EMI’s decision to issue Radiohead catalogue at mid-price for a limited period of time to exploit the interest surrounding the release of OK Computer resulted in a sales surge that saw the album Pablo Honey dominating the mid-price charts and selling more than 100,000 units” (‘1998: Year of the Mid-Price Star-Wars’, in Music Week). In addition, it is often the case that retailers will decide about reduced price-packs, on the basis of the stockavailability of past releases. In contrast, independent labels tend to use this tool for more pragmatic reasons, as their limited financial resources do not allow them to keep certain products in stock after a specified period of time. 3.1.2.3 Premiums (gifts) “Merchandise offered at a relatively low cost or free as an incentive to purchase a particular product” (Kotler 1997, p.664) Two kinds of premiums are usually employed by record-labels: 1.With-pack premium, “it accompanies the product in-pack or on-pack. The package itself can serve as a premium” (idem, my highlighting). “For the casual browser, eye-catching sleeves can make the difference between no sale and an impulse buy. Despite an ever diversifying market, record labels still regard packaging as one of the most important tools for attracting customers and subsequently achieving chart success” (‘Is the Jewel case past its sell-by date?’, in Music Week). With-pack premiums vary from insert posters, photos, vinyl colour, to extra products ( such as a limited edition single or album accompanied by a second album with extra live tracks, for example). “Despite the regulations, record companies, artists and designers are still committed to giving additional formats a unique selling point through their packaging. The priority is to build profile as well as shift extra units. Consequently special packaging is identified as particularly important for fledgling bands with singles targeted at acquisitive teenagers. More often than not these projects are handled by in-house design teams who aim for the novelty factor” (“The Exclusive Band of Packaging Pioneers”, in Music Week 17/5/97). 2.Free in-the-mail premium “is an item mailed to consumers who send in a proof of purchase” (idem) Such items range from box-sets (for keeping an artist’s collection of singles, for example) to newsletters, informing consumers about an act’s and/or label’s future releases and/or tour dates and interviews. Merchandise has always been a very profitable area in the music industry. As an additional feature to the image created around a musical act, merchandise is instrumental in building and maintaining a fan-base, which structures its life-style around the imagery created by the promotional discourse of merchandise. Industry people have recognised that “If we are to survive, we’ve got to behave the same way as the fashion industry” (Chris Parkes, Merchandising for Life, in “The Big Sell”, Music Week 26/7/97). “At this

level, merchandising has unlimited- and more lucrative- retail possibilities. BIG is currently handling the licensing of an Action Man-style Peter Andre doll to be sold into stores alongside mugs and bedspreads. Boyzone, too, are diversifying. In September they launch their own range of perfumes, birthday cakes and even a fizzy cola drink” (idem.). The availability of merchandise has also significantly increased the profit margins of retailer chains. “Posters have better margins than previously recognised and are low maintenance products”(idem.). As regards primary consumes (that is press people and dj’s) “things like slipmats, mousepads and record-bags are ideal promotional items, as they’re functional and that usefulness means that they’ll be around as a reminder to a DJ or a journalist when a label’s next record is released” (idem.). “As with all forms of merchandising, posters are only as successful as the bands they depict and companies have to second-guess the trends of a fickle market. ‘We try to go for things that are going to be around for a long time, not the one hit wonders’, says Copley Dunn” (“Those Little added Extra”, in Music Week 6/12/97). Gifts, such as branded dolls or clothing, are also used as rewards for loyal retailers and incentives for new ones. In the context of this dissertation the function of music-related merchandise will be explored in terms of its power as ‘communication vehicle’ among groups of consumers. 3.1.2.4 Fan-Club A fan-club is very useful for creating a loyal customer-base. It is based on the rationale of premium gifts, that is adding extra value to a purchase. Consumers who join fan clubs are described as the ‘die-hard’ fans of an act, and range from people who dedicate a considerable part of their daily lives talking about their preferred artist or even following them on their tour. A striking example of ‘die-hard’ fans is given by the people who followed the famous blues/rock band Grateful Dead all around the world. These consumers tend to structure their lives around the image of the band, in this example around the image of the ‘easy-rider’, bohemian type, and are highly influenced by the effects of iconicity (cf. 2.4). “The Grateful Dead rank as one of the most, if not the most, active marketers in rock’n’roll, even after the death of band leader Jerry Garcia. In addition to having been one of the world’s highest-grossing live music acts the group boasts of a series of licensed products. Without the concerts, the Grateful Dead had to come up with a new way to attract future generations of followers. The newest innovation has been ‘The Goods of the Dead” (Marketing News, Vol.31, Sep.29 1997), a fan-club based mail-order list that allows fans to acquire band memorabilia. Fan-club members receive premiums, like posters and badges, and sometimes limited edition records with exclusive recordings. 3.1.2.5 Free-trials Free-trials are normally used at the point of purchase, that is the retail outlets. Specially designed stalls equipped with cd-players and headphones allow the consumer to listen to the product before purchasing it. Trials through the Internet have also gained increasing popularity over the last three years, where the consumer can visit the web-site of the record-label and listen to parts or the whole song(s) from a new release.

3.1.2.6 Point-of-sale Displays Point-of-sale displays include posters with the title and cover of a new product used in retail outlets. Retailers tend to be confused by the vast number of posters and promotional gadgets they receive from record labels. Aware of this fact, labels sometimes, and depending on the centrality and popularity of a retailer, propose to decorate the shop for free, if the retailer agrees to place their records and posters at a prominent position. 3.1.2.7 Below-the-line advertising/ Special events The shift in allocating promotion expenses from advertising to sales-promotions over the past thirty years is widespread. Especially in the music industry, a particular form of sales-promotions, viz. below-the-line advertising or the organization of special events is considered a more effective promotional means than advertising. Also, the degree of customer loyalty is often measured by the level of participation in these events. Three major types of events are used in the music-industry: 3.1.2.7.1 Live shows They denote the appearance and performance of the musical act in front of an audience. The cost-effectiveness of this tool depends on the already established popularity of the artist. In some cases the label (and less often the artist) will make some profit out of the gig, whereas in other cases the costs will significantly outweigh the returns. For example, when the Rolling Stones play live, it is highly likely that their shows will be sold-out and highly profitable, whereas when Mogwai ( a newly signed post-rock band, highly acclaimed by national press) play live it is likely that the returns will just manage to balance the costs of organizing the show. In other cases the profit made out of a live show, depending on the type of contract the band has signed with the record label, will be re-invested on the recordings and promotional expenses for the next record. For example, Jay Gray (keyboard player of the very successful neo-rock band Kula Shaker, run by Sony Music) said that they didn’t make any profit out of their 2-year long world-tour (including an appearance in front of a 20,000 audience in Tokyo), as it was agreed in their contract that any profit made during their tour would be allocated to the recordings and promotion costs for the new album (personal interview 10/12/97). In general, the effectiveness of the live-show in terms of returns has been radically re-evaluated over the last few years. “Gone are the days when bands could squeeze a living out of touring the UK independently of record releases, or, indeed, of record contracts. Costs are now so high that only the best established acts can afford to go on the road without significant injections of cash from their record labels. Consequently, the majority of record labels still regard touring as little more than an arm of promotion and marketing and are reluctant to support live dates unless they coincide with the release of product or can be used as a tool to boost first-week sales” (A Gig Too Far?, in Music Week). 3.1.2.7.2 Club-events

The most popular event other than live shows is the organization of a special night in a club, where a new record is played for the first time and gifts (ranging from T-shirts to branded condoms!) are given away. 3.1.2.7.3 Press-conferences Press conferences are usually organized either on the initiative of the record-label itself or in conjunction with a sponsor. They aim to present the act to the press-people. Incentives for positive coverage, such as alcoholic drinks, luxurious hors d’oeuvres, free records, and sometimes promotional mobile-phones, and other gadgets are provided during the course of a press-conference. 3.1.3 Public Relations A ‘Public’ is defined by Kotler (op.cit., p.671) as “any group that has an actual or potential interest in or impact on a company’s ability to achieve its objectives”. Given this definition we can infer that a record label’s viability depends on the ways whereby it can build and maintain positive relationships with the main publics concerned, viz. the presspeople and the consumers. Public relations tools are not always distinct from salespromotions tools, as it is often the case that they constitute aspects of the sales – promotions functions. As with sales-promotions, the task of public-relations is to create an interface between the primary consumers (press-people) and secondary consumers (the purchasers). Three major types of public relations can be singled out: 3.1.3.1 Press relations This function is performed by the press-office, the operations of which are described in the next section. 3.1.3.2 Product Publicity “ Sponsoring various efforts to publicize specific products” (Kotler, op.cit., p.671) The various tools falling under this type were described in the ‘Below-the-line advertising’ category of the previous section. As an example we mention the sponsoring of the NME tour by Miller during January 1998. This event was an attempt by the popular musical newspaper NME to promote 4 new acts (Asian Dub Foundation, The Audience, Warm Jets, Stereophonics) appearing live in 10 selected venues all over the country under the sponsorship of Miller beer. 3.1.3.3 Lobbying Owners and top executives of record companies have always been involved in the political arena in order to promote the cultural value of their products. Alan Mc Gee, the owner of Creation rec. (an indie label distributed nation-wide by Sony Music, which also

deals with foreign press and public relations. It is worth noting that the vast majority of minors and independents are now distributed by majors, as an outcome of the so-called ‘consolidation’ process that took place in the early 80’s) has made generous donations to the Labour Party. The Beatles were elevated to the status of ‘knighthood’ by the Queen for their cultural impact around the globe. Lobbying is a very important public relations tool as it increases record labels’ influence over legislative procedures. 3.1.4 Conclusion These are the main tools record labels use for promoting their products and image. Their place in the hyperreal space of the music industry is a central one, as they are primarily responsible for building the product-concept in terms of the primary image of the product. As regards the frequency of use, a shift in emphasis from advertising to sales promotions and public relations has occurred over the past twenty years, as an attempt to create an interface between producers and consumers. “The intertext of product promotion has become absorbed into an even wider promotional complex founded on the commodification, and transformation into advertising, of produced culture itself” (Wernick 1996, p.95). The impact of these techniques on consumer psychology remains to be explored. The hypotheses we shall test by drawing on the proposed research methods will be exposed in Ch.4. Meanwhile, it would be advisable to give an overview of the music industry, in order to provide a clearer picture of where this ‘promotional intertext’ stands within a complex virtual network.

3.2 THE VIRTUAL ORGANIZATION: APPROACH TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. 3.2.1 Introduction

A

NETWORK

MARKETING

The Network approach to marketing has become increasingly influential over the past decade as a result of its ability to provide a descriptive account of the framework within which the multiple, interconncetd roles individuals assume are embedded. The significant theoretical steps taken by the IMP group have yielded a conceptualization of how complex buyer-seller networks operate. Alternative approaches have been made towards describing how particular industries are organized as a web of interlinking and interacting departments, which cannot exist independently of each other. The music industry, in particular, displays a high degree of complexity as regards its formal (not to mention its informal) infrastructure, which has not merited any analysis hitherto. “The infrastructure is made up of several team players, all of whom play a part in developing an artist’s career: the artist, the management, the record company, the publisher, the agent, the promoter, lawyers and accountants” (The Guardian 23/8/97).

This infrastructure is sometimes called a ‘virtual organization’, due to its latent character, that is due to the fact that it cannot be exhaustively described in a formal way, like the various parts that make up a living organism. Rather, its parts extend in ever-new directions, like the pseudopods of an amoeba, to use V.Mitchell’s ‘organismic metaphor’. As Ibarra (1992) stresses, “it is not clear how much of the network organization is emergent or prescribed”. The characterisation of networks as virtual organizations is extremely important in this theoretical orientation that seeks to support the thesis (without any claims to apodeictic value) that consumer behaviour with regard to musical products is a manifestation of chance-events and cultural forces working at a wider cultural level, as identified in the introductory discussion of the hyperreal space. In this section we shall delve into a preliminary description of how the distinctive parts of this structure are dynamically interrelated, and how the actors that constitute its most important human assets cooperate in order to bring about the common goal of making a musical act popular and meet the profit-driven goals of record-comoanies. The information provided has been compiled in part from personal experience and discussions with people working in the relevant fields (also cf. 4.3.3), and in part from literature dealing with the various processes involved in the production of musical products9. The objective of this section is twofold: -Firstly, to illustrate the distinctive ‘nodes’ of the network in numerical order, with no hierarchical significance, given that network models have been suggested as a response to traditional entrepreneurial hierarchy. -Secondly, to illustrate how these nodes interlock in the form of concentric circles, the centre of which is the record company, and the periphery is occupied by the various directly and indirectly related areas of interest. This picture is regarded as valid when examining the product where its tangible features are concerned, like the production of the music, the pressing of the cd, the designing of the cover. An alternative picture, however, is valid when examining it from the viewpoint of its ‘cultural significance’, where the impact of the various ‘cultural mediators’, as have been defined by bearing on existing literature, alters the relationship between the centre and the periphery ( INSERT CONCENTRIC CIRCLES FIGURE). The concept is derived from the work of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and refers to an emerging social grouping concerned with the production and consumption of consumer cultural imagery and information, working in such areas as marketing, advertising, design, public relations, radio and television, journalism, research, consultancy, counselling and the helping professions.

3.2.2 Top management of the record company The record company is obviously the core of the virtual organization. Before analysing the role of its top management, we should, first of all, clarify the distinctive kinds of record companies, according to their size. R.Burnett distinguishes three major categories: “First there are the transnationals or majors, who control the lion’s share of the market, manufacture and distribute their own product. Second, there are the middle tier or minors,
A useful reference in this field is Michael Wale’s ‘Voxpop: Profiles of the Pop Process, Harrap London 1972
9

smaller companies who tend to gain their share of the market by making production and distribution deals with the majors, or with independent studios, presses and production facilities. Third, are the “alternative or indie labels” which operate less conventioanlly than the majors through a network of independent, often short-term contacts and contracts. They place their emphasis on cheapness of production and often have localized networks of production and distribution” (1996, p.49-50).In majors the top management personnel are responsible for making the final decisions about which artists are going to be allocated the financial resources necessary for recording the music, pressing it on cd/vinyl/ cassette, packaging the product and marketing it by using one or more of the promotions means available. The only people that may influence their decisions are the president of the company and the shareholders. If it is a small, independent company, top management functions are usually performed by the owner and trained personnel. Decision-making about developing and marketing new acts is an extremely strenuous process, especially for majors, such as Warner Bros, given that “a new band will have cost the record company between $500,000 and $1,000,000 by the time the records are released” (‘Is this industry heading for rock’n’roll suicide?’, The Observer, 16 Nov. 1997). These figures exceed K.Negus’ estimations who reported that “at the beginning of 1990’s a major record company in Britain anticipated having to spend between 250.000 – 330.000 over the first 18 months of an average deal for a new act; roughly broken down into 100.000 for advances to the artists, 150.000 for recording costs and 80.000 for basic promotional expenses” (Negus 1992, p.45). Due to increasing production costs labels’ decision-making has shifted emphasis from building long-term careers to manufacturing quick hits. At this point it is important to provide some historical information about the five major players in the popular music industry: 3.2.2.1 SONY MUSIC “In December 1987 the Japanese consumer electronics corporation Sony paid $2 billion to purchase CBS Records division from its American parent company Columbia Broadcasting Systems Inc. At the time of the sale, music, including music publishing, accounted for just 25 per cent of the corporation’s total turnover; broadcasting for approximately 40 per cent. In addition to seven book publishing companies and more than 60 magazines, CBS subsidiaries included toy manufacturing, Steinway pianos, Fender guitars and Rogers drums. Sony Music has plants in over 40 countries. North America is its biggest market, representing 50 per cent of total sales. Europe accounts for 30 per cent, while Japan for another 10 per cent of world sales” (Burnett 1996, pp.51-52) 3.2.2.2 WARNER MUSIC “Warner Music is the music division of Time Warner Inc., the result of the 1989 merger between American-owned Time and Warner Communications. Warner Music is thus the outcome of a number of mergers. The beggining of Warner’s record production was in 1958 when the Warner Bros movie company formed a record label, Warner Bros Records. Warner took over Reprise Records in 1964. Warner and Reprise comprise one of three Warner subsidiaries in the field of record production, the other two being

Atlantic (acquired in 1967) and Elektra/Asylum (acquired in 1970). Warner Communications also includes movie, television and publishing interests, Atari Inc., Knickerbocker Toy Company, major shares in Coca-Cola, major shares in Bausch and Lamb Optical and several US Cable TV companies. Warner’s most important marketing areas are the English-speaking countries, USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Warner is the fastest growing transnational record company internationally with sales tripling between 1975 and 1990. Of all the transnationals, Warner Communications is the most media and software oriented. Thus its turnover has been the most volatile as its various divisions have prospered or suffered, depending on changing market conditions. Music accounts for approximately 26 per cent of its sales and films for 30 per cent, but because of the corporation’s deep involvement in film these proportions can change significantly year to year on the basis of blockbuster successes or flops” (idem., pp.5253). 3.2.2.3 THORN EMI & VIRGIN MUSIC GROUP “Thorn-EMI is the result of the 1980 merger of the two British firms, Thorn Electronics and EMI Records. EMI was formed in 1931 as a result of a merger between the Columbia Gramophone Co. and the Gramophone Co. Columbia and Gramophone continued to compete until they took the common EMI name in the 1960s. In 1979 EMI acquired the American United Artists record company. Ironically in 1980, 25 years after selling to Thorn, EMI itself was bought in its entirety by Thorn. Music now accounts for some 28 per cent of Thorn EMI total turnover. The merger of the hardware oriented Thorn and the software-oriented EMI was clearly planned with an eye to the video and cable revolution. Thorn-EMI was an early owner of the now defunct Music Box satellite channel. ThornEMI can now produce the hardware to go along with the software. As a result of its imperial past and subsidiaries formed in the 1920’s, Thorn-EMI also has a strong foothold in the expanding Asian markets, with even a manufacturing plant in Peking. The purchase of Virgin Music Group was particularly interesting. Virgin was established in 1970 as a UK mail order company by Richard Branson. Virgin soon moved into record production, and opened record stores that have grown into a major chain. In the 1980’s Virgin had diversified into youth-culture related activities such as films, music videos, books and a transatlantic airline company. The purchase of the Virgin Music Group, the last of the major independent labels, brought such stars as the Rolling Stones and Janet Jackson under the EMI umbrella. In a further attempt to strengthen the company position in the field of music, EMI purchased the SBK Entertainment World, a publishing company, and also another major music publisher, the Filmtrax Copyright Holding corporation. A series of aggressive acquisitions has included Chrysalis Records, SBK Records, SBK Entertainment World, all in 1989. In 1992 EMI spent $960 million to purchase the Virgin Music Group. These moves have won EMI 15 % of the global music market, and EMI is just slightly behind the industry’s Big Three: Warner Music, Sony Music Entertainment and Polygram” (idem., pp. 53-54) 3.2.2.4 POLYGRAM

Polygram is a management and holding company originally based on the interlocking relationship of Phonogram (owned by the Dutch Phillips Electrical) and Polydor (owned by Deutsche Grammophon, which is a subsidiary of the German electrical corporation Siemens). It is Phonogram International and Polydor International that produce and market records under the Polygram umbrella. Thus Polydor plus Phonogram equals Polygram. Polygram’s labels include the Phonogram-controlled, Phillips, Vertigo, Mercury, and the Polydor-controlled, Deutsche Grammophon, Polydor and MGM. In addition, Polygram took over Decca, the renowned British firm, and bought a majority of shares in Casablanca in 1980. Polygram is today involved in manufacturing, production, marketing and distribution as well as publishing. In a bid to boost its weak position in the US market (a problem it shares with EMI and BMG), bought A&M Records in 1989 and Island Records in 1990. It also acquired the US distribution rights to Motown in 1991, and took the logical step og buying the label outright in 1993. A significant presence in the American market is vital to all transnationals since it represents by far the single most important music market in the world. Polygram is also into film production as well as television and music video specials”. ( idem., pp.54-56). In 1998 Polygram joined forces with Universal under the general label of Seagram. 3.2.2.5 BERTELSMANN MUSIC GROUP (BMG) The Bertelsmann Music Group is a division of one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, the German Bertelsmann Publishing Group. BMG became a transnational player by purchasing American RCA records in 1986. RCA did its best business in the 1930’s and 1940’s when it rivalled Columbia as the top American label. In the last two decades it has achieved a powerful international position. BMG has updated its production and made major changes within management. These changes have been directed at improving the company’s position in the rock market. In this regard BMG has in the 1980’s acquired both the European Ariola-Eurodisc label and the American Arista Records which was originally formed in 1974 by Columbia Motion Pictures. The publishing (books, magazines) and record industries are its principal activities in the global marketplace”. (idem., pp.56-57) 3.2.2.6 Conclusion It should be noted that the competitive position of each of these record-companies in terms of market-share is quite flexible, due to shifting market trends that alter continuously the competitive landsacpe, as well as due to mergers and acquisitions that confer changes to the companies’ organizational structure. 3.2.3 A&R department The Artist and Repertoire department is usually based at the headquarters of the record company and normally comprises of 1-3 (sometimes more, according to the size of the record company) members. These individuals are the ‘talent-scouts’ of the company, those who look for new talent to be exploited and developed. The A&R personnel do not

necessarily have any formal qualifications, but they must be able to discern catchy tunes and acts with potential. Their job is to frequent clubs where gigs take place in order to meet unsigned acts and suggest contract terms to them, as well as expand their framework of acquaintances so that they can learn about new artists before anybody else does. Lavish rewards are given to the A&R members for signing up successful acts, as well as fearful reproaches for those who do not yield the company the forecasted returns. In general, the members of the A&R department are confronted by great anxieties due to the opportunistic nature of their job and the pressure from above to discover a minimum amount of acts for a designated time-period for new product development. It suffices to say that ASH, a very popular indie/rock band, the sales of which has reached a seven-digit number all over the world, was first contacted by an A&R member of Infectious Records after an old classmate of his mentioned them in the course of a friendly discussion! 3.2.4 The artist The artist is responsible for creating the audible content of the musical products (next to the visible one, which is the cover and insert design, as well as the design on the cd). Stuart Worthington, head of training and education at the International Managers Forum (IMF), the industry’s trade organization, insists that “Without talent the whole of the industry’s infrastructure falls apart” (The Guardian 23/8/97). The artist is responsible for devising a particular sound that matches an established musical trend, or inventing a new one. Especially in the music industry it is very difficult to decide whether a product is innovative or involves a dynamic continuity with previous products, as it is, as a rule, up to the perceptions and comprehension of individual critics and personal opinions of consumers to decide about the degree of novelty. An interpretation of the multiple functions performed by the artist within the hyperreal space occupied by the musical industry, and with regard to consumer psychology has been already analysed in Ch.2 and will further explored in Ch.5. 3.2.5 The Marketing Department “Marketing does not merely involve record companies transmitting products and information to potential audiences, who then rationally select from what is available. Marketing stuff must actively construct consumers as identifiable markets”. (Keith Negus, The Discovery and Development of Recording Artists in the Popular Music Industry, PhD Thesis Southbank University 1991, p.120) The marketing department of a record label mostly plays a coordinating role. Its personnel is responsible for establishing and maintaining a communicative link between individuals working for different departments, like the producer (who is responsible, as the title denotes, for developing the artist, including controlling the recording procedure, interacting with the A&R personnel, the gig-organizers, designers), and the A&R personnel. Also, they are responsible for establishing and updating a database of all the contacts involved (either directly or indirectly) with a particular act. Depending on the artist, the number of people that are included in the database, may number from 100 to many thousands. The database includes people that range from journalists to individual

consumers. According to Pat Carl, marketing manager of the independent British label ‘Infectious Records’, who manages popular names of the indie/rock scene such as Symposium and Ash , the number of people included in the database for the first act reaches the figure of 55,000, while for the second the figure of 27,000. Their database is continually monitored and cleared of unnecessary names. The importance of creating a loyal fan-base has been recognized over the past five years. As a rule, fill-in cards are included in new releases that guarantee the sender transmission of updated information in the form of a quarterly newsletter. Sometimes questions in the form of a miniquestionnaire are printed on the card that ask the consumer to give information about whether s/he liked the design of the product and/or the music. Thus, monitoring consumers’ perceptions on a constant basis, labels are able to take on a proactive strategy as regards the supply of new products, as well as forecasting the potential success of new trends that are introduced in the market. However crucial the function of the marketing department in a record label may be, it is often the case that the persons involved are not clear about the exact difference between marketing and a sales department. Pat Carl’s first response when asked ‘What are the basic functions of a marketing department?’ was ‘To sell, really’. However, as it emerged in the course of the discussion, she had many more roles to perform than just sales, even though profitability is the key-task for small independent labels who have to strive against big players (personal interview 2/98). 3.2.6 The Press Office (or PR Department) The Press Office is either an autonomous agency, i.e. not owned by the record company, or an in-house department, i.e. directly controlled by and accountable to the recordcompany’s management, specialising in promoting the musical product to the various communications media, including magazines, newspapers, radio-stations, night-clubs, television. It may also be the case that the work load is divided between a private agency and label-owned department, according to whether the label is dealing with domestic or foreign press. For example, foreign press for the famous band Primal Scream is dealt with by Sony Music, whereas domestic press (UK) is dealt with by Bad Moon Productions (Private Press Office). The main functions the press officers are called upon to perform are the following: 1.To put together biographical information about particular artists in order to create a profile that differentiates one musical act from another. The biographical information is usually accompanied by photos and promotional copies of upcoming releases. These three components make up the standard ‘promotional package’, as it is called, that is distributed to the various parties concerned with communicating the profile of the act to the targeted audience. 2.To establish and control a database of the individuals working for the various communications media, that constitute the connecting link between production and consumption. Normally, certain individuals, who have been favourable towards a certain act, are prioritized in the list of contacts. The database, as a function of MKIS, also involves keeping a file of all publications relevant to particular acts, which in turn, serve as a useful background and additional profile feedback for future releases by an act.

3.To arrange for interviews of the artist with particular communications media, in order to give a first-person view of the aims of a new product with regard to the expectations of the consumers. However, especially in the music industry, the concepts of consumerexpectations and level of satisfaction are very difficult to measure beforehand, as popular trends change with a speed that is perhaps unparalleled in any other industry. Therefore, the element of risk with regard to consumer satisfaction about a new product is minimized by record labels through a number of strategies. Usually, before the release of an album, a number of tracks in the form of a single are put out at a ‘friendly price’ (ranging between 1-3 pounds) in order to instigate trial from the consumers. This allows the company to calculate the potential for profitability when the album finally appears in the market. Below we cite a figure listing all major in-house and independent PR offices and the acts they manage. INSERT FIGURE FROM MUSIC WEEK AUTONOMOUS PR OFFICES IN THE UK 3.2.7 The Journalists Journalists are press offices’ primary target group and constitute the opinion leadership team. Their role is to form opinions about new releases, either by presenting it in radioshows, or writing reviews in newspapers and/or magazines, or presenting it on screen. It is very important to recognize that, since the advent of the Internet, journalists are not regarded as such strong opinion-leaders as they used to back in the 1960’s, which marked the blossoming of the music industry. The possibility created by this innovative communicative medium for individual consumers to express their opinion and even set up unofficial web-sites (as opposed to official, i.e. directly established and updated from the record company or the press office), multiplies the centers of opinion to such an extent as to render the traditional function of the journalist obsolete. Especially when someone is dealing with products the primary content of which is music it is very difficult to give a descriptive account of objective features, for the simple reason that they do not exist in the first place. The essence of the product is the outcome of discourses on it, and their capacity to superimpose upon each other rests with the relative influence the opinion-leader exerts on his/her audience. Usually, journalists rely for their descriptions on general features, like the musical trend to which an act belongs, its value in maintaining or furthering established trends (like, for instance, ‘ this record is a fine moment in the history of pop/soul’ or ‘this record shakes the foundations of the rock establishment’, in general cliches that communicate the musical identity of the artist to the consumer), and its psychological value (such as, for example, when journalists stress the ‘cathartic’ effects of the music, that is its capacity to cleanse the soul from any anxiety and transfer the consumer to another plane). Journalists as ‘cultural mediators’, have a much more important role than any of the aforementioned individuals working for the different nodes of the virtual organization, as their impact in attitude and value formation is tremendous. If one only thinks of the great speed whereby their opinions multiply and disseminate in the sphere of everyday discourse, and given the contagious character of LISTING IN-HOUSE AND

signs when it comes to communicating the features of a product (i.e. multiplying through word-of-mouth communication), we can see that communication is structured to a large extent on the basis of opinions formed by journalists. 3.2.8 The DJ The DJ is responsible for playing a record in a club, thus monitoring people’s preferences according to their degree of participation in the tune established by the song. The inclusion of a song in a dj-set performs the function of either creating awareness of a new act or repeating older hits, thus potentially regenerating demand for previous products. 3.2.9 The retail outlet The retail outlet is one of the most significant loci where the effectiveness of promotions is manifested. The placing of merchandise and free-trial stalls in strategic positions is likely to influence consumers’ purchase-decisions. Belk at al. (1989, p.10) stress the ‘religious’ importance of retail outlets by naming them “the public cathedrals that enhance the mystery and sense of otherworldliness of the sacred”. An ongoing debate has been raging over the past two years about the potential substitution of store-retailing through internet-retailing. This debate also involves the potential shift from cd-production to downloading them through the Internet. Also, artists such as Oasis have opened merchandise stores on the Internet. Of course, this alternative will save record-companies a huge amount of financial resources currently allocated for the purposes of manufacturing and distributing their products. However, “industry insiders scoff at the idea of the traditional record business becoming obsolete as musicians and fans learn to bypass existing structures” (‘Is this Industry heading for r’n’r suicide?’ ,The Observer, 16 Nov. 1997). Often, consumers regard the whole shopping experience as a ritual that grants them access to the ‘transcendent’, albeit in a secular manner. The retail outlet is still an important node in the hyperreal space of the music industry, a node that adds to the ‘aesthetic fascination’ surrounding the musical product. 3.2.10 The consumer The consumer is the final node in the virtual organization if examined from the producer’s point of view. However, once the consumer’s cultural significance and his/her contribution in maintaining and furthering the iconic status of the musical product, then s/he moves to the forefront of analysis, and his/her importance becomes primary. This shift is portrayed in the concentric circles metaphor of the virtual organization. The questions ‘Who’ is the consumer and ‘What’ does s/he want from the musical product will be explored in Ch.5. 3.2.11 Conclusion These are the various nodes of the virtual organization of the music industry, the operations of which interlock and interact on the surface of the hyperreal space in order to

produce the cultural artefacts, called musical products. In the next chapter we lay out the methods that will be used in the gathering and analysis of research data, with view to exploring the ways whereby musical products, conceptualized in the context of distinctive sets of promotional discourses, impact on consumer psychology.

4. METHODOLOGY

4.1 Introduction This chapter aims at laying out the objectives of the dissertation, glimpses of which have been given in the Literature Review, as well as the proposed methodological tools to be used for exploring them. The chapter starts from an exposition of the objectives, and continues with an outline of the research design, which includes the rationale for using particular qualitative methods. The description of the qualitative methods to be used ensues, giving its place to the method of analysis of the primary and secondary data gathered from our research. Discourse analysis, being the proposed method of analysis, is described to a certain extent, while commenting on its usefulness for the project at hand, as well as limitations. The chapter ends by an overview of the theoretical field of Interpretivism, in which the general oeuvre of this dissertation is embedded.

4.2 Research Objectives The objectives of this dissertation appear in the form of a set of hypotheses. Three main hypotheses, which emerged in the process of reviewing the relevant literature, will be explored: Hypothesis 1 1a. The ‘primary image’ (i.e. image formed through the various promotions means applied by the primary agencies of cultural mediation, the ranking of which will be decided according to the analysis of the questionnaire findings) and ‘secondary image’ (i.e. image formed through the reflection of the promotion messages on the discourse of the press people, or secondary agencies of cultural mediation) are responsible for shaping ‘tertiary image’ (i.e product-image formed by the consumers). 1b. Certain promotional techniques are more important for shaping ‘tertiary image’ than others. Hypothesis 2 The effect of the product image on consumer psychology is related to the circulation of the constantly re-doubled signifiers in the communicative trajectory that promotes intragroup coherence through sacralizing ritual processes. Hypothesis 3 The circulation of signifiers is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the ‘iconic’ function of musical products. ‘Iconic consumption’ (as against symbolic

consumption, the difference being that whereas the latter assumes a link between the product and the abstract idea it expresses as lying outside of it, the former is a not an instantiation, but a ‘simulacrum’, i.e. a self-refential unit that encloses the meaning it represents) has wider cultural implications for the maintenance of the sacred character of musical products, which is enforced through promotional techniques. The research is exploratory in essence, which means that qualitative methods have been used in order to shed light into the above hypotheses. The rationale for choosing qualitative methods is presented in the next section.

4.3 Research Design The research design encompasses three qualitative methods, viz. meta-analysis, in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions. Before proceeding to illustrate and justify the employment of each in turn, let us ponder for a while at some of the issues that urged us to employ qualitative, rather than quantitative methods.

4.3.1 Why Qualitative methods? Data collected by employing qualitative methods are often described as ‘soft’, because of their flexible character (Gordon/Langmaid 1988). Their opponents claim that the data generated by their employment are not representative of the whole population from which the sample is drawn, due the latter’s small numerical value. In this chapter we do not intend to engage in an argumentative battle with the advocates of quantitative techniques (the usefulness of which is beyond doubt where the production of relevant data within a limited time-frame is called for in order for managerial decisions to be enabled), but rather to point out, by drawing on the existing literature, why qualitative techniques have been deemed more appropriate for the project at hand. On a general level, the task of qualitative research is to “explicate ways people in particular settings come to understand, account for, take action and otherwise manage their day-to-day lives” (Miles & Huberman 1994, pp.6-7), and qualitative data are applicable “where the results will increase understanding, expand knowledge, clarify the real issues, generate hypotheses, identify a range of behaviour, explore and explain consumer motivations, attitudes and behaviour, identify distinct behavioural groups, provide input to a future stage of research and development” (Gordon/Langmaid 1988, p.3). Let us now attempt to illustrate how these key driving-themes of qualitative research match the interpretive oeuvre of this dissertation. Firstly, it is certainly a central aim to ‘identify distinct behavioural groups’. As the quotation from Featherstone goes (Lit.Review Chapter, ft.6), we are dealing with ‘constellations with fluid boundaries’, that is social groups that are not necessarily defined by sociodemographic variables, like gender, class, status, but rather by adopting a

common life-style with shared values and ‘ritual paraphernalia’ that convey these values. Age plays an indispensable part in defining consumer segments when it comes to different genres of pop music (like rock, soul, reggae etc.). This means that, at least, homogeneity in the age of the selected sample must be secured, in order to ensure a minimal commonality in the interpretive repertoires that allow consumers to make sense of the world. In this respect we have concentrated on the teen-market, which has the highest consumption rate for popular music products and merchandise that pertains to the life-styles they suggest Secondly, attitudes and behaviour lie at the forefront of our exploratory research, given that one of the driving hypothetical forces behind this dissertation is that promotional discourses are to a great extent responsible for shaping life-styles by feeding images, words and sounds into the sphere of consumers’ everyday communicative exchanges. Thirdly, it is indubitable that an analysis of how the meaning of musical products is co-created will provide useful input to the future research and development of musical acts, by providing a meta-language which can function as a useful manual for translating and patterning social representations that ground distinctive consumer groupings. In the following section we proceed to analyse the qualitative methods that will be used in the primary and secondary data collection process. 4.3.2 Secondary literature This method is called meta-analysis in the research methodologies literature. The reason for this description is that it is not of inductive nature, i.e. drawing inferences from empirical data, but of deductive character, i.e. imposing a priori models (while allowing for model-revision in the case of a radical mismatch between data and model) on collected data. The rationale for employing this method is that it allows us to formulate a theory of ‘iconic consumption’, and show how in the case of the products of the music industry, promotions techniques enhance their value. This model will allow companies to trace different psychic values that exist in the products for consumers, as “the records companies, whilst they might control the way music is produced, are unable to control the meanings invested by audiences and the uses to which they are put. These are appropriated by various groups and individuals and used for the expression of subjective identities, symbolic resistance, leisure pursuits and musical creation in everyday life”. (Keith Negus, The Discovery and Development of Music Artists in the Popular Music Industry, Phd Thesis, Southbank University 1988, p.8) Meta-analysis draws on a range of paradigms borrowed from the social sciences, with an emphasis on social phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and semiotics. An explanation of the key-terms to be used, as well as their relevance to the present research will be provided. 4.3.3 In-depth interviews As a background to the theoretical exploration of the concept of ‘iconic consumption’, information that has been collected by numerous in-depth interviews with musical acts over the last year, as well as with members of record companies’ promotions and marketing people, will be used. The rationale for this method is that it offers the

opportunity to gain first-person information about how ‘cultural mediators’ reflect on their function within the virtual organisation. Given that the purpose of these data is not to validate our hypotheses, but rather to help in the process of their construction, they do not appear in the Data Analysis chapter, but rather they are cited wherever deemed appropriate in order to add emphasis to argumentative points. “In generating interview data, a range of quite different cases are usually selected, which may, for example, include acknowledged atypical cases such as extremes” (Silverman 1985, p.114). It is effectively a multiple case approach, each case casting further light on the situation as a whole. Generalisation from such research follows what Mitchell (1983) terms ‘a logic of analytic induction’, which is far removed from the logic of statistical inference. It does not guarantee representativeness in the statistical sense, but it is possible to extrapolate results by an appeal to the causal relations which characterise the object of study. In addition, a great deal can be extracted from interview data by interpreting their nature. It is important to recognise that what an interviewee says is usually a partial and rationalised account of what s/he thinks and does, which implies that interpretation has to come into play. This will enable a far more complete reconstruction of the understandings and thought processes of the interviewees than simply taking accounts at face value. Furthermore, what interviewees say or think they do may well differ from what they actually do. Of course, interview data from one interviewee who works in one of the ‘nodes’ of the virtual organisation, for example, may contain misapprehensions about the node’s operations, and indeed it may not be sensible to assume that organisations have a consensual view. But even if this is a reasonable assumption, and given a well informed interviewee, there may still be significant contradictions between what is generally thought to happen, and what actually does happen in reality. On these grounds, responses gained in the process of in-depth interviews are integrated in the interpretive framework of the theoretical model of ‘consumer psychoanalysis’, and the description of the music industry as a virtual organisation, thereby demonstrating the dynamic and on-going character of every interpretive venture undertaken in the realm of the social sciences.

4.3.4 Focus-group discussions This method will be used as part of exploratory research into the perceptions of fans about their preferred musical act(s), as well as promotions techniques (like air-play, live shows, premiums-gifts) they think have exerted an impact on their formation of opinions and attitudes about that act. In addition, an attempt will be made to show how the three psychoanalytic categories of fetish, taboo, simulacrum, are inscribed in their behaviour and help shape their interaction with others. As with every projective technique, focus-group discussions suffer from the limitations of time-consuming interpretation, as well as from the difficulty of making generalisations about the findings, given the limited number of participants. However, the rationale that governs their employment is that, as often is the case when researchers explore the impact of promotions techniques on sales, it is important to gain a first-person view of how image-making affects consumers’ perceptions about the product.

In addition, given that the hypotheses to be explored include the impact of promotions techniques on intra-group coherence, it is important to observe how consumers of a particular musical act behave as a group, i.e. how they are mutually mirrored against each other in the process of communicative exchanges that rely on the employment of commonly shared, meaning-laden signifiers. As Gordon and Langmaid stress “groups can be observed, which is particularly useful for members of the creative/marketing development team who can experience consumer vocabulary, attitudes and reactions first hand…the social and cultural influences on attitudes and behaviour are highlighted” (op.cit., p.11). The selection of the sample will be made on the basis of musical preferences. Minigroups (4-6 participants) have been preferred over the conventional 6-8 group as “focused information is required (for example reactions to press advertisements), and longitudinal information on the individuals is required” (idem, p.12). Representativeness10 has been secured insofar as the focus-group members were selected from the list of the fan-clubs of THE SMITHS, DEPECHE MODE (Virgin Records), MADONNA (Warner Music) and PULP (Polygram Records) in Greece. The fact that the participants are of Greek origin does not limit the applicability of the findings and the discussion that revolves around them to consumers of other ethnic backgrounds, as popular music is one of the ‘global’ products par excellence. “Music speaks a universal language of emotions. Popular music is now the lingua franca for a large segment of the world’s youth population. It’s probably fair to say that music is the most universal means of communication we now have, instantly traversing language and other cultural barriers…Indeed, whereas consumption of other media products is often limited by geographical availability and consumer income, almost anyone, anywhere can listen to popular music, often regardless of whether they want to or not. In this respect popular music is certainly the most global aspect of our ‘global village’” (Burnett 1996, p.1). The discussion will be based on a set of driving themes (a list of which is provided in Appendix I), while giving significant space for improvisation on behalf of the participants, as it is crucial to give them the opportunity to articulate meaning in their own way. The discussions will also include tangible cues, like print advertisements and record covers, as the interpretative ground, and will be recorded on tape. The analysis of the data will be undertaken by bearing on semiological11/psychoanalytic paradigms, against the background of which discourse analysis will be carried out, as it is
The term ‘representativeness’ in this case, is not used in the statistical sense, i.e. the sample being representative of the whole population from which it is drawn, but rather as reflecting its appropriateness with regard to the chosen consumer segment on which this dissertation concentrates, i.e. teenagers who shape great part of their life-style on the basis of cultural imagery offered by promotional discourses. As already mentioned in section 3.1, what we are concerned with here is ‘distinct behavioural groups’. 11 “Semiology is the science that studies the sign systems based on both linguistic and non-linguistic communication. It studies language, non-verbal communication, signs, symbols, etc, and formulates underlying rules that allow simultaneous interpretation of a multiplexity of diverse communication. Semiology extends into social communication such as art, literature, fashion, advertising and product use. The concepts of signs and codes is an important one in semiology. Signs reflect the social mores and social order; codes are the systems into which signs are organized. In advertising, for example, communication takes place when the advertising message (a set of encoded signs) is decoded by recipients of the message. Thus advertising is not only about copy and visual content but about the structural relationships between these and other elements of the message. The responses people make (or stimuli, in general, such as packs,
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of major concern, when analysing consumer behaviour, to pay close attention not only to conscious responses, but to hidden/unconscious implications as well, as Mick stresses (1986, p.207). INSERT FIGURE FROM MICK This is one of the main reasons, as well, why qualitative methods have been preferred over quantitative. “Qualitative methods are privileged within the naturalistic approach because they are thought to meet a number of reservations about the uncritical use of quantification in social science practice. In particular the problem of inapproapriately fixing meanings where these are variable and renegotiable in relation to their context of use; the neglect of the uniqueness and particularity of human experience” (Henwood & Pidgeon, p.16, my highlighting). 4.4 Analytical techniques The primary and secondary data collected by using qualitative research methods will be analysed on the basis of discourse analysis, the task, analytical tools and limitations of which are outlined in the following sections.

4.5 What is Discourse Analysis? Discourse analysis is the study of language seeing it not as simply reflecting psychological and social life, but constructing it. Discourse analysts argue that language, in the form of discourses, is seen to be the functional tool for building a social reality and central to how we think. “Language embodies the ‘sediment’ of social structure and social practices and thus cannot be a neutral medium of description” (Eagleton 1983, quoted in Elliott, p.64) Discourses themselves have been given a variety of definitions, for example, Parker said that discourses were “a system of statements which constructs an object” (Discourse Dynamics, Routledge 1992, p.5). Parker summarizes the meaning of discourses under seven headings, as follows(op.cit. pp. 6-17): 1. A discourse is realized in texts, while texts are “delimited tissues of meaning reproduced in any form that can be given an interpretative gloss”. 2. A discourse is about objects, meaning that “Discourse constructs ‘representations’ of the world which have a reality almost as coercive as gravity, and, like gravity, we know of the objects through their effects”. 3. A discourse contains subjects, meaning that “ a subject is a location constructed within the expressive sphere which finds its voice through the cluster of attributes and responsibilities assigned to it as a variety of object”. 4. A discourse is a coherent system of meanings, meaning that “recurrently used systems of terms used for characterizing and evaluating actions, events and other phenomena… a limited range of terms used in particular stylistic and

products, concepts etc.) comprise a set of layers of meaning” (Robert Worcester & John Downham 1986, pp.47-48).

grammatical constructions organised around specific metaphors and figures of speech”. 5. A discourse refers to other discourses, meaning that “discourses embed, entail and presuppose other discourses to the extent that the contradictions within a discourse open up questions about what other discourses are at work” 6. A discourse reflects its own way of speaking, meaning that a text is articulated in such a way as to convey certain implicit meanings that can be re-worked by showing how its terms interlock.12 7. A discourse is historically located, meaning that “discourses are located in time, in history, for the objects they refer to are objects constituted in the past by the discourse or related discourses”. The main protocol behind discourse analysis is looking at what the discourses present in text are trying to achieve, in order to gain “a better understanding of social life and social interaction” (Potter and Wetherell, 1987, p.25). This is carried out by relating the structure of the language, present in texts, to its desired function, observing the social forces that operate behind utterances. “The question is not so much why people understand one another, or even what they understand, but the organisational forms through which they achieve that understanding” (Silverman, p.118). And more importantly, “Discourse is not assumed to necessarily reflect underlying attitudes and dispositions” (Elliott, op.cit, a point we have made repeatedly throughout the Literature Review, especially while mentioning the weak interpretive value of product image/selfconcept congruence hypothesis). “The relativism and reflexivity which discourse analysis prompts constitutes one more discipline in the social sciences as postmodern” (Parker, op.cit., p.70). Discourse analysts seek to examine how people use language to construct their own social world, and believe that no particular reading of a text is superior to another, therefore all discourse analysis rests on the same level in terms of quality. 4.6 Problems associated with the use of Discourse Analysis As Ian Parker and Erica Burman(1993) has pointed out in his criticism of discourse analysis, there are many fundamental flaws which underlie the process of discourse analysis. According to him, there are six main problems which immediately emerge when developing criticisms of this form of analysis (other problems do emerge, but in general these are just extensions of these six main points.):1. “It is very labour intensive.” - Analysts have to waste time transcribing interviews and sorting out which parts of the masses of information are linked, making the process quite difficult, simply because there is so much information present in the texts.

This systematic approach to discourse reflects what Van Dijk (1997, p.30) calls ‘functionality’, meaning that “later elements in the discourse may have special functions with respect to previous ones”.

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2. “It is difficult to ascertain whether different discourses are present within the text as discrete phenomena, or whether the changes in context are in fact responsible for the changes in meaning.” -i.e. are apparent changes in the text due to the fact that the interviewee has changed the topic they were speaking about or have they just changed their opinion? 3. “It becomes too difficult to view the text in terms of empirical generalisations, therefore the wider context is often not considered.” - Discourse analysts often have difficulty looking at the wider picture as they have usually been concentrating on the particular aspects of a single, specific text. 4. “The methodology of discourse analysis is not rigorous enough, cutting down the variety of possible interpretations made available by the text.” - In general, the way in which discourse analysis is undertaken unfairly limits the number of ways in which the text can be interpreted. 5. “The analyst has the power to impose meaning onto sections of the interviewees’ text which may not have been originally present.” This problem of reading too much in the text is one of the biggest pitfalls in discourse analysis. If analysts do fall into this trap, they are effectively attributing their own meanings onto text which might have been intended to be taken in a completely different light by the speaker, resulting in a considerably inaccurate analysis. For example, interviewees may attribute slang meanings to sentences which the analysts take literally (therefore analysts do require some degree of cultural competence to understand the complete meanings of certain phrases.) In conclusion, these five points seem to shed a rather dim light upon the validity of the technique of discourse analysis. If no piece of discourse analysis is more accurate than other, how can standards be set, and how can an accurate representation of a person’s beliefs be given without being coloured by the attitudes of the analyst involved? This question gives rise to the claims that “Discourse analysis challenges the truth claims and methodological adequacy of the psychological approaches most common in marketing research, in that it is posited that the methods that underlie attitude theory fail to take account of the variability of human thought and bolster a spurious model of thinking as uniform, rational and divisible into equal interval categories” (Burman 1991, quoted in Elliott, op.cit., my highlighting). 4.7 Implications of Discourse Analysis The methodological implications of discourse analysis are multifarious. Here follows a summary of the main points, as described by Elliott (Marketing Intelligence and Planning 14/6 1996, pp.64-67) : 1. Texts used in discourse analysis vary from written reports and reviews to broadcast elements.

2. Sample size is not the major issue, but rather how language is used in accounting for a particular phenomenon. In our case, the employment of discourse analysis in analysing focus-group discussions aims to show how the three elements that are definitive of musical products (fetish, taboo, simulacrum) surface in consumers’ discourse and provide useful cultural cues for the construction of coherent and meaningful intra-group communication. 3. Representativeness is the key criterion, therefore the participation in the focusgroups of consumers with similar musical tastes and life-styles is essential. 4. Variability in accounts (“Interpretive repertoires” verging on distinctive ‘worldsenses’) is crucial, in order to get as many situated reflections on a subject-matter as possible, thus showing the different ways in which meaning can be generated from a single source (be it a song, a cd-cover or a print-ad, a review etc) 5. Generation of patterns that accommodate similarities and differences in responses, allowing for comparisons with the hypotheses that provide the general conceptual framework of the research-project.

My aim is to use certain visible cues (record-covers, press-clips) that have been used as part of promotional discourses in order to shape the image of a musical product, during the course of the focus-group discussions. This method offers the opportunity to elicit certain reactions (both verbal and gestural13) from the consumers that are indicative of the ways meaning is constructed out of the consumptive experience, as well as how this meaning is made part of and reflected in consumers’ daily communicative exchanges with their peers and group members. The responses will be clustered under general categories in order to make inferences as regards the ways whereby the general features indicative of musical products, as have been singled out and described in Ch.2, are inscribed in their situational responses to the aesthetic features of musical products, as it should not be forgotten that the meaning of these features is not readily-given, but constantly mediated by consumers’ receptivity that is shaped by different interpretative repertoires. Discourse analysis is capable of providing insights “but not without the active interpretation of both researcher and reader who co-construct meaning” (Elliott, op.cit., p.66). 4.8 Analysis at work Having thus far dealt with the meaning, limitations and implications of discourse analysis, we should now turn to illustrate the different ways of analysis that have been sugested. The following recommendations stem from Teun Van Dijk’s work on Discourse Analysis (Discourse as Structure and Process, Sage Publications 1997) and will be largely followed in the analysis of the focus group discussion data, presented in the next chapter:

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Given that no video-recording tools were used during the group-discussions, we have to rely on recollections of gestural responses, which are in certain parts enabled by the tone of the voice that can be heard in the recorded tapes.

1. Select a sequence in which whatever interests you occurs, by looking at identifiable boundaries between topics. The selection will take place by isolating passages from the transcribed data and re-ordering them according under the driving hypotheses. 2. Characterize the actions in the sequence, i.e. the actions performed in the course of speech-acts. Speech-acts are discursive entities that accomplish certain actions, i.e. performing a command in the utterance ‘Close the Door’. Group participants accomplish actions in their utterances, either indirectly, through descriptions of past activities, or directly, in the intra-group communication. It will be shown how these actions are reflected in participants’ utterances, and how they reflect group-activity which largely shapes their life-style. 3. Consider how the speakers’ packaging of actions, including their selections of reference terms, provides for certain understandings of the actions performed and the matters talked about. This is a very important step of analysis as it helps us show how the selection of particular adjectives and expressions in the description of events, reflects our preconceived categories (not necessarily, but systemically, i.e. as instances of a meta-reflective discourse attempting to systematise ‘common’ discourse in order to render it operational for future exploration into building the image of recording artists), as well as how these categories, and therefore the entire model of Consumer Psychoanalysis, is in a dynamic relationship with newly emerging data. 4. Consider how the ways the actions were accomplished implicate certain identities, roles and/or relationships for the interactants. It has already been stressed in the previous chapter that particular ‘identities’ and roles is not primarily at issue here. This is the focus of behaviourism, and draws on the deductive assumptions of psychological models. Consumer psychoanalysis, instead, aims to offer a glimpse of the ontological framework of consumption of musical products, that is the generic meaningful totality in which words, images and sounds are invested with meaning as a result of the processes of condensation, substitution and dsiplacement. In addition, as it has already been suggested, instead of placing the notion of a ‘coherent selfhood’ at the centre of our analytical focus, the notions of split subjectivity and ‘phantasmatic unity’ are preferred. Therefore, what will be shown is how certain actions accomplished in the discourse of the interactants suggest a use of musical products, either individually or collectively, as taboos, fetishes and simulacra.

4.9 Conclusion: Interpretivism as a method in Consumer Psychoanalysis References to interpretation and interpretivism (or Hermeneutics) were made in the previous chapter. Further elucidation of the method and its tools is necessitated in order to render the mission of discourse analysis intelligible. Hirschman and Holbrook in their ‘Postmodern Consumer Research’ (1992) stress, by drawing on Gadamer’s seminal work ‘Truth and Method’, that “the hermeneutical task is to attain a fusion of the horizon of the text with that of the researcher” (p.88). In other words, the task of interpretation lies in the realm of creating a match between the interpretive repertoires of the analysands and the analyst. However, they do not place any emphasis on the crucial distinction between

explanation and interpretation, which is one of the main features that distinguish the positivist approaches from the humanities. Explanatory approaches assume that the discourses they weave in order to encapsulate observed phenomena are invested with truth-value about the observed objects. The positivist discourse is a series of truth-claims corresponding to the states of affairs they represent. On the contrary, the interpretive oeuvre does not make any claims to the truth-value of its textual artefact, but aims to elucidate phenomena (or construct them, as the consumptive phenomenon and its surroundings are not just ‘out there’, but depend, to a large extent, on the discourse of the researcher for its existence). It is an aspect-of-seeing, aimed at ‘picturing’ the world and not gaining the whole picture, which is an impossible task. What is crucial in interpretivism is the meta-reflective level of analysis, or the set of categories coined by the researcher in order to categorize or class distinctive phenomena under general categories. “There is no particular reason why this process of conversion of objectlanguages into metalanguages and these latter into object-languages should ever stop. In short, no metalanguage can ever provide an epistemological terra firma from which to contemplate the ocean of sign-systems” (Moriarty 1991, p.89). The difference between interpretivism and traditional consumer behaviour research methods, as we see it, lies in that whereas the former does not ascribe to its categories the status of deductive principles (a point already stressed in the previous chapter), the latter assumes that the ‘observed facts’ are instances or symptoms of its operational categories, as if social phenomena depended upon the researcher’s categories for their existence. Interpretive categories give us insights into social representations and the ways whereby they yield coherence among social groups, which insights, as Elliott &Ritson (1995) stressed, are the outcome of a co-creation of meaning between the researcher and the researched phenomenon. Research, essentially, aims at finding out how consumers relate to their ‘myths’. It is an attempt to ground theory on empirical foundations and vice versa, so that the theoretical model does not sink into the quagmire of mere speculation, as well as the empirical findings do not assume the character of mere chance-events. And as every myth appears in a narrative form, so the consumptive phenomenon can only be rendered intelligible by being deployed in a narrative structure. Discourse analysis is the interpretive method par excellence in which the narrative structure of actions becomes apparent. Given that it is only in action that consumers demonstrate the impact of the ‘code’ construed by promotions techniques, the narrative structure they use to describe this chain of actions will be the ‘primary matter’ on which interpretation will operate. “The logic of action consists in an interconnected series of action kernels which together constitute the structural continuity of the narrative… To explain a narrative is to grasp this entanglement, this fleeting structure of interlaced actions” (Paul Ricoeur, Hermeneutics, Cambridge University Press 1989, p.156). Finally, what is aimed by employing discourse analysis as a method of investigation into the phenomenon of the impact of promotional discourses on consumer psychology in the popular music industry, is precisely the interpretive insights it helps us bring into the process of product imagemaking, of building popular myths that sustain the bonds among societal group-members and demarcate the cultural spaces where everyday action is situated. In the next chapter the methodological tools displayed so far are put into action, and interpretation proceeds

on the basis of the fundamental categories as laid out in the Literature Review in accordance with the hypotheses that drive the analytical focus of this dissertation.

5. Discussion of Research-findings

5.1 Introduction The discussion that follows leans against the background of the methodological assumptions laid out in the previous chapter. It would be sadly banal to claim that the interpretation that will be offered carries ‘bias’, as it has been repeatedly shown how the researcher’s own experience and interpretive repertoire are to a large extent responsible for transforming the analysands’ discourse through another discourse, even more so in

qualitative data analysis. “People, including research people, share common ‘bins’ and ‘causal arrows’ in the ways they construe and carve up social phenomena, and they will use them explicitly or implicitly to decide which questions they think are the most important and how one should go about getting the answers” (Miles & Huberman 1984, p.34). What must be guarded against is the possibility of over-interpretation, or reading more into the text than what is already there, even though it is difficult to decide about this ‘more’. This ‘more’ that resides in the text is the excessive element that belongs to the realm of the con-text. “The context can be seen as immediately relevant aspects of the situation (where the person is physically, who else is involved, what the recent history of their contact is, and so on), as well as the relevant aspects of the social system in which the person is functioning (a classroom, a school, a department, a company, a family, an agency, a local community). To focus solely on individual behaviour without attending to contexts amounts to ‘context-stripping’ with attendant risks of misunderstanding the meaning of events” (Miles & Huberman 1984, p.92). As regards the immediate context, only Group 3 members (Depeche Mode fan-club) had a friendly relationship among them, which they developed through regular club-organised activities. The rest three groups members met with each other in the context of the discussion. As regards the indirect context, and the implications it gives rise to, it will be exposed in the ensuing analysis. The con-text14 is what constrains us from giving an ultimate account of a phenomenon, and at the same time what allows us to offer ever new interpretations. Just as there is no ‘primary event’ per se that constitutes the observed phenomenon, other than its inauguration in writing, in analysis, so the analysis can proceed ad infinitum, or begin perpetually anew. The perspective chosen to account for the observed phenomenon can be linked analogically to the perspective given to the photographic theme by the photographer. The analogy holds insofar as just like the photographer, the consumer researcher imposes as a rule an interpretive framework in his/her field of analysis. “Through photographs, we also have a consumer relation to events, both to events which are part of our experience and to those which are not” (Sontag 1984, pp.155-156). Just like the photographic theme, any analysis is always already a substitute for the source (just like the ‘primary event’ has been substituted in the process of its simulacral effects), a supplement that installs discursive barriers in the various experiential fields. “One wishes to go back from the supplement to the source; one must recognize that there is a supplement at the source” (Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Spivak, John Hopkin’s University Press 1976, p.304).

5.2 Exploring the nature of the research hypotheses

The word is hyphenated in order to show how its grammatical form encloses the meaning of the word, hence ‘com-‘ (from the latin adverb ‘cum’, which means with or alongside) and ‘text’, or what comes alongside the text.

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In this section it will be shown how the primary research findings validate our hypotheses that: (i) a. The ‘primary image’ (i.e. image formed through the various promotions means applied by the primary agencies of cultural mediation), the ‘secondary image’ (i.e. image formed through the reflection of the promotion messages on the discourse of the press people, or secondary agencies of cultural mediation), and the ‘tertiary image’ (i.e. image formed by the consumers) of a musical product constitute its concept, which is the outcome of co-creation of meaning. b. Certain promotions techniques are more important than others in shaping ‘tertiary image’ (ii) The effect of the product image on consumer psychology is related to the circulation of the constantly re-doubled signifiers in the communicative trajectory that promotes intra-group coherence through sacralizing ritual processes. (iii)The circulation of signifiers is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the ‘iconic’ function of musical products. ‘Iconic consumption’ (as against symbolic consumption, the difference being that whereas the latter assumes a link between the product and the abstract idea it expresses as lying outside of it, the former is a not an instantiation, but a ‘simulacrum’, i.e. a self-referential unit that encloses the meaning it represents) has wider cultural implications for the maintenance of the sacred character of musical products, which is enforced through promotional techniques. 5.2.1 Hypothesis 1 a. A semiotic account of the co-creation of meaning In this section a semiotic interpretation will be offered of how the image of a musical product is shaped in the process of co-creation of meaning among primary, secondary and tertiary image-makers. The textual analysis aims at laying bare the context that embeds it, including the ways whereby the three fundamental analytic categories that shape the meaning of the musical product, that is the fetish, taboo and simulacrum are evinced in the structure of the discourse woven by the distinct classes of cultural mediators. The three texts stem from an official Virgin Records press release (October 1997) antedating a tour by the Verve (leading rock act) [PR in the analysis], a review of a Verve live-show from the musical newspaper Melody Maker (17 January 1998) [MM in the analysis] , and transcribed fans’ comments appearing at the end of both of the aforementioned texts [FC in the analysis] (cf. Appendix … for the texts). The interpretation proceeds by singling out phrases that reflect the key-themes raised in these texts, followed by an interpretation along the lines of the analytic categories of this dissertation. 1. “The thing about the tour is it’s the closest you get to living and the closest to going completely crazy at the same time” (PR). “Dragging the needy into another world, another world, another plane, another mind; showing them the other side, reminding them of love, of need, of passion. A POSTCARD FROM THE EDGE OF REALITY”

(MM). “We are making music of its time and people have tapped into it and because of that people relate to it…” (PR). 2. “Tonight, the power could fail completely, the building could collapse, the world could stop spinning and we’d keep singing” (MM). “I think that’s what great music is about… it can have a timeless depth to it” (PR). 3. “…he raises an arm, provoking a riot of sound from the rammed-in crowd, 4,000-odd vocal chords grinding together into a single, terrifying roar” (MM) “But it’s during the quieter songs that this sense of togetherness floods over into the audience, songs like ‘The Drugs don’t work’, which summons a blissful sing-along” (MM). “When we used to go on stage… you’d hear this wall of sound… people can now make sense of it and people individually in the audience have got their own interpretation of the music now” (PR) 4. “the passion’s still there,…the way it melts and freezes your heart in the space of a single note, the way it cares” (MM). “When I’m on stage with my eyes closed… I’m in a beautiful place, in a beautiful space” (PR). 5. “It’s geographical music, it’s global music, built upon Richard’s ‘lucid dreams’, dreams where he can make anything happen” (MM) 6. “I absolutely adore Richard, I think he’s a god and actually I think I follow his religion totally, he’s very spiritual” (FC) 7. “I gave him (Richard) a box with the angel Lucifer on it with some fortune things in it and a key that I wore around my neck when the Verve broke up until the Verve got back together” (FC) 8. “We really got our money’s worth” (FC) The ensuing semiotic interpretation of the above extracts aims to lay bare the relationship between the chain of signifiers established through distinctive classes of discourses and the signifieds they metaphorically allude to. The relationship is meta-phoric, i.e. transposes us to another dimension of discourse, as the etymology of the word suggests (from the Greek verb ‘phero’, which means transpose and the adverb ‘meta’, which means ‘post’ or ‘after’, in this case to another dimension), given that the context underpinning the text is obliquely alluded to. The numerals were used to partition the fragments in order to point out certain driving themes to be explored semiotically. The Verve in the no.1 passages are exposed as ‘sending a postcard from the edge of reality’, and as bringing to light the ‘other side’. A semiotic-psychoanalytic reading of these passages suggests that the Verve is the arche-signifier for the primary signified, what grounds the chain of signifiers that makes up the musical product and at the same time what grounds the ‘reality principle’, which is a hyperreal construct consisting of a multiplicity of simulacra. The Verve are presented in a heroic fashion, having crossed the borders circumscribed by the taboo of the primary signifier, which cannot be found within the grid of significations (see the next two sections for an analysis of the paradoxes for consumer behaviour this ‘absence’, which is the signified, gives rise to), and sending to their disciples a ‘postcard’ (and the use of this term certainly refers to Derrida’s use of the concept in his book ‘The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond’) wherein a fragmentary account (hence the sending of a ‘postcard’ rather than a treatise on the ‘Other’, for example) of what they ‘gazed’ beyond the hyperreal, in the realm of the

‘Real’, is inscribed. And the simulation of this heroic act, which reminds us of Dante’s descent into the Inferno or Hercules’ descent into Hades, takes place on tour, i.e. in the live-show Crusade, which aims to carry the message, or send the postcard, to as many consumers as possible, thus metonymically displacing the Phallus by the signifier the Verve. The heroic narrative continues with an allusion to the ‘atemporal’ and ‘depth’ (no.2) dimensions of this other-worldly experience. Just like in classic narratives the hero defies and upsets biological operations such as birth and death, thus showing the power of ‘culture’ over nature, so the Verve, after having crossed the borders of the hyperreal, are equipped with super-natural powers that allow them to transpose their audience to that ‘other’ dimension no matter what happens. And this other dimension is a ‘beautiful place’ (no.4), i.e. where all becoming has reached an end and Platonic, ideal beauty can be gazed in its nudity. Of course this is a dreamscape (which does validate our use of the three functions of the dream-work in analysing the ways musical products operate in consumer psyche), so the narrative15 continues (no.5) by alluding to Ricard’s [Richard Aschcroft, Verve’s vocalist] ‘lucid dreams’, where anything can happen. But why lucid? Apparently because they are imprinted with the vision of the ‘other side’, where the ‘mask’ of hyperreality has finally dropped and the ‘Real’ can be gazed face to face; which is impossible, as it will be explained in the following sections, as “the simulacrum [sc. which is the constitutive unit of the hyperreal] masks the absence of a profound reality” (G.Deleuze, cf. 2.6.3). This is why The Verve is ‘global music’, as it signifies a common signified that binds consumers around the globe, and the latter is the quest for the absent centre of the simulacrum, with all the concomitant implications for the will-to-consume musical products as taboos and fetishes. Fans follow the same pattern that grounds religious thinking, i.e. uncritical devotion to its a-historic narrative, albeit in a secularized16 manner. “I adore Richard, he’s a God” (no.6) is testimony to this speculative remark. And just as Richard bears the ‘gifts’ of the ‘otherside’, so consumers who are mirrored in this process of semiotic exchanges repeat the gesture by giving Richard personal items, invested with psychic value, like a Angel Lucifer necklace (no.7) that is believed to bring good lack. And what all exchanges boil down to, “We got our money’s worth” (no.8), i.e. portion of consumers’ disposable income was exchanged for a ‘view’ of the otherside. This semiotic analysis, we believe, shows how the narratives employed by primary and secondary image-makers respectively are responsible for shaping the cultural imagery of a musical product, in this case ‘global’, ‘heroic’ imagery, which in turn is inflected in consumers’ personal lives, appropriated as a meaningful hyperreal structure that helps them navigate the vast sea of the Real. The inclusion of fans’ comments in the narratives of the two image-makers also shows how the projected image is re-introjected by its narrators, thus constituting the circular movement of the co-creation of meaning.
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And given that narratives are discursive renditions of past actions (cf.4.8) the narratives at hand are renditions of the ‘actions’ performed during The Verve’s live-shows, which include music, lights, smoke, in general all the essential ingredients for a successful stage-setting. 16 It should be emphasized how the secular approximation of the ‘transcendent’ Real is linked to a dramworld. The employment of this narrative shows that popular discourse is still grounded in 18th C, thinking, and that Feuerbach wasn’t that far from explaining this narrative when he said that religion is the dream of the human mind, or when Nietzsche one century later resembled it to a ‘dream world’.

b. The product-concept of a musical product has been found to consist of distinctive visual, aural and verbal cues, as a result of co-creation of meaning . Their evaluation by consumers varies, not only at an opinion-level, but at the level of actual use, and is determined by the exchange value with which they invest the product, as will be shown below. Insofar as one of the main tasks of discourse analysis is to explore possible contradictions that arise between analysands’ descriptions of actions and actions that may stem either from a confused perception of the issue at hand or from lack of reflection on the issue, a couple of empirical observations on the findings must be made along theses lines. The first observation concerns contradictions among Maria’s (Group 1) statements who claimed at one point that ‘lyrics and melody’ are the two most important features of a musical product, and at another point claimed that posters is a very important means of communication among her peers, which contradiction possibly stems from a lack of clarity with regard to the concept of a musical product. Promotional means such as posters and t-shirts are often viewed as peripheral to the ‘central’ elements of music and lyrics, however indispensable their part may be in differentiating products, building and maintaining brand-images and constructing fan-bases, in a few words all the essential features that make a product successful. The second observation concerns the ‘significance’ of the different elements in the first two steps of image-making, before being re-evaluated and re-created by end-consumers, which is extremely hard to pinpoint, as it depends on purely situational factors. How can we measure the effectiveness of a promotional campaign with reference to the relative (to the mission-objective(s)) effectiveness of the distinctive parts that comprise it? Promotions effectiveness is one of the ‘burning issues’ at the moment, both in trade and academic literature17, and it is hoped that the discussion of the research findings in this dissertation will point towards some directions worth exploring in the course of selecting the appropriate promotions techniques when it comes to developing new musical products or enhancing the ‘value’ of existing ones. As regards the second part, I think it clearly emerged from the discussion that certain promotions techniques have a more lasting impact on the formation of consumers’ world-sense. The 3rd group members unanimously agreed that video-clips offer more feed-back for their ordinary communicative exchanges than print-adverts, which are aimed merely at creating awareness with regard to forthcoming releases. 1st group members also agree on the primacy of live-shows over other promotions techniques in constructing a ‘direct’ relationship with the group, emphasizing that it is on stage that they can check whether the band’s project is ‘real’. This quest for authenticity has been described in the Literature Review chapter, and corroborated in the light of the research findings, as a quest for the ‘centre’ of the simulacrum, that is the exhaustion of its symbolic and imaginary effects that circulate on the surface. The video-clip is just one step in the process of approximating the ‘essence’ of the musical product, the next one being the attendance of a live-show. In the latter, different responses were given with regard to its significance. For example, Filio (Group 3) feels the need to be close to the scene, to the ‘staging of the event’, and this makes her feel more ‘at one’ with the group and its followers. “By virtue of the communalizing effect of the music on its listeners, they also identify with each other, so that a sense of communal togetherness is created”
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See, for example, the article “Ad Nausea” in CA magazine, June 1998.

(Bradley 1992, p.52). “You feel like one”, as Filio stressed, “You participate in something common…” (Maria, group 1), or, as Williamson (1978, p.51) puts it, “We are appellated as already in a group of one”. Importance is measured against the background of the impact of each technique on the formation of life-styles based on the imagery that the discourses around the musical product help create. In these respects, it became evident in the course of the discussion that the ‘live event’ is primarily responsible for maintaining the state of ‘aesthetic hallucination’, as Baudrillard termed it, in which the hyperreal world of consumers is situated. The fact that the club holds live-nights during which local acts perform songs of Depeche Mode, as well as replicate the gestures and movements of the ‘original’ act, is a striking example of how the promotional technique of the live-show has the power of re-viving or staging consumers’ world-sense. The theatrical representation of the ‘meaning of life’, the quest for the centre, is effected through the repetition of the effects of the simulacrum on the participants of the live-event, instances of which are glimpsed through the appropriation of the ‘centre’ of the simulacrum in the symbolically invested possession of fetishes, such as t-shirts and limited-edition items. However, we should distinguish between ‘mild’ and ‘hardcore’ fans, as it became evident that the participants of the second group were less prone to claim that a product has ‘extra value’ if it comes in a limited edition or with extra lyrics and/or pictures sheets. The ‘importance’ of the various promotions techniques, as already stressed, lies in their power to establish a system of equivalences, sustained by the exchange value of different items. What personalises these items, what makes them customized, even though they are mass market products (and it has been stressed repeatedly in the secondary literature that this is the major achievement of the ‘mass market’, i.e. its capacity to inseminate to consumers the belief that they are ‘different’ even though they are consuming ‘mass’ products), is precisely the different portions of libidinal energy (if we follow Freud’s quasi-naturalistic explanation) they are invested with by individuals or the multiple ways in which they are ‘encoded’ with ‘evocative powers’, i.e. powers to respond to, make up for and cover up certain emotions. This truism has been repeatedly stressed in official trade literature: “More than ever, today’s fashion-conscious pop and rock acts insist that the merchandise offered their fans emphasises their individuality. As a result they ask for special branding on everything from caps, T-shirts and jackets to badges and keyrings” (Followers of Fashion, Music Week). “The idea of a T-shirt as a statement of culture and identity has impacted on the market, with styles like skinnies, ringers and long sleeves now widely available” (Those little added extras”, in Music Week 6/12/97). The ‘covering up’ ultimately boils down to the constant re-covery of the primary event of the loss of the Phallus, to use the Lacanian terminology employed earlier on, which is the necessary and sufficient condition for entering the Symbolic Order of language. This order has been defined as comprised of a web of interlocking signifiers (verbal, visual, aural, tangible), which is self-subsistent, hyperreal. It has been also been noted that the primary site of the inscription of these signifiers in consumer behaviour is the bodily level or the level of affection (hence the passive, un-critical, workings of the signifying system or ‘cultural code’ shared by primary, secondary and tertiary image-makers). Therefore, what is exchanged for promotional items is levels of intensity, first and foremost, before assuming symbolic value. Of course, the prioritisation of the one of the other assumes cogency only on a formal level, whereas in practice it may be a contemporaneous process.

What is the focal point we wish to put forward, however, is that the ‘importance’ of particular techniques cannot be assessed in absolute terms, and, moreover, it cannot be approached solely from the production side. Different strategies that use different techniques must be extremely thoughtful of ‘what’ is targeted exactly before proceeding to the implementation stage. However, there are startling examples of musical products, like the ones which have gathered whole hosts of loyal fans explored in this chapter, that owe their success to the fact that they created a whole ‘mythology’ around them. And the way this myth is maintained is shown in the ‘real-life actions’ of consumers, which become significant by bearing largely on the textual edifice that was woven by numerous cultural mediators’ sets of discourses on these musical simulacra. As ‘importance’ is a synonym with ‘significance’ (and this synonymy shows how everyday discourse is structured as a grid of significations), it becomes apparent that the importance of various promotions techniques can only be measured by what they ‘mean’ to consumers. And in this case, quantitative measurement scales (like Likert scales) fall short of interpretive value, as it is highly unlikely that any of us is able or willing to convert psychical significance, or portions of libidinal energy, into a finite set of numerical values (i.e. 1-7). “It is difficult to quantify the success of jackets as promotional tools, but they played a role in building international awareness of the Verve” (Orgie Agostine- Virgin Records International Marketing Manager, in “Firing Up the Imagination”, Music Week). The neutrality of any measuring system can only be ensured on a monetary basis, which is the ultimate aim of ‘investing’ on certain promotional strategies. But in order to calculate the exchangeability of a musical product one has to calculate ‘what’ it is exchanged for, that is how equivalences can be drawn a priori between cultural signifiers floating on the surface of the musical simulacrum and their capacity to attract consumers’ imagination, i.e. simulate the process of recuperating the ‘primary event’ by providing a sufficient ‘stage-setting’ or cultural imagery. “I mean that all that Madonna is about comes through in her singing and dancing on stage”. (Niki, Group 4). “I think that on stage Madonna is her ‘true self’. She shows that she is the center of attention… Everything else is just complementary to what she’s doing up there…” (Jenny, Group 4). And as the bodily dimension is always more powerful and immediate, given its prereflective, pre-conscious, pre-symbolic character, tangible benefits (i.e. benefits that can stimulate the senses, as we’ve seen that the Order of the Real is the body simpliciter) are always more preferable to intangible ones. In these terms we might say that the provision of more tangible benefits (like posters, limited edition gadgets) is the most successful path for provoking interest for the more ‘intangible’ benefits, like aural signifiers or the musical content. It became evident, either directly or indirectly, from the discursive rendition of all four groups participants’ actions that the significance ‘promotional messages’ assume for their lives (i.e. world-sense) structures to a large extent their ‘situational selves’18, the projected sum of which equals their ego-ideal. Direct evidence is suggested, for example, by Eleutheria (Group 3) who recollected how under the aegis of a Depeche Mode song in a club direct contact with sexual implications became
Situational self has been defined by Belk as “all those factors particular to a time and place of observation which do not follow from a knowledge of personal (intra-indivdual) and stimulus (choice-alternative) attributes and which has a demonstrable and systematic effect on consumer behaviour” (1975, p.175).
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possible, or by Leonidas (Group 1) who stated that Pulp bring him closer to what he would like to be. Indirect evidence is suggested, for example, by gazing at posters or gazing at a record-cover, as participants of all groups stated. The fact that the visual encounter with the effects of the simulacrum did not generate any further thoughts, but provoke a loss in the ‘image’, which, as Baudrillard remarked is what constitutes the ‘passive magic’ of the hyperreal, can be interpreted as suggestive of what was called in the Literature Review chapter by using Lacanian terminology, ‘gazing at the nudity of the Phallus’ (“…just stood there, gazing…”, Panagiotis, Group 2) that can only be achieved in dissimulation. The pervasiveness of the gaze that spans the entire continent of the imaginary landscape made up of tangible signifiers is an attempt to break free from the Symbolic Order of language and merge with the Real, which is the Impossible as the necessary condition for rekindling the desire to exhaust the range of consumptive alternatives. “To experience the world in the form of images is, precisely, to reexperience the unreality and remoteness of the real” (Sontag 1984, p.164). Paraphrasing, for consumers to construct their interpretive repertoire that secures them their world-sense on the cultural imagery of the musical products is to widen the distance between the simulacrum and its absent centre, i.e. the Order of the Real. Dissimulation is deemed to be the accompanying state of mind, as it can show what it is like to scratch the surface of signification, and gaze at the ‘other side’ of the mirror, while achieving nothing else but the ‘manic’ proliferation of mirrorings. This manic state is experienced most forcefully when gazing at the simulacrum in its physical form, i.e. at the band-members on stage, which brings the consumer one step closer to its ever anew receding centre. And given that this approximation happens as a result of the ‘speeding up’ of the rhythms of virtual time in order to lapse into the a-temporality of the centre (which phenomenon is rendered intelligible once the cessation of the movement of signifiers on the periphery of the simulacrum is pictured), the experiencing of ecstatic states, like ‘hysteria’ or loss of the senses is justified. Just bear in mind George’s (Group 3) recollection of Thekla’s reaction to the appearance of U2 on stage, as well as his recollection of her utterance “Time has stopped for me” or Filio’s (Group 3) anticipation of a hysteric response at the sight of her ‘cultural icon’. Having substituted the Real for the musical simulacrum, at the centre of which reside the creators as bodily entities, i.e. as the un-imaginative core of the cultural imagery created by promotional discourses, the visual contact that is established between band and consumers becomes an unbearable experience, and at the same time overabundantly pleasant. In short, the mood accompanying this consumptive phenomenon is jouissance, which accords with the principles of the revised model of Hedonic Consumption laid out in the Lit.Review chapter. Of course, given that the dissimulating state in which the Real is gazed is that of an ‘aesthetic hallucination’, waking from the dream-world of the simulacrum is a necessary prerequisite for maintaining its oneiric character. Hence the inevitable paradox that arises in the face of this situation, i.e. the fact that, as already analysed in the Literature Review chapter, the ‘gaze’ can only take place in dissimulation, which affirms and at the same time negates the truthfulness of what is seen, i.e. the fleeting centre of the simulacrum. Thekla remained speechless for two hours at the hotel, after having met the ‘real’ band, before waking up from her hallucinatory, trance-like state, and Maria (Group 1) couldn’t find any words to articulate her visual encounter with her cultural icon, thus witnessing a

temporary breakdown of the symbolic order- the taboo- and a diving into the Order of the Real. Therefore, the significance of the promotional technique of the live-show for consumer psychology lies in that it promises a dissimulatory encounter with the Real (remembering Anna’s -1st Group- words about the ‘reality’ of the live-show as against the ‘staged’ nature of the video-clip), while the other promotional techniques are anticipatory tools that verge on the orders of the Imaginary and the Symbolic. Their importance relies on their situational significance in terms of either maintaining or conflicting with consumers’ ideal-ego, and is measured according to exchange equivalences established by consumers between product-use and intensity levels accomplished. 5.2.2 Hypothesis 2 The participants explained in their own words how the signifiers that make up the musical product impact on their psychic structure by being de-doubled in the process of their constant re-inscription in communicative trajectories, either between them and the act or amongst them as a group of fans. They explicitly stated that even though the band has written a track for a particular purpose, they appropriate its meaning in order to match their personal lives. The melody as a string of aural signifiers, the lyrics as a set of verbal signifiers, the posters, print-ads as a plenum of visual signifiers, the live-show and videoclip as a mixture of all of the above, each appertaining to different semiotic realms (the Imaginary and the Symbolic) with fluid boundaries that allow for crossings between barriers, assume different meanings when applied to different situations that emerge in the course of consumers’ lives. However divergent these experiences may be, they all converge at the cross-roads of the group’s collective world-sense, which is expressed in the ritual practices of club-meetings, trips to live-shows, night-outs. Intra-group coherence is maintained by the group’s instantiation of the aesthetic features that make up the ‘meaning’ of the product, such as wearing club T-shirts, and waving at each other in the same way as the lead-singer waves at the end of the video-clip (as Group 3 members do). What are the ‘neo-tribe paraphernalia’ in this case? For Anna and her friends (Group 1) it seems that posters is a way of intra-group coherence, something like an emblem that suggests a ‘shared past’ for the group, recalling Bradley. “You can re-live the past by playing these songs…” (George, Group 3). The collection of posters, in this case, is not driven by the same forces at work in the case of the hardcore fan, who functions on the principle of the exhaustibility of collectable items, but rather on the iconic principle of providing for oneself definite images for the essentially non-imagistic Order of the Real. The identification with the images of the artists works on the Order of the Imaginary, and its fetishistic character is evinced by the way whereby its heterogeneous elements are accommodated under the significatory umbrella of the ‘name’ of the artist, which is a hyperreal inscription of the Name-of-theFather, in psychoanalytic terms. We’ve seen that the Name-of-the-Father is the primary signifier that is the starting-point of the chain of signifiers that constitutes the Symbolic Order, on which local cultures are founded. Therefore, Georgia’s (Group 1) passionate exclamation “Pulp is my life” is nothing else but a metonymic registering (i.e. displacement of the name of the primary signifier by and into a signifier within the chain of signification, Pulp. The same paradox that was described in the previous section with

respect to the dissimulatory ‘gaze’ of the centre of the simulacrum arises here. The power of the ‘gaze’ in shaping the cultural imagery communicated through musical products has been recognized from various people working in the industry, such as Stephen Brown (press strategist at Excess Press- PR company), who stressed that “The teen press react best to strong, visually-led marketing campaigns where the music is only one of the colours in the palette” (from Music Week). The primary signifier (Pulp) assumes its transcendent value as grounding the chain of signifiers only once it is inscribed in the chain, in a dissimulatory fashion, that affirms and at the same time negates the possibility of its linguistic rendering) of the very principle that grounds individuals’ cultural life. Let us re-iterate McCracken’s (1988, p.112) remark that “Normally the purchase of a good does not violate the displacement rule… What is being bought is not the whole bridge but a small part of it”. The way the images in the poster are invested with psychic value has been described as the outcome of the triple process of substitution, condensation, displacement. The promotional messages that are communicated through these processes add up to the extra-value of the product. The extra-value added to the product through the consumption of promotional messages is evinced in the ways whereby these messages are inscribed in intra-group communication, such as the adoption of particular modes of dancing or the communication through lyrics. Maria (Group 1) stated that she likes to discuss about personal matters with her peers, while listening to Pulp and emphasized the aesthetic value she ascribes to Jarvis’ voice. Manolis (Group 2) stated that Chumbawamba’s song was like a ‘national anthem’ during his peer-group’s recent holiday, and they had memorized the song after listening to it repeatedly on the radio. Let us recall Barthes’ analysis of the ‘grain of the voice ’, the impact of which does not take place on the plane of ‘signification’ but rather of ‘signifiance’, where the melody works on language, not at what it says but at the “voluptuousness of its sound-signifiers” (Middleton). “Her voice has all these colors… It makes you feel rather than think what she sings about…” (Jenny, Group 4). Whence the pre-symbolic, emotive and bodily levels on which the aural aspect of the musical product impacts on consumers as a group, transposing them to the level of affection through a chain of signifiers bound up contiguously. This is the point where ‘value’ is exchanged for money. And what is exchanged here is a portion of desire for a portion of cultural imagery. What is consumed is a set of signifiers that circulate on the surface of the simulacrum, the musical product. “Our first level of involvement in the ad’s [and we might substitute ad with ‘promotional image’, in order to encompass the rest of the available promotions techniques] meaning is in our recognition of certain signifiers from referent myth systems. The advertisement cannot claim to have created that meaning, for do we not ‘know’ it already? Values exist not in things but in their transference” (J.Williamson 1978, p.43, my highlighting). If ‘values’, such as personal, cultural, group values are what is exchanged for musical products, then the former is the signified of the latter. This is what is meant by the ‘redoubling’ (de-doublement, in Derrida’s words) of signifiers: The same images (i.e. the actors in a video-clip, the ordering of drawings in a record-cover, the gestures of the musicians in a live-show) can be exchanged for different values, depending on the ‘embeddedness’ of the signifiers. Thus, the signifiers are constantly re-doubled as they enter different communicative contexts, such as uttering the song-title of ‘In Your Room’, which connotes the desire for sexual contact, as Filio stressed. Therefore, the cultural

imagery is disseminated in the contexts of intersubjective ‘interpellative dialectic’, where individual consumers are ‘called upon’ (demanded, to use the Lacanian term, which is part of the triple structure of need-desire-demand, as exposed in the Lit.Review Chapter) to give their own accounts of the subject-matter, which is the musical product. The dialectic takes place through ‘sacralizing ritual processes’. This means that the quest for meaning is not a one-man-project, but rather the outcome of a group effort that constructs its world-sense on the basis of shared interpretive repertoires. The ‘gaze’ as encoded with cultural meaning has already been found to be operational in the consumptive phenomena of live-shows and posters. What has not been commented on is the notion of ‘ritualistic fusion’, which has been described as one of the most crucial sacralizing processes, which promote consumption through ‘contamination’. Belk provided the example of lighting of matches at the end of a rock concert. Primary research findings suggest more variable ways whereby ‘contamination’ is achieved. Wearing huts in a live-show was one way whereby club-members of Group 3 maintained their coherence as a group of disciples following their favourite cultural icon. Whistling a Chumbawamba tune was a way of maintaining group-identity amongst Group 2 consumers. Dancing and singing-along during a live-show is a way of communicating ‘directly’ for Group 1 consumers. And the most important thing, each ‘common’ experience bears a different meaning for individual consumers, the same ‘promotional currency’ is exchanged for different ‘psychic goods’, in the process of connotative displacement. There is no end in the process of connotative displacement of meaning, as the chain of associations it gives rise to can be extended ad infinitum, depending solely on the particular ‘real-life’19 stories it reflects. How is this reflection enabled? 5.2.3 Hypothesis 3 Through ‘iconic consumption’ or ‘simulacral consumption’, as it was termed in Ch.2. There it was shown how the relationship between signifier and signified was neither symbolic nor indexical stricto sensu, even though it shares elements of both. It is iconic, that is bearing an abstract resemblance to the ‘depicted object’, while the resemblance can be discerned only by those who share the code or are members of the conventional nexus in which this resemblance ‘makes sense’. As Bradley argues, “music in certain circumstances assumes a sort of iconicity. This is not the same as simple reference- as when words refer to ‘things’- but it is a special kind of musical meaning none the less, namely that which is often called the expression of emotions” (op.cit., p.25, also see Grayson’s and Barthes’ theses on ‘iconicity’ and resemblance in 2.2). However, emotions are not ‘raw’, but rather elaborated through a meaningful system that allows us to ascribe particular adjectives to each of them. Therefore, emotions of joy, sadness have been reported to be either caused by or alleviated through music. And this process of ‘alleviation’ or ‘healing’ is the same as the one of the phenomenological letting19

Bands with strong imagery are called ‘life-style’ acts, and are targeted mainly towards late teens market segments. “The best the press can do is sell the concept of the band. Only after they’ve digested what they’ve read and either heard something on the radio or had it further recommended by friends do most people actually go out and buy the record” (Rob Partridge- Managing Director Coalition Music and Media, in Press to Impress, Music Week).

dissappear of the ‘primary event’ through the investment of its traces in the cloak of definite images. Through a process of ‘sublimations’, that is discursive investments of the primary libidinal flow, the absent centre of the simulacrum is glimpsed in its fleeting emotive inscriptions, which reside in the conventional net of meanings shared by the group of consumers. “Music can function as such an icon, when makers and listeners agree the codal conventions of ‘emotional expression’” (idem.). Consumers, by uncritically subscribing to these codal conventions, become enmeshed in this nexus of significations that equips them with interpretive repertoires, sufficient for making sense of ‘irrational’ emotions. “Things ‘mean’ to us, and we give this meaning to the product, on the basis of an irrational mental leap invited by the form of the advertisement [promotional image]” (Williamson, op.cit.). Iconic consumption, therefore, is responsible for compartmentalising the primary process of unobstructed libidinal flow by creating ephemeral, i.e. contextually and historically bound, associations between signifiers, that do not have a fixed referent, but rather assume meaning in a self-referential, hyperreal grid of concepts. Just like the pictorial representation of Genesis, for example, endows the fans of a particular religious cult with the iconic paraphernalia that allow them to glimpse the creation of the universe, the aural, verbal and pictorial rendition of emotions allow the consumers of musical products to make sense of the irrational part of their existence. This repertoire assumes the character of a ‘life-vest’, as Filio (Group 3) put it, that guards consumers against sinking in the archipelagos of desire. The suggestion that this iconic function is the outcome of the ‘circulation of signifiers’ in the realm of the intra-group communicative trajectory has also been shown to be operative.: “I think I identify with her lyrics and image. The way she dresses is unique. It was a wise move for her to start a new clothes-brand” (Dimitra, Group 4)). “I agree with Dimitra that Madonna has a unique dressing-code. I remember when we were 15 we used to dress like her and have loads of fun. Now we still wear t-shirts and stuff, but not all those flashy clothes we used to wear then” (Maria, Group 4). The verbal interaction that takes place between the members of Group 4, for example, shows how consumers are mirrored against each other on the basis of the ‘cultural mirror’ or ‘code’ of the musical simulacrum. The communicative exchanges that take place are founded on the signifiers that make up the simulacrum, in the case at hand Madonna’s dressing code, which is an indispensable part of her projected life-style. Madonna would not have been so successful if she hadn’t offered such a strong set of cultural imagery to stimulate the teen-market’s imagination. And this stimulation occurs insofar as the circulation of promotional discourses in intra-group communication allows for the individuation of signifiers. “I have a big poster at the ceiling, facing my pillow, so when I wake up I can see Madonna in front of me.” (Niki, Group 4) Niki reflects herself in Madonna’s picture, the poster is not seen as merely a poster, but rather as a cultural mirror, a way whereby consumers identify with the cultural code through self-reflection. “Leonidas: “I regard video-clips as one step before live-shows. It gives you the opportunity to see how the band moves, their expressions… The video-clip shows that the music is real, if you know what I mean…” Georgia (to Leonidas): “Don’t you think that the video-clip is like a small gig?” Leonidas: “Sometimes, when instead of a script it includes shots from live-shows…”

Anna: “But again, you can’t compare these two… The live-show is more immediate, more direct… The video-clip is somehow pre-meditated.”” (Group 1) The above dialogue also shows how the effects of promotional techniques of the liveshow and the video-clip respectively, which offers an abundant array of signifiers, circulate within the group of consumers. Each member of the group reflects differently on the ‘value’ of the techniques, albeit they all participate in the same consumptive phenomenon. Georgia and Leonidas are more prone to claim that the video-clip has the same effect on them as the live-show, whereas Anna prefers the live-show, because it is more direct. But still, even though the techniques are put under constant trial, their iconic function has not been challenged. On the contrary, it is reinforced by being immersed in the group’s communicative trajectory, by being reflected on the participants’ discourse on it, that is on their bringing their individual perspective and values in order to trace its significance. But this reading would be far too easy. It has been stressed that ‘personality traits’ are not sufficient in explaining the motivations to consume musical products. If we relied solely on what is stated in the utterances we wouldn’t be able to discern a general pattern in order to bring into light the aspects of an underlying context. Therefore, we have to ‘dig deeper’ in order to bring this context to the surface, and a way to do this might be to pay attention not strictly to what is said, but rather how it is said. Hence, what matters in the case at hand is not the different opinions consumers express on the subjectmatter, but rather the act that they ‘do’ express opinions. And they express them in a way that discloses eagerness and pervasiveness (which, in the terms of pragmatics, is called the perlocutionary force of an utterance, i.e. the ‘mood’ accompanying an utterance, which gives a special twist to its semantic content), which points to a desire, or, better, a demand to locate the center of the simulacrum in its various effects. And the paradoxical element in this demand is what regenerates motivation, as was proven in the previous sections. What matters here is that the circulation and inscription of signifiers in groupdiscourse is actually responsible for maintaining the iconic status of musical products, that is its capacity to provide a verbal/ audio-visual code for consumers’ emotive responses. Iconic consumption has also been found to be responsible for the maintenance of the sacred character of musical products. The club-members laid out their intentions of establishing a Depeche Mode museum, where all the collectable items will be displayed for ‘mass supplication’. Promotional discourses, and let us repeat that what is meant by discourse is the entire gamut of semiotic elements, either verbal, aural or visual, that make up a self-subsistent complex of significations, are thus responsible for creating the ‘sacred’ character of musical products, by offering identifiable ‘icons’ for irrational emotions. Every effect of the musical product as simulacrum on the listener is at the same time a taboo, as it discloses an aspect of consumers’ split subjectivity, effected through the fetishistic identification with these effects, and at the same time transposing the event of the ‘barring’ ($) (cf.2.6.2) to ever further depths. Thanasis (Group 2) ‘re-lives’ unconsciously the act of the splitting by gazing at the record-cover of Pearl Jam. “Whichever way you approach it [i.e. the cover] it says ‘Don’t Open me’”. This transposition is effected through the proliferation of signifiers (and subsequently the enhancement of the complexity of the ‘cultural code’ within the accommodating auspices of which the translation of irrational desire into products to be invested takes place), and

the promotional discourses which generate them. The webs of significations born out of this process are suggestive of distinctive life-styles, which bind consumer segments with fluid boundaries with the ‘glue’ of the cultural imagery on offer. “Madonna is a way of life” (Niki, Group 4). “Pulp is my life…” (Georgia, Group 1). “Bono has been one of my favorite singers...It’s not only the lyrics, but the whole life-style. I mean they can shift between sounds without losing their originality” (Manolis, Group 2). And insofar as life, here, refers to cultural life we can see the wider cultural implications of the sacred character of the musical product. The chain of signifiers that constitutes the image of distinctive products is raised to an emblematic status that nurtures the cultural life of its disciples. The participants of group 4 ‘grew up’ with Madonna imagery, participants of group 3 ‘grew up’ with Depeche Mode imagery, participants of Group1 grew up with Pulp imagery. Given that on top of every local cultural manifestation certain ‘sacred’ principles reign supreme, the local culture of each of these groups has been found to be built on the sacred foundations of the fetishistic and tabooic character of the musical simulacrum. 5.3 Conclusion It is hoped that the attempt to guide the reader through the previous discussion into the ways whereby the principle hypotheses of this dissertation can be explored by analysing the discourse of focus-group participants was frutiful. It is also hoped that the importance of understanding the communicative potential of promotional discourses, on which the successful performance of musical products in the market is dependent, was clarified by drawing on the interpretive categories of the conceptual model of Consumer Psychoanalysis. In the following chapter certain conclusions will be drawn on the basis of this discussion, with regard to the implications of the findings for marketers, as well as for future research in the field of promotions in the music industry.

6. Conclusions and Recommendations
6.1 Introduction In this chapter the discussion of the findings presented in Ch.5 will be summarized with an added emphasis on their implications for conceptual model building and research methodology, as regards their theoretical contribution. Additionally, their contribution to the field of brand management will be discussed, which, in the music industry, corresponds to the research for new talent, its development, and maintenance throughout the product life-cycle. It will be explained why the significance of the discourses woven by promotional techniques for consumers’ intra-group communication as well as individual subjectivities is instrumental in understanding the ‘product concept’ of musical products, which consists mainly of symbolic (or simulacral/iconic) , rather than functional

attributes, the value of which is strictly extrinsic, i.e. dependent on the exchange value it assumes in communicative exchanges taking place amongst consumers and in consumers’ relationship with their own ‘id’. Finally, the limitations of this dissertation, as well as suggestions for potential areas of future research will be pointed out. 6.2 Theoretical Contribution 6.2.1 Contribution on a Conceptual Model level First and foremost, the points where Consumer Psychoanalysis diverges from Consumer Behaviour, as were illustrated throughout the thesis, must be recapitulated. Hence, whereas the latter prioritizes a set of personality traits as being endemic in and constitutive of consumer behaviour, whether viewed from an egocentric or an interactive perspective, the former lays emphasis on the pre-personality formative features and the psychic processes responsible for their formation. As a result of this, musical products are not seen as corresponding to particular pre-existing needs, but rather as being instances of symptom-formation (cf. Glossary), i.e. traces of unconscious processes. More specifically, the term Iconic or Simulacral Consumption was coined in order to account for certain gaps in the Symbolic Consumption and Hedonic Consumption literature. The main differences between these perspectives are the following: 1. The product does not necessarily bear a one-to-one symbolic relationship with an abstract idea. 2. An abstract idea refers to a cultural value (i.e. status, power) that is part of a supposedly all-encompassing cultural framework. Iconic Consumption emphasizes the role of musical products for maintaining and communicating consumer identity in the context of local cultures, i.e. axiological grids of consumer groups with fluid boundaries. 3. Both Symbolic and Iconic Consumption emphasize the ‘extrinsic properties’ of products. However, whereas the former conceives of these properties as relating to the realm of abstract ideas, the latter locates them in the realm of situationally defined stimuli. 4. The former distinction also lays claim to the fact that iconic consumption is closer to the primary level of ‘affect’ (cf. Glossary and ch.2), which precedes the formation of symbolic links. The distinction between affective and symbolic levels also alludes to the distinctive orders of the Imaginary and the Symbolic, which, despite constituting different paths for approximating the Order of the Real (cf.2.5), they assume an order of precedence. This order is the outcome of the fact that the Imaginary is prior to the individual’s immersion in the linguistic order, on which the Symbolic impinges. 5. Iconic consumption is also attentive to the definition of a ‘product concept’. In this area, it was suggested that the musical product is the sum of verbal, aural and visual codes that shape up its meaning. The product is encoded by distinctive sets of promotional discourses, appertaining to the two orders of image-making, and decoded by consumers. The latter, in turn, redefine its meaning, thus constituting the product as a result of the process of co-creation of meaning. Meaning here attaches to the semantic and pragmatic relationship between the chain of signifiers and the field of

potential signifieds, which collectively make up the ‘grid of signification’. Therefore, iconic consumption is a theoretical paradigm aiming to explore how the product concept of musical products is generated in an incessant process of signification, that marks a substitutive interplay between signifiers and signifieds. 6. With regard to Hedonic Concumption, its principles are also applicable in accounting for the impact of the musical product, as a result of promotional techniques and the discourses they give rise to, on consumer psychology. However, certain lack of clarity on the definitional plane urged us to reconsider some of its principles, again by drawing on the paradigm of Iconic Consumption. The arguments that were developed in 2.7.1 and 2.7.2 respectively bore on the conflict among the psychoanalytic concepts of ‘pleasure principle’ (cf. Glossary) and ‘jouissance’, which can be rendered intelligible and applicable only once the distinction, loosely speaking, between ‘personality’ or ‘ego’ and ‘split subjectivity’ has been grasped. 7. Finally, Iconic Consumption aims to effect an interpretive shift from inter-subjective paradigms, which presuppose the existence of distinct egos, towards an approach that prioritizes ‘fusion’ and ‘communion’ among consumer-group members, which is the way sacralizing processes manifest themselves. 8. Finally, the contribution of the model of Consumer Psychoanalysis to theoretical research is aimed at widening the perspectival horizons of consumer researchers, by reaching more indirect levels of analysis.

6.2.2 Contribution on a Methodological level In the process of in-depth interviews or focus-group discussions it is highly unlikely that consumers will allude directly to the traces of events, which, anyway, are not inscribed in consciousness, but rather in the systems of the pre-conscious and the unconscious, to use Freud’s psychic topography. The interpretive method of consumer psychoanalysis is an attempt to reach and map these levels by drawing on the unconscious functions of substitution, displacement and condensation (cf.2.6.1). The ultimate aim of this method is to enable the design of associative frameworks, which will design whole networks linking imagery and unconscious wish-fulfillments of targeted-audiences. This over-ambitious project can only be enforced in the case of high-profile artists, as it requires prolonged and sustained market research and planning in order to render this network of associations as close to consumer expectations as possible. As regards specific research methods and methods of analysis, it is certainly hoped that an example of how the qualitative method of focus-group discussions, as an exploratory method into consumers’ unconscious processes that govern the transformation of promotional discourses into interpretive repertoires, was shown to be a useful tool. As regards analytical frameworks, it is hoped that the usefulness of Interpretivism was demonstrated while examining the ‘polysemic dissemination’ of promotional messages in different communicative contexts. Finally, as regards the tools of analysis of the research findings, the minimally used method of discourse analysis was rendered operative, thus opening up multiple levels of analysis and showing how the sequence of the presentation of given data can alter the direction of a thesis’ analytical focus.

6.3 Implications of the research findings for brand management It is strongly believed that the research findings of this dissertation have important implications for brand-management in the popular music industry. Given that brandnames are the initial differentiating properties amongst relatively homogeneous commodities, their efficient management depends on a deep understanding of how they can maximize consumer satisfaction. Consumer Psychoanalysis offers useful insights into how this understanding of consumer behaviour can be achieved with regard to musical products and the merchandise that complements them: 1. Given that consumer satisfaction for this particular product class is measured not according to the tangible benefits they offer, but rather to their ‘iconic effects’, it is suggested that efficient brand-management must follow the path of providing cultural imagery as stimulating for the senses as possible, insofar as the effects of the musical product have been found to impact first and foremost consumers’ bodily and emotive farbric. 2. Kotler (1991) identifies four distinctive classes of loyal consumers, viz “Hardcore loyals, consumers who buy one brand all the time, Soft-core loyals, consumers who are loyal to two or three brands, Shifting loyals, consumers who shift from favouring one brand to another, and Switchers, consumers who show no loyalty to any brand”. The primary research findings of this dissertation drew on the consumer behaviour of the first and second classes, therefore it was an attempt to identify how perceived value of existing brands can be enhanced by capitalising on the communicative potential of promotional discourses. 3. Having used Lacan’s triple structure of need-desire-demand, it was shown how musical products function on the levels of Desire and Demand, rather than need, which is biologically determined. Demand is what is laid upon the consumer by the Order of the Real, and is a call for fulfillment of one’s utmost potential (ontologically conceived as the potential for becoming one with the Other). Desire is the conative element in the consumer psyche that strives after fulfilling the Demand. Icons must be strong enough in order to channel this desire in the direction suggested by the entire imagery surrounding the product, i.e. the desire to consume as many records, collectable tems, posters, t-shirts as possible. 4. Given that the teen-market is primarily driven by visual stimuli, emphasis must be given in the first place on the establishment of a strong visual relationship between the product-package and the consumer, which means that the ‘gaze’ is the primary sense to be targeted. The way images interlock must be capable of producing a hyperreal pattern that will function primarily on the Imaginary Order, thus giving rise to a distinctive cultural code operates unconsciously by creating bonds amongst consumers of a particular brand-name. 5. The issues of price and product-use (or better product-exchange) that emerge in the context of brand-management must be dealt with according to the principles of what is exchanged and how much the consumer is willing to pay for the subject-matter of

exchange. “Sometimes the most expensive an item is, the more likely it is to sell”, says Event marketing director Jeremy Goldsmith. “It’s reverse psychology but it’s quite a well-known marketing ploy” (“Those little added extras”, in Music Week 6/12/97). It has been found that the strongest the significance of the imagery of the musical product for consumers, the more they are likely to spend on acquiring collectable items and mechandise, in an attempt to fetishistically recuperate the absent centre of the simulacrum. Therefore, record-companies can capitalize on existing and/or new brand-names that have been deemed to be successful according to their mission objectives with regard to the development of particular artists in order to offer innovative consumptive outlets, such as those suggested in the previous chapter. 6. Also, important implications arise for consumer segmentation. “In recent years there as been increasing dissatisfaction with socio-economic classifications. Advertising agencies and those responsible for communicating brand propositions not only wish to whom to communicate with but also what to say. This has led firstly to a growth in the use of qualitative research and secondly to the use of ‘life-style’ or ‘psychological variables’ in market segmentation… Under this system, market segments are defined qualitatively in terms of consumers’ attitudes, values and interests… There are those, however, who have expressed doubt about the use of life-style segmentation. They argue that for marketing purposes, attitudes cannot be generalized, but tend to be specific to individual product fields or in some cases brands themselves.” (Graham Hankisnon & Philipa Cowking, The Reality of Global Brands1996, pp.23-24). There is no doubt that in this thesis ‘life-style’ segmentation has been followed in identifying and structuring the teen market segment for popular music. However, at the same time, difference in focus as regards the nature of life-style segmentation has also been emphasized. Instead of using traditional variables of attitudes, interests and values, we concentrated on psychic conditions prior to the formation of those features. By using psychoanalytic vocabulary and interpretive methods, it was pointed out why this particular product-class is functional in terms of its capacity to give expression to unconscious processes, by providing identifiable icons around which the inter-play between ‘id’ and consciousness takes place, as well as why a life-style, in these terms, is not the outcome of prior attitudinal attributes, but rather a direct expression of the strife for approximating the Other, as the fundamental precondition of split subjectivity (cf. 2.6.2). In this context, it is also crucial that marketers pay close attention to the group-dynamics which are largely responsible for structuring this meaning-laden path, as the approximation to the Other is not a one man’s project, but rather the result of a fusion or loss in the imagery of musical products. This is one more aspect that has to be borne in mind before considering the communicative potential of a new product, or when redefining the brand-image of an existing one. As regards the second point, we are certainly in accord that with the ‘objection’ that the models devised on the basis of ‘life-style’ segmentation are restricted to the specific product-classes, only it is not clear why this claim is a criticism rather than a witticism. Postmodern consumer research is bound up with an exhaustive attentiveness to the particular, and is concerned with cases that can provide illuminating insights into consumptive phenomena, rather than formulating grandiose statements, which are hardly applicable in the ‘real world’.

7. Brand-management cannot be conceived as separate from image-making. It is hoped that once managers get their busy heads round the concepts of Iconic Consumption, and understand its implications for marketing practice, then the expanded notions of ‘image’ and ‘cultural imagery’ will be given thoughtful consideration. Given that popular music is the ‘anthem’ of a global village, the development of artists on the basis of most global ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and the patterning of promotional discourses on globally binding narratives (as was shown by the semiotic analysis of the global arche-signifier The Verve in 5.2.1.a - and here the definitive article ‘The’ is indicative of the grammatical inscription of the power of the name to circumscribe, i.e. define the boundaries, of the Hyperreal Space) can benefit from the cost-efficiency of standardised promotional plans, in terms of planning, implementing and controlling promotional strategies. 8. As regards budget-analysis for media allocation, it is also believed that this dissertation could turn out to give some useful directives. The successful targeting of specialized teen mags, and more effort in designing print-ads, which were declared by the focus-groups participants to lack in ‘imaginative’ content and to have merely an informative function, should be given thoughtful consideration. As regards the communicative potential of promotional discourses, the live-show still remains the most prominent technique for the particular classes of loyal consumers, as it is stimulating for the entire sensory spectrum. It is also the most representative example of a ‘sacralizing process’, which, according to the principles of Iconic Consumption, are responsible for building and maintaning cultural icons or musical acts. However, the communicative potential of other promotional means, such as posters, t-shirts and collectable items, was also found to be significant, depending on situational responses and exectations. In general, different ‘rites of passage’, indicative of the teen-market, are strongly shaped by the imagery of musical products. Therefore, the selection of the appropriate media in the appropriate season can help boost sales by capitalising on the communicative potential of distinct promotional techniques, and, from a longterm perspective, can help create a ‘hype’ around an artist, thus enforcing the brandimage and expanding the product concept. 9. Finally, qualitative marketing researchers can benefit from the appropriation of the model of Consumer Psychoanalysis in order to interpret ‘raw data’, and disclose hidden dimensions in the consumptive phenomenon of musical products and related merchandise.

6.4 Limitations 1. The discussion findings are not generalisable to all types of loyal consumers, as above-mentioned, but rather to hardcore and softcore loyals.

2. The number of focus group discussions was not big enough to ensure a wider range and focus of responses. However, it was stressed in ch.4 that in this case ‘size does not matter’, but rather the depth of the answers is what is more important. 3. Time-limitations acted as a barrier to widening the exploratory scope to incorporate ‘primary consumers’, i.e. press-people, which would be an interesting consumersegment to explore in the future. 4. Even though popular music has been termed one of the ‘global products’ par excellence, it would be interesting to do a cross-cultural study in order to determine whether cultural variables, such as language and religion, for example, influence the decoding of promotional messages of musical products. 5. In order to capture the consumptive phenomenon as a whole, this thesis did not pay close attention to discrete musical styles, which are indeed suggestive of distinctive life-styles. Even though the way life-styles are shaped by promotional techniques was hopefully shown to be the case, no historical evidence was given about musical movements in order to show the historical embeddedness of certain musical movements. This doesn’t imply why there are clear-cut reasons for why certain social groups consume certain kinds of music. As McClary (1992) stresses “While we can point to general patterns of pop use, the precise link between sounds and social groups remains unclear. Why is rock’n’roll youth music, whereas Dire Straits is the sound of yuppie USA?”. However, for the keen reader who would like to find more about them, we suggest Bradley’s bibliography. 6. Again, in order to approach the impact of promotional techniques from a wider and all-encompassing perspective, we intentionally disregarded significant detail as regards the multiple uses and exchanges to which different promotional tools can be put in consumers’ lives. It is hoped that future research will give a more detailed account than this one. 7. It could be leveled against our redefinition of popular music that it goes against established definitions of what popular music is measured against, i.e. against salesfigures and charts-placement. For reasons of political correctness, i.e. maintaining groups’ radical difference that cannot be assimilated to a hierarchical pattern of musical taste, which is a post-modern imperative, we chose this alternative route.

6.5 Recommendations - Future areas of research 1. On a theoretical level, Consumer Psychoanalysis should be expanded as a theoretical approach in its own right, both in the realm of conceptual model and method building. Even though secondary literature thrives with speculative excursions into the farcorners of the entertainment business, from films and books to theater, not much has been done, at least to the author’s knowledge up-to-date, to explore these phenomena empirically by drawing on consumer research methods. Let us hope that the minimal evidence to the usefulness of psychoanalysis in consumer research this thesis attests, will be followed by more promising oeuvres either in the music industry or related industries in the entertainment business.

2. On an empirical level, it is hoped that promotional techniques in their own right will be explored in greater depth, always with both eyes focused on the network of associations they offer to consumers’ psychic lives. 3. Research exploring the perceptions of people who work for the different parts of the virtual organization would also offer more insights into the primary production process of cultural imagery, especially where A&R members are concerned. 4. Gender differences, which remained unaccounted for in this thesis, would also be interesting to explore, since special packaging designed for different genders might help boost sales, and increase the customization of musical products. 5. Finally, it is certainly hoped that an able mathematician will devise a statistical model in order to accommodate unconscious processes, thus rendering psychoanalytic research into consumer behaviour less time-consuming and more able to yield mass, quantifiable results and maintaining a constantly updated database that will allow for sharp modifications in promotional strategies, especially in such an opportunistic business as the music industry, where musical trends do not have a fixed time-limit. 6.6 Conclusion It is hoped that by now a way to listen to the seductive melodies of the Sirens of the music industry has been opened up. It is hoped that it will lead to a highway, where many individual efforts will intersect in order to create a map for the hyperreal space of the entertainment business, ways that will offer the opportunity to engage in successful promotional planning in terms of the unconscious associations that arise in the consumer psyche.

APPENDIX I

FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS

1. Focus Group Design
The focus-group discussions will last for 1-1.5 hours. The discussion will be unstructured to a large extent, which means that the following outline is not a rule-book to be followed in a step-wise fashion. Apart from the warm-up introductory general questions, the remainder of the questions rely on the ensuing driving themes, while allowing for considerable improvisation on behalf of the participants. Detours are much more important than restraining their expressiveness, as returning to already discussed topics shows to what extent they focus of the questions asked in the course of following discussions. (a) Introduction • are gripped by certain issues that concern their relationship with a musical act. Finally, the answers provided by the participants of each focus-group have been used, in turn, to amend or enrich the scope and self-presentation and presentation of everyone else thanking the participants for their co-operation outline of the general topic to be discussed explanation of the use of the tape-recorder explanation of the importance of behaving as a group ensure anonymity

• • • • •

(b) General Discussion • Listing of favourite musical acts

Stating the time-period they have been listening to them

(c) Discussion focusing on their favourite acts • • • • What is a musical product? Asked to rank the various features of a musical product (music, lyrics, cover, band-image) What does the act ‘mean’ for them? In what contexts of their daily lives do they apply this meaning(s)? How do they communicate with their peers on the basis of this act?

(d) Discussion focusing on promotions techniques in relationship to these acts • • • Which promotions techniques are more important as regards their communicative content? Listing of cases in which promotional messages have acted as vehicles of intra-group communication. What kind of ‘value’ do they derive from making use of promotional items, such as posters, limited edition items, t-shirts?

(e) General Discussion regarding live-shows memories (f) Conclusion • Thanking the participants for their co-operation

2. Transcribed Data Group 1
The first focus-group discussion took place in the context of the appearance of Pulp in a big festival in Athens. The participants comprised of 3 females (Maria- 18, Anna-19, Georgia-17) and 2 males (Nikos-19, Leonidas-19), all students, who had just been in the backstage area in order to meet their favorite act, courtesy of Polygram Records. The discussion went on for almost one hour. Its course was smooth, without any overreactions on behalf of the participants. They did not interact regularly, but rather voiced their opinions in turn. It came as a surprise that they had already speculated on many of the suggested issues regarding their relationship to their favorite act, as will be shown in the ensuing analysis of the discussion.

For how long have you been listening to Pulp? Leonidas: “5 years” Maria: “ Almost 3 years” Anna: “Over 4 years” Georgia: “5 years” Nikos: “4 years” Is this the first time you ever go to a Pulp gig? (Unanimously): “Yes” How do you feel that you’re just about to see you favorite act ‘live’ ? Leonidas: “I’ve seen video-taped shows before, and video-clips. I think this gig will meet my expectations” Nikos: “I’ve come all the way from Patra [northern Greece], so they’d better be good” (laughs) Georgia: “ Anxious, what can I say?” Anna: “I’m trembling…” Maria: “Anxious” In what respects do you believe video-clips relate to live-shows? Would you regard the former as a preamble to the latter? Leonidas: “I regard video-clips as one step before live-shows. It gives you the opportunity to see how the band moves, their expressions… The video-clip shows that the music is real, if you know what I mean…” Georgia (to Leonidas): “Don’t you think that the video-clip is like a small gig?” Leonidas: “Sometimes, when instead of a script it includes shots from live-shows…” Anna: “But again, you can’t compare these two… The live-show is more immediate, more direct… The video-clip is somehow pre-meditated.” What do you think is so special about live-shows? Leonidas: “The whole atmosphere, I think… Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves… You get out of your head completely…” Nikos: “I think you can have the time of your life, especially when you’re with friends” Georgia: “Yeah, especially when you’re with friends” Anna: “Well, even if you’re not with anyone, you can still enjoy yourself. I think the liveshow has something into it… It’s that immediacy, where you can laugh with everybody… communicate in a special way by dancing and singing-along…” Maria: “I agree with Anna… In live-shows you participate in something common, just for the moment… It is a great experience”

Is Pulp a ‘hot issue’ for discussion with your friends? Anna: “Not so much now, as it used to be two years ago, with ‘Different Class’. Pulp was something completely new to us, and we tried to follow each and every move, by reading international press, and through MTV” Leonidas: “On a daily basis! Jarvis is a pop-icon… He’s been through so much hardship, from the ‘Do You Remember the First Time’ period until today. We’ve been following each move with my mates”. Anna: “Jarvis is God! It’s his style… Very delicate… Me and my friends, we’ve got posters of him everywhere” Maria: “Pulp’s image is very unique. Jarvis’ voice has this particular tinge that’s very romantic. We like gathering in a room, listening to the music and talking about personal matters. After all, music is a personal thing”. Nikos: “Whenever we go out with friends, we prefer a bar that plays Pulp. It brings us in a good mood”. In what respects are Pulp important for your personal lives? Nikos: «Apart from the fact that they fill up my spare time in a pleasing way, their music is uplifting, it makes me feel better about myself». Could you describe what you mean by ‘feeling better about yourself’? Nikos: “Well, whenever I’ve done something in a wrong way Pulp’s music and lyrics help me make up for it. It’s like a compensation for something lacking”. Maria: «There is something special about their music and this helps me feel special… ». Georgia: “Pulp is my life…” Leonidas: “I prefer listening to Pulp, especially ‘Different Class’ (Pulp’s previous album), when alone… It’s not music you could listen to as a background to some other activity. Most preferably in the dark, in a placid environment, with nobody else around”. What is Pulp for you? Is it just the music, or is it the lyrics, the cover, the whole image as well? Maria: “Music and lyrics is the most important thing. I like Pulp, because they also got style”. Leonidas: “Melody is the most important thing, definitely”. Nikos: “Certainly, but sometimes lyrics add an extra twist to the melody. I think these two are complementary”. Anna: “I think each element plays a particular part. Sometimes you pay attention to the lyrics, sometimes to the melody, the cover, everything really…”

Georgia: “I agree with Anna”. What other merchandise do you buy apart from records? Maria: “Most of the t-shirts I can get hold of in record-shops, and, of course, posters!” Georgia: “Mostly posters” Nikos: “I’m not a great fan of posters, but I do get most of the limited edition releases”. Leonidas: “Videos and limited edition singles”. Anna: “Posters and… my favourite t-shirt I enjoy wearing when going for clubbing with friends”

Georgia was very enthusiastic to find out about Pulp singer’s favorite cd’s, during the group’s meeting backstage with the band-members, and she said she was going to buy them straight away. She acted as if her idol had shared a secret with her, which made the whole encounter fascinating. Leonidas had asked Jarvis Cocker (Pulp’s singer) to sign his personal notebook during their meeting, and said that «I will never separate from this notebook». At this stage the discussion was interrupted as the band appeared on stage. After the end of the show, they were asked to describe it: Leonidas: “Definitely the best live I’ve ever seen”. Maria: “I don’t know what to say…” (looking shocked) Georgia: “I’ll remember this day for a very, very long time” Nikos: “Tonight’s version of ‘Common People’ was even better than the record” Anna: “The best band in the world”

Group 2
All males, fans of different, and congenial, styles of music (new wave, punk, alternative rock). Panagiotis (18), Thanasis (18), Dimitris (18), Stauros (19), Manolis (18), all students. The sample was selected randomly from the Smiths fan club (major 80’s U.K. new wave band) in Athens, and the discussion took place in a cafe. It lasted for about two hours, and the topics covered were live-shows, print-advertisements, record-covers and their impact on consumer psychology and intra-group communication. Below we present the findings of the discussion in a systematized way, that is by categorizing various answers under different headings. Interpretation of the utterances is provided, in order to extract certain themes that emerged in the course of the dialogue.

The discussion started by asking the participants to list bands they have been listening to for a considerable amount of time (at least two years). This preliminary question is crucial in that it provides a common ground for further questions, as different styles of music are accompanied by different frameworks of signification, and are responsible for creating different worlds.
1.

The live-show as an experience of ecstatic ritualistic fusion

Which are the live-shows that have been imprinted in your memory? Manolis: «U2 (97)» Dimitris: «Ramones (93)» Thanasis: «Black Sabbath (98)» Panagiotis: «Ozric Tentacles (98)» Stauros: «U2 (97)» Would you regard the experience of these shows as, in a certain sense, ecstatic, meaning that you ‘lost’ or ‘forgot’ yourself in the spectacle? Dimitris: «I remember the crowd dancing like mad... The band didn’t stop between the tracks, everything was moving very fast, you didn’t have time to think what was going on. It hit me like an explosion». Panagiotis: «The Ozric Tentacles show was a mix of very bright lights and ‘trippy’ music [the adjective was uttered in English]. Everybody just stood there, gazing. I can only compare it to the Tindersticks show I saw this year. You just lost yourself in the melody. It took me some time to recover». Manolis: «The U2 show was massive» Stauros: «Tell me about it..» Manolis: «I couldn’t believe it when I saw Bono (U2’s singer) on stage. It was like a dream come true. I have been a fan of this band for at least 8 years. Bono has been one of my favorite singers...It’s not only the lyrics, but the whole life-style. I mean they can shift between sounds without losing their originality. Bono has been involved with so many things, from modelling to music. He’s really something...» How did it feel to participate in such a big event with 15,000 people? Manolis: «It was great! It wasn’t one of those gigs where people chat and drink and do not pay attention to the artists. Everyone was really into it, enjoying themselves... ’Cause, let’s face it, U2 have been if not the biggest, one of the biggest bands on earth. It’s not a small thing to see them live, especially if you have been listening to them continuously for such a long time». In the course of the discussion the theme of the ‘taboo’ emerged completely unexpectedly, while discussing about cd covers and their adding extra value to the musical product. Before recording the answers on the ‘cover’ issue, let us glance at the

function of the musical product as a taboo. The utterance concerns the latest cd (digipack, i.e. unfolding cover) by the major American rock act Pearl Jam (on Epic Records, division of Sony Music): Thanasis: « I really like this cover because it unfolds both ways... Whichever way you open it there is s ‘Stop’ sign printed on the cover, like it wants to say don’t open me. It makes you wanna see what’s inside». This is clearly an example of the ‘logic of transgression’ which grounds the particular cd. It is a simulation of breaking the ‘taboo’ in an immanent world, the prohibited act of gazing at the nudity of the repressed primary signifier.
2.

Is the musical product the sum of different aesthetic features (music, cover layout, lyrics)?

Dimitris: «The lyrics and the music are equally important. I wouldn’t buy a record just for its cover, but I would prefer if there was a nice cover». Panagiotis: «I like the Smiths cover of ‘Meat is Murder’. It’s catchy... I can look at it for hours..» Stauros: «It has occurred in the past to buy a record because the cover looked nice and the music was crap!»
3.

The lyrics as a medium of intra-group communication

Has it ever happened to you to sing a tune or a string of lyrics with your peers for a certain amount of time? Manolis: « I recently came back from vacations in Mykonos. During our stay Chumbawamba’s song-lyrics ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again, till everybody keeps me down...’ were like a national anthem. We sang this song on the boat, on the street, everywhere». Thanasis: «In my group we sang Chumbawamba’s new song ‘Ole, Ole, Ole’ [the Mundial song]». Dimitris: «It has happened with a lot of different songs. At times we stack with a particular tune and repeated it over and over». Did you get the feeling that this tune brought you closer to each other? Dimitris: « I think so...» Manolis: « It makes us feel like a group». Does it mean anything else for you or is it just something spontaneous with no further meaning? Panagiotis: « You don’t think about it, you just do it»

Dimitris: « It’s not reflective, if you know what I mean...» Where did you first listen to this song by Chumbawamba? Both : «Rock FM» [Athen’s largest radio-station] Panagiotis: «None of us bought the record, we memorized it by listening to it on the radio» Would you say that repeated exposure to the advertising of a record, either through TV ads, print ads or air-play, makes you more prone to buy the record? Have you ever made a purchase as a result of this? Dimitris: « It depends on the record. If it’s something good then I might buy it. If it’s not worth, it makes you angry to listen to or read about it all the time» Manolis: «Sometimes it happens that they play a good track, which makes you buy a record. When you listen to the whole thing you discover there was only one good song about it. This makes you really angry». Do you believe that repeated exposure to advertising or promotion through air-play reminds you of a record you wanted to buy but forgot about it? Dimitris: «If the record is good, then you can’t forget about it» Manolis: « Sometimes, though, you may forget... Then advertising certainly helps you. However, when it is very intense and frequent it tends to be tiresome» When it comes to the live-show, do you talk about it with your peers after its end? Did it alter your image about the band? Panagiotis: «The Ozric Tentacles gig made a big impression on us. We didn’t talk about it all the time, but we have good memories from it. It was a spectacle we won’t forget. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the band before the gig, but that same week I bought their new record. In some way it kept the memories alive». Stauros: «I’ve been a fan of U2 for quite some time, and I had the records long before the show». Did you talk about it with your peers? Stauros: «We still talk about it, even though not as vividly as we did a week after its end». Would you say that it brought you closer to your idols? Stauros: « It wasn’t the same as meeting them, for example. But it was something like the real thing... You could see them and this helps you to evaluate whether they are authentic or not; if they feel what they play in the record»

Did your peers think the same? Stauros: «We were all speechless during the show; it was like a dream... After the end, back to the real world... I remember we kept commenting about how ‘big’ Bono [U2’s singer] looked on stage...»
4.

The musical product as a simulacrum (not representation), comprised of a chain of signifiers

Do the song-lyrics mean something for you, apart from what they say? Dimitris: « Sometimes they remind me of past events... They put me in different moods». Panagiotis: « When we sing them with my friends we don’t think about what they might mean. They just put us in a funny mood». Stauros: « When you’re depressed they can put you in the right mood. In another occasion they may be relaxing. To be honest I pay more attention to the melody than the ‘meaning’ of the lyrics». Has it ever occurred to you to be alone and look at a record-sleeve for hours or whistle a tune, with no particular reason? Manolis: « Once I was staring at the record-sleeve of ‘The World Won’t Listen’ by the Smiths for 1 hour or so...» Thanasis: « I stuck with the sleeve of ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The same design is reprinted four times on the cover and it is like a circle if you move it around.» Panagiotis: “I like staring at the Smiths ‘Meat is Murder’ cover…” Dimitris: “I would say ‘Meat is Murder’ is quite eye-catching… I also like the Smiths cover of ‘Queen is Dead’… There is a certain apathy in this cover” Stauros: “Yeah, but ‘The World Won’t Listen’ is by far better… It’s ‘real-life’ stuff, rather than a portrait…” Dimitris: “It depends on how you look at it…” Stauros: “I guess so…” Thank you very much for your cooperation

Group 3

All participants are members of the DEPECHE MODE fan-club in Athens. George (21) Marios (18) Eleutheria (19) Despoina (19) Filio (19) Introduction: We are gathered here in order to talk about your favourite act(s) and the various promotions techniques relating to them, i.e. live-shows, print ads, merchandise etc. Feel free to express your opinions in any way, as well as interrupt me for questions of clarification and remarks. This is not a one-to-one interview, so you can participate all at the same time. Filio (enthusiastic): We all look forward to the Depeche Mode gig in Milan. It’s going to be hysterical, you know everyone wants to go to the front, touch their feet, their hands… Some of us want to take them with us… You know it’s a life-long dream for us…Some members got a job in order to be able to pay for the expenses of the trip. So, getting in touch with Depeche Mode is a life-long dream? Despoina: Certainly. I have been a fan since a very early age. How many hours do you spend on a daily basis listening to Depeche Mode? Filio: All day long. Preferably their older tracks. It’s something you can’t get rid of. It’s ‘inside’ you. (pointing to her heart). Different tracks correspond to different dispositions. Which tracks would you term ‘happy songs’ and which ones ‘sad songs’? Filio: There is not any clear-cut answer to this. A ‘happy song’ like ‘Route 66’ can make you feel melancholic at the same time, depending on your disposition. If I’m sad I can listen to ‘In Your Room’ and get more sad, for many reasons. Even though Depeche Mode have written the song for a certain reason, I translate it into something else. Eleutheria: It’s not just the lyrics, it’s the melody as well. When I listen to ‘In Your Room’ I may be thinking of someone, and at the same time listen to ‘Enjoy The Silence’ and think I’m better off on my own. Filio: I’ve heard other members of the club saying that they’re really depressed, either because of family problems or sentimental problems and that Depeche Mode make their life worth living. The way you present it shows that Depeche Mode is a very personal experience for you; perhaps, something you like ‘doing’ individually, without the presence of anyone else.

Filio: Of course. I don’t like excitement outlets such as clubs or bars. I’d rather stay indoors and listen to music, unless we go out with club-members. Can you recall an experience that made you feel that Depeche Mode exist only for you? Despoina: As Filio said even though the band wrote a track for a particular purpose, you can always use it for your own purposes. I would listen to ‘In Your Room’, for example, when I’m sad or when I’ve lost something dear to me. Eleutheria: I remember when we lost someone with whom we were very close, the only thing I could do was listen to Depeche Mode. It was just me and Depeche Mode. But we are talking about Depeche Mode for quite some time now, without having clarified what Depeche Mode is. Is it the lyrics, the melody, the cover artwork, altogether? Eleutheria: I think everything. I remember looking at the record-cover of Violator for hours without any particular reason, like looking into the infinite… Filio: Whenever I am looking at the cover of Violator I feel like I live in it. It’s like I’m part of it. I can even smell the flower [sc. The album ‘Violator’ has a painted red rose on the cover]. I also look at the back cover, and everything printed on it, from the track-list to the label catalogue number. George: It happened to me with the record-cover of ‘Black Celebration’, and all those weird symbols it depicted. Does the artwork of a print ad have the same impact on you as the record cover? George: Record advertisements are not anything special. Normally it’s the record cover with the date of its release. However, it does make you anticipate the release of the record. I think the video-clip has a much stronger effect. Do you believe that the video-clip is one step closer to the ‘essence’ of the band, given the visual contact that is established? Filio: Certainly. Every time you watch a video-clip you pay attention to how the band is dressed, what’s the colour of their hair, the gestures, everything. Next day you may see ten fans dressed in exactly the same way. George: The way they wave at each other at the end of the video-clip for ‘It’s not good’ is remarkable. We wave at each other in exactly the same way (Laughs) Is there any other gestural tip that has become a channel of communication amongst you, either a facial expression, a salutation or a clothe? Despoina: Yes… In the video-clip of ‘It’s not good’ the singer has his arms around his waste and leans backwards in a very special way. In our meetings you can see a lot of people doing the same, while dancing or talking to each other.

How do you feel that George is the only one in this group who has seen Depeche Mode live? Eleutheria (attempting to strangle him): I envy him. Despoina: Respect, in some way, and admiration. And how do you feel that you’re travelling with the club in September to see them live in Milan? Filio: I don’t know how I’m going to react in the show. I might cry, I might scream, I don’t know. George: I remember Thekla, a club-member, in a Depeche Mode gig we attended in London two years ago. We were standing at the front row, and she was standing on my shoulders. Suddenly, the guitar-player pointed at her and she faded, breaking her watch while falling. Later on I gave her a backstage pass to meet with the band, and I remember her sitting afterwards in the foyer of the hotel not wanting to speak to anyone. She was in a state of a shock. Filio: I remember her saying that ‘Now Depeche Mode are on stage… Time has stopped for me’ George: I also remember another girl, to whom I had given a backstage pass, who was following the band around collecting their extinguished cigarettes. Afterwards, she would be demonstrating them to everyone pointing out who had been smoking what! What kind of objects that relate either directly or indirectly to the band (t-shirts, posters etc.), have acted as ‘fetishes’ for you ? Despoina: I can’t separate from the Hysterica t-shirt [sc. The name of the fan-club] George: My favourite object is a miniature of a Depeche Mode speaker, which has been produced in only fifty copies. It is the exact replica of the box of Martin’s engagement ring, and it was given as a present to hardcore fans. Inside the box there is a DM budge. Of course never wear it in fear of losing it. Does the possession of very limited edition items make you feel closer to the band? I mean, you own items that even the band-members themselves ignore their existence. This makes you more Depeche than Depeche! George (approvingly) : More Depeche than Depeche! Have you ever felt in a live-show that you lost yourself in the crowd? George: Many times. Even though when you go backstage the primary feeling of awe is slightly lost. During gigs I usually sit in the back. I want to have an overview of the concert.

Filio: On the contrary I like being in the crowd, in the front row. You can always catch something. You feel like one… Would you say that the live-show is something like a ritual, a process that brings you closer to your peers and other fans? Filio: It brings you closer to other club-members. You communicate in a very special way and when you recollect it afterwards it is only within the group that you can understand each other. People from outside cannot make sense because they haven’t felt it. Marios: The same happens when we invite local acts to play Depeche Mode tracks. We all gather in the front and we feel like we’re seeing Depeche Mode. There is a singer that moves and sings exactly like them. It’s like being there. Eleutheria: In club-parties, when we’re standing next to each other, it feels like something ‘more’. I don’t know how to describe this ‘more’. It’s like we’re all the nodes in a long chain. I remember during one of the club-meetings one guy grabbed me and danced with me. I didn’t even know him, but it felt very nice, very spontaneous and direct. Having created this distinctive world, with all the objects and words that make up its universe, can you give examples of how words or objects are employed as vehicles of communication? Filio: If another sings the lyrics of ‘In Your Room’ I think the implications are obvious (Laughter in the group) George: I think we pride in this club of having brought people closer to each other. Marios: Do you know how many couples have emerged from our meetings? Filio: I like to know that this person is one of ours; that he wears a Hysterica t-shirt. George: When we visited France to see Depeche Mode live, all fifty of us wore small hats (blue for the boys, red for the girls) and everyone stared at us. If I asked you to describe the world of Depeche Mode, which words would you use? George: Dark and obscure… Marios: Grey… Eleutheria: Incurably romantic, and… Despoina: Magic! Do you find shelter in this world, when facing dead-ends either in your personal or work lives? Despoina: Yes, it’s like a life-vest… Eleutheria: Especially in my personal life.. Have you ever identified yourselves with the images of your favorite artists as depicted in a poster or video-clip?

George: I believe that you always put yourself in the place of your idol. You think you are David, you are Mark or anyone else… This is how a fan works, just like a football fan… If somebody tells you the opposite he must be lying. Having invested so much energy on this band, what do you expect from them for the future? Filio: To break up! Why do you say this? Filio: I wouldn’t like to see them releasing a song that is not them. Everything has an expiration date, and I don’t want to see their decline. Would you ever build a Depeche Mode museum? Eleutheria: We were thinking about this the other day. We would like to exhibit our collections for fifteen days and tour different cities. Filio: If Depeche Mode ever broke up Hysterica would not cease to exist. Have you ever felt that you betrayed Depeche Mode in any of your actions? George: With the new album… Two months have passed and I still haven’t memorized the lyrics. Everybody pointing to Marios “Yes Marie, you do, all the time…” (in a reprimanding style). Marios (in an apologetic fashion): There was one period when I was listening to a completely different style of music… Have you ever felt, due to unexpected circumstances, that you wake up from the dreamworld of Depeche Mode? George: Many times, especially when facing economic problems. But I always come back… Thank God the songs are always there to remind you of past experiences… You can re-live the past by playing these songs… Thank you very much for your co-operation.

Group 4
All females, members of Madonna’s fan-club, based in Athens. The names of the participants are Maria (18), Dimitra (19), Jenny (18), Niki (19). The first three are Lyceum students, the fourth one is university-student. The discussion took place at a café. The discussion lasted for about one hour. Here follows the transcription: For how long have you been listening to Madonna? Jenny: “ It’s been about four years. It all started in the hype surrounding her Erotica album (93), which I think is the best album she’s done so far” Dimitra: “Around three years” Maria: “I would say around the same amount of years”. Niki: “Five years”. What is it so special about Madonna that you find exciting?

Dimitra: “Undoubtedly she is the sex-symbol of the decade… Also she is an excellent stage-performer, a stereotype for showmanship”. Niki: “The fact that she’s changed her image so many times, and she’s still at the top. I mean if you compare what she does not to what she did in 1983, you wouldn’t tell that it’s the same person. I like both her old and new stuff, even though I grew up with ‘Like A Prayer’, which is the more ‘reserved’ album Madonna did. Her new album ‘Ray of Light’ sounds much like what she did when she first started, but more updated. It’s got more of that dance stuff which has become popular ever since the release of ‘Erotica’. I think she’s unique in what she’s doing.” Maria: “The way she treats men (laughs from the group)… Basically the fact that she can be whatever she wants, get money out of it, and still be one of the best artists on earth”.

Jenny: “ Her music is very uplifting and at the same time very emotional. It has the power to bring all your emotions out… Whether sad or happy, Madonna will always make me feel alright…” Dimitra what do you like in particular about her showmanship? Have you ever seen Madonna live? Dimitra: “I haven’t seen her live, but I’d love to… I’ve seen many broadcast live-shows, video-clips and I own a couple of her video-tapes. The whole ‘spectacle’ is amazing. The way the dance acts move on stage, along with Madonna is better than a theater. When you see Madonna appearing in a cloud of smoke this is where you say ‘She’s a Goddess’”. Would the rest of you agree that Madonna is a Goddess on stage? Maria: “Not just on stage… She’s a Diva… Every time you open a newspaper or a magazine there’s no chance that you won’t read something about her”. Jenny: “She definitely is a Diva. In all her aspects… either in the video-clip of ‘Erotica’ or ‘Ray of Light’. The video-clip of Erotica is very artistic. I like it because it is black and white, lot simpler than what usually comes out”. Niki: “I think that on stage Madonna is her ‘true self’. She shows that she is the center of attention… Everything else is just complementary to what she’s doing up there…” Niki, could you elaborate on what you mean by saying that Madonna is her ‘true self’ on stage? Niki: “I mean that all that Madonna is about comes through in her singing and dancing on stage”. Don’t you get the same results while listening to her records? Niki: “I think the live-show is an additive to the record. It’s more direct in a way, as you can see what’s going on in front of your eyes”. Does everybody else agree that the live-show is more direct, and if yes what do you mean by ‘direct’ here? Jenny: “Definitely the live-show is where you get in touch with Madonna. Even if I haven’t see her live, I can judge from the video-tapes that it is a unique experience. There is something like a dialogue going on between her and the crowd”. Dimitra: “I agree with Jenny that you get in touch with your idol” Maria: “ …and at the same time with everyone else in the show. It’s also an occasion for meeting people with the same interests”. Apart from the live-show do you believe that other items, like posters, t-shirts, jewelry, collectable records, bring you closer to the artist?

Maria: “What do you mean by ‘closer’?” Do they strengthen the image of Madonna for you, do they help you communicate directly with the artist, like the live-show? Maria: “It’s not the same as the live-show, but I like collecting them. I feel in a certain way that… that I state part of myself when I’m wearing a Madonna t-shirt. I used to have a lot of posters in my room, but we had to re-paint it, so…” Dimitra: “I still have posters in my room, but not so many as I used to have when I was 15. I don’t buy t-shirts, I prefer listening to the music. But I did buy a sliver medallion with Madonna engraved on it last year, and I still wear it, see? (demonstrating her medallion) Jenny: “Posters are nothing like live-shows, but they still tell you something about the image of the artist”. Niki: “I’d say that live-shows cannot be compared to posters”. Do you have any posters in your room? Niki: “Allover the place. If you get in you think that Madonna is watching at you. I have a big one at the ceiling, facing my pillow, so when I wake up I can see Madonna in front of me.” Do you really believe that she’s looking at you? Niki: “Not literally, but it does help me get out of bed…” (laughs in the group) Do you identify yourself with Madonna when looking at a poster or when seeing her live in a broadcast show? Niki: “Sometimes I wish I was her, but again I don’t know if I could handle the pressure”. Dimitra: “I think I identify with her lyrics and image. The way she dresses is unique. It was a wise move for her to start a new clothes-brand”. Jenny: “The lyrics to her new album ‘Ray of Light’ are not as emotional as True Blue, but they are very uplifting. Especially the homonymous track makes you feel like you’re moving progressively towards the sun. Her voice has all these colors… It makes you feel rather than think what she sings about… The contrary happens with most of contemporary rock acts, which I find very flat and unemotional”. Maria: “I agree with Dimitra that Madonna has a unique dressing-code. I remember when we were 15 we used to dress like her and have loads of fun. Now we still wear t-shirts and stuff, but not all those flashy clothes we used to wear then”. Do you listen to Madonna alone or with friends? Maria: “Both. It’s different”

Niki: “Both” Dimitra: “Both” Jenny: “Both” What’s different in these two circumstances? Dimitra: “When you’re alone it’s more personal. It is personal when you’re with friends as well, but I guess the atmosphere is different”. Niki: “ It depends on the occasion… Sometimes you just want to be alone in your room and travel with the sound, and sometimes you just want to listen to the music while studying. With friends it’s more like having fun”. Jenny: “In group meetings we always listen to Madonna before going out or on vacation. It puts us in a good mood. It’s the same when I’m alone, but more personal…” Maria: “When I’m alone I listen to more ‘moody’ songs, like the ‘True Blue’ album, whereas with friends we listen mostly to the songs from ‘Ray of Light’. Is Madonna a regular discussion-topic with friends? Dimitra: “She’s always a topic in our discussions. She keeps changing all the time, you never run out of topics…” Maria: “All the time…” What do you usually talk about? Dimitra: “About everything, from her dresses to the jet-set parties she attends…” Maria: “ Mostly her style… Keeping up-to-date with Madonna’s style helps you see what the fashion-trends will be like in a couple of years”. Jenny: “Her baby was a massive change in her life… It brought happiness to her tortured life… I sympathize with her…We talked a lot about it recently…” Have you ever caught yourselves staring at Madonna’s face at a record-cover or poster and getting ‘lost’ in the image? Jenny: “Many times…Especially the record-covers of ‘True Blue’ and ‘Ray of Light’ where Madonna is at her most ‘sensational’…” Dimitra: “ ‘Erotica’ is my favourite period of Madonna. All the hype created around this album, and her naked photos was very callenging for its time, and still is…” Maria: “I agree that Erotica is the album where Madonna is more liberated than ever. I just like the way she doesn’t care about what others say, she does her own thing. As regards record covers, I’ve spent hours staring at True Blue, more than any other album.” Niki: “Erotica is the most sensational album. I still think its record-cover is the best ever” Do you believe, then, that Madonna is not just about the music, but about all those features as above-mentioned, that is her cover-portraits, poster-pictures, fashion-style, lyrics?

Niki: “Madonna is a way of life” Jenny: “Most definitely” Dimitra: “ She’s an idol, worth following in all her aspects… I still haven’t found something that would disturb me about her image”. Maria: “I think different aspects of Madonna reflect different aspects of life” Maria, could you expand on that? Maria: “I mean that her image changed so much throughout her albums that she has covered almost all aspects of what life is about. Erotica is about sex and… sex (laughs in the group), and Ray of Light is about her motherhood and stuff. True Blue is to some extent about romance… At least for me all the important emotions are there…” Madonna, then, significantly affects your personal and social lives… Maria: “Certainly”. Dimitra: “I would say so…” Jenny: “Definitely”. Niki: “Yes”.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Appendix 3 GLOSSARY OF TERMS Abbreviations L = J. Laplanche & J.B.Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, Hogarth Press, London 1973 Affect: Term borrowed by psycho-analysis from German psychological usage. It connotes any affective status, whether painful or pleasant, whether vague or well defined, and whether it is manifested in the form of a massive discharge or in the form of a general mood. According to Freud, each instinct expresses itself in terms of affect and in termsof ideas. (L p.13) Cathexis: The fact that a certain amount of psychical energy is attached to an idea or to a group of ideas, to a part of the body, to an object etc. (L p.62) Condensation: One of the essential modes of the functioning of the unconscious processes: a sole idea represents several associative chains at whose point of intersection it is located. From the economic point of view, what happens is that this idea is cathected by the sum of those energies which are concentrated upon it by virtue of the fact that they are attached to these different chains. Condensation can be seen at work in the symptom and, generally speaking, in the various formations of the unconscious. But it in dreams that its action has been more clearly brought out. It is shown up here by the fact that the manifest account is laconic in comparison with the latent content of the dream: it constitutes an abridged translation of the dream. Condensation should not, however, be looked upon as a summary: although each manifest element is determined by several latent meanings, each one of these, inversely, may be identified in several elements; what is more, manifest elements do not stand in the same relationship to each of the meanings from which they derive, and so they do no subsume them after the fashion of the concept” (L 83) Consciousness: From the functional standpoint, the perception-consciousness system stands opposed to the unconscious and preconscious as systems of mnemic traces: here no lasting trace of any excitation remains. From the economic point of view, the system is characterised by the fact that it has at its disposal a freely mobile energy capable of hypercathecting a given element (the mechanism of attention).(L p.84) Displacement: The fact that an idea’s emphasis, interest or intensity is liable to be detached from it and to pass on to other ideas, which were originally of little intensity but which are related to the first idea by a chain of associations. This phenomenon, though particularly noticeable in the analysis of dreams, is also observed in the formation of

psychoneurotic symptoms and, in a general way, in every unconscious formation. The psycho-analytic theory of displacement depends upon the economic hypothesis of a cathectic energy able to detach itself from the ideas and to run along associative pathways. The ‘free’ displacement of this energy is one of the cardinal characteristics of the primary process in its role as governor of the functioning of the unconscious system” (L p.121) Distortion: Overall effect of the dream of the dream-work: the latent thoughts are transformed into a manifest formation in which they are not easily recognisable. They are not only transposed, as it were, into another key, but they are also distorted in such a fashion that only an effort of interpretation can reconstitute them. (L p.124) Dream-work: The whole of the operations which transform the raw materials of the dream-work stimuli, day’s residues, dream-thoughts- so as to produce the manifest dream. Distortion is the result of dream-work. (L p.125) Ego: Economically, the ego appears as the ‘binding’ factor in the psychical processes; in defensive operations, however, its attempts to bind instinctual energy are subverted by tendencies characteristic of the primary process, and these efforts take on a compulsive, repetitive and unrealistic aspect. (L p.130) Ego-Ideal: As a distinct agency, the ego-ideal constitutes a model to which the subject attempts to conform (L p.144) Fixation: The fact that libido attaches itself firmly to persons or imagos, that it reproduces a particular mode of satisfaction, that it retains an organisation that is in accordance with the characteristic structure of one of its stages of development. A fixation may be manifest and immediate or else it may be latent. The notion of fixation is usually understood within the framework of a general approach presupposing an ordered development of the libido (fixation at a stage). It may also be viewed, aside from any genetic reference, in the context of the Freudian theory of the unconscious, as a name for the mode of inscription of certain ideational contents (experiences, imagos, phantasies) which persist in that unconscious in unchanging fashion and to which the instinct remains bound. (L p.162) Free energy: Terms connoting the Freudian distinction between the primary and secondary processes when viewed from the economic standpoint. In the primary process, the energy is said to be free or mobile inasmuch as it flows towards discharge in the speediest and most direct fashion possible; in the secondary process, on the other hand, it is bound in that its movement towards discharge is checked and controlled. Genetically speaking, the free state of energy is seen by Freud as prior to the bound one, and the latter is said to be characteristic of a more advanced stage in the structuring of the psychical apparatus (L p.171) Id: The id constitutes the instinctual the pole of the personality; its contents, as an expression of the instincts, are unconscious, a portion of them being hereditary and innate, a portion repressed and acquired (L p.197) Identification: Psychological process whereby the subject assimilates an aspect, property or attribute of the other and is transformed, wholly or partially, after the model the other provides. It is by means of a series of identifications that the personality is constituted and specified. (L p.205)

Imaginary: In the sense given to this term by Jacques Lacan, one of the three essential orders of the psycho-analytic field, namely the Real, the Symbolic and the Imaginary. The imaginary order is characterised by the prevalence of the relation to the image of the counterpart (le semblable). a. From the intrasubjective point of view, the basically narcissistic relation of the subject to his ego. b. from the intersubjective point of view, a so-called dual relationship based on- and captured by- the image of a counterpart (erotic attraction, aggressive tension). For Lacan, a counterpart (i.e. another who is not me) can only exist by virtue of the fact that the ego is originally another. c. As regards meaning, the Imaginary implies a type of apprehension in which factors such as resemblance and homeomorphism play a decisive role, as is borne out by a sort of coalescence of the signifier with signified. (L p.210) Imago: The Imago is often defined as an ‘unconscious representation’. It should be looked upon, however, as an acquired imaginary set rather than as an image: as a stereotype through which, as it were, the subject views the other person. Feelings and behaviour, for example, are just as likely to be the concrete expressions of the imago as are mental images. (p.211) Instinct: According to Freud, an instinct has its source in a bodily stimulus; its aim is to eliminate the state of tension obtaining at the instinctual source; and it is in the object, or thanks to it, that the instinct may achieve its aim (L p.214) Interpretation: Procedure which, by means of analytic investigation, brings out the latent meaning in what the subject says and does. Interpretation reveals the modes of the defensive conflict and its ultimate aim is to identify the wish that is expressed by every product of the unconscious. (L p.227) Latent content: Group of meanings revealed upon the completion of analysis of a product of the unconscious- particularly a dream. Once decoded, the dream no longer appears as a narrative in images but rather as an organisation of thoughts, or a discourse, expressing one or more wishes. (L p.235) Libido: Energy postulated by Freud as underlying the transformations of the sexual instinct with respect to its object (displacement of cathexes), with respect to its aim (i.e. sublimation), and with respect to the source of sexual excitation (diversity of the erotogenic zones).(L p.239) Manifest Content: Designates the dream before it receives any analytic investigation, as it appears to the dreamer who recounts it. By extension, we speak of the manifest content of any verbal product- from phantasies to literary works- which we intend to interpret according to the analytic method. (L 243) Object: In correlation with the instinct, the thing in respect of which and through which the instinct seeks to attain its aim. It may be a person or a part-object (part of a person’s body) or a phantasied one. (L p.273) Objet petit a: The ‘objet-petit-a’ represents the machine that unleashes desire. It is really Lacan’s formula for the lost object which underpins symbolisation, cause of, and ‘stand in’, for desire. Desire takes place in a specific place. All the objects have some relationship to separation. The breath, the voice, a song, all of these things can be objects of desire. Evan a glance can be an ‘objet-petit-a’. (Sarup 1992, p.69)

Phallic Woman: Woman endowed, in phantasy, with a phallus. This image has two main forms: the woman is represented either as having an external phallus or phallic attribute, or else as having preserved the male’s phallus inside herself. (L 311) This is the Freudian interpretation, the limitations of which exceed the scope of this dissertation. The Lacanian notion of the Phallus (see below) has been used in this dissertation (cf. 2.6.2 for an interpretation using Madonna as an example) Phallus: The use of the term underlines the symbolic function taken on by the penis in the intra- and inter-subjective dialectic... The phallus turns out to be the meaning- i.e. what is symbolised- behind the most diverse ideas… Jacques Lacan has attempted reorientation of psycho-analytic theory around the idea of the phallus as the ‘signifier of desire’. (L pp.312-314) Phantasy: Phantasy has a number of different modes: conscious fantasies or day-dreams [sc. Cf, for example 5.2.1 a), unconscious phantasies like those uncovered by analysis as the structures underlying a manifest content, and primal phantasies (L 314) Pleasure Principle: One of the two principles which, according to Freud, govern mental functioning: the whole of psychical activity is aimed at avoiding unpleasure and procuring pleasure. Inasmuch as unpleasure is related to the increase of quantities of excitation, and pleasure to their reduction, the principle in question may be said to be an economic one (L 322). [sc. This position was challenged by Freud himself in his essay ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’, in the context of traumatic neurosis. Also, the Lacanian concept of Jouissance was a step beyond the formal symmetry between pleasure/unpleasure). Preconscious: Term used by Freud in the context of his first topography: as a substantive, it denotes a system of the psychical apparatus that is quite distinct from the unconscious system (Ucs); as an adjective, it qualifies the operations and contents of this preconscious system (Pcs). As these are not currently present in the field of consciousness, they are unconscious in the descriptive sense of the term, but they differ from the contents of the unconscious system in that they are still in principle accessible to consciousness (e.g. knowledge and memories that are not presently conscious)… It also describes what escapes immediate consciousness without being unconscious in the strict sense of the word. As far as systems are concerned, the term qualifies contents and processes associated, mainly, with the ego-but also, to some extent, with the super-ego (L pp.325326) Primary Repression: Hypothetical process described by Freud as the first phase of the operation of repression. Its effect is the formation of a certain number of unconscious ideas- the ‘primal repressed’. (L 333) Primary Process/ Secondary Process: The two modes of functioning of the psychical apparatus as specified by Freud. From the economico-dynamic point of view, in the case of the primary process, psychical energy flows freely, passing unhindered, by means of the mechanisms of condensation and displacement, from one idea to another and tending to completely recathect the ideas attached to those satisfying experiences which are at the root of unconscious wishes (primitive hallucination); in the case of the secondary process, the energy is bound at first and then it flows in a controlled manner: ideas are cathected in a more stable fashion while satisfaction is postponed, so allowing for mental experiments which test out the various possible paths leading to satisfaction. (L 339)

Psychoanalysis: As a method of investigation which consists essentially in bringing out the unconscious meaning of the words, the actions and the products of the imagination (dreams, phantasies, delusions) of a particular subject. The method is founded mainly on the subject’s free associations, which serve as the measuring-rod of the validity of the interpretation. (L 367) Reality Principle: One of the two principles which for Freud govern mental functioning. The reality principle is coupled with the pleasure principle, which it modifies: in so far as it succeeds in establishing its dominance as a regulatory principle, the search for satisfaction does not take the most direct routes but instead makes detours and postpones the attainment of its goal according to the conditions imposed by the outside world. Viewed from the economic standpoint, the reality principle corresponds to a transformation of free energy into bound energy. (L 379) Representability: Requirement imposed on the dream-thoughts; they undergo selection and transformation such as to make them capable of being represented by imagesparticularly visual images (L 389) Repression: Strictly speaking, an operation whereby the subject attempts to repel, or to confine to the unconscious, representations (thoughts, images, memories) which are bound to an instinct. Repression occurs when to satisfy an instinct- though likely to be pleasurabnle in itself- would incur the risk of provoking unpleasure because of other requirements. (L 390) Sublimation: Process postulated by Freud to account for human activities which have no apparent connection with sexuality but which are assumed to be motivated by the force of the sexual instinct. The main types of activity described by Freud as sublimated are artistic creation and intellectual inquiry. (L 431) Substitute Formation: Economically, the symptom furnishes the unconscious wish with a replacement satisfaction; symbolically, one content of the unconscious is supplanted by another according to certain chains of association (L 434) Symbolic: It covers those phenomena with which psycho-analysis deals in so far as they are structured like a language (L 439) Symptom-Formation: Term used to denote the fact that the psychoneurotic symptom is the result of a specific process, of a psychical working out…Freud assimilates symptomformation to the return of the repressed (L 446) Transference: A process of actualisation of unconscious wishes. Transference uses specific objects and operates in the framework of a specific relationship established with these objects. (L.455)

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