From 12 to 14 September 2017, the 8th Vienna Music Business Research Days—themed as “Unchaining the Digital Music Business?”—took place at the mdw. This event focused on the new gatekeeping procedures that have been established by both “old” and “new” players in the music business. International experts discussed these as well as the influence that new innovations, among them blockchain technologies, might have on gatekeeping in general.

Morning Panel Discussion ©Magdalena Tschmuck

A blockchain is an open, distributed ledger of transactions that uses encryption to resist manipulation while remaining transparent for all; musicians can use it for things like pieces of music to their fans [for a virtual currency such as Bitcoin] without needing an intermediary.

Daniel Nordgård of the University of Agder (Norway) held the introductory talk and then led the panel discussion with Sally Gross (University of Westminster, London), Sarita Stewart (Belmont University, Nashville), Scott Cohen (The Orchard, New York), and Stefan Baumschlager (Record Bird, Vienna). In the presentation that followed, George Musgrave of the University of Westminster in London spoke on “Control and Autonomy in the Digital Music Business”. The afternoon saw the two keynote speakers, Alan Graham and Wolfgang Senges, critically question the current blockchain hype, after which they were joined by Carlotta de Ninni (Mycelia for Music project) and Kelly Snook (University of Brighton) to discuss the influence of blockchain technologies as well as other technical innovations on the music business.

On the Conference Track Day, musicological researchers from all over the world presented their latest research findings to the interested public. The thematic arc ranged from the economics of music festivals to music piracy and on to papers dealing with artist-fan relations, social media management, and the role of blockchain technologies in the music business.

The programme was rounded out by the 7th Scholars’ Workshop, in which master’s degree and PhD students from around the world introduced their research projects and discussed them music business researchers. Benjamin Schiemer, of Johannes Kepler University in Linz, received the award for the workshop’s best paper for “Virtual Songwriting: Fostering Creative Processes through ‘Challenge’ and ‘Collaboration’”.


You can find a detailed summary of the 8th Vienna Music Business Research Days at:

Watch the video recording from Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 in our media centre:

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