Informal Labor in the Sharing Economy: Everyone Can Be a Record Producer

The following is an excerpt from an article I published in Fast Capitalism volume 13.1. To read the entire article, please visit here.

The availability of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) – digital software that allows musicians and producers to record music on a computer – changes the social relations of production in the studio. Much as digital music stores helped to close bricks-and-mortar music stores (Arditi 2014c), cheap DAWs have made large record studios increasingly obsolete. The informality of digital media does not end with distribution and consumption, but extends to labor in the production of digital culture. With digital technology, everyone can be a record producer, but even fewer people can make a living from record production.

Sharing is fundamental to rhetorical discussions of the Internet. Jonas Andersson Schwarz claims “‘Sharing’ has become one of the most telling pastimes of our digital, networked age” (Andersson Schwarz 2013:1). There are four uses of the term “sharing” as relates to the Internet. First, we can talk about file sharing and the gift economy. Matthew David claims that file sharing has “the potential to circulate [informational] goods freely through the Internet,” which he contends could lead to the end of scarcity of informational goods (2010:2). Read More …