The project studies the impact of digitalisation on minority music with the musical life of the Swedish-speaking population of Finland as a case study. The backdrop to the project are the huge transformations in the storing, distribution and consumption of music brought about by sound editing software, new home studio equipment and the Internet. In this way, then, digitalisation has also been significant for music in everyday life and social belonging. As old identity constructions and taste communities are reshaped or divided, new forms of social belonging have been established. The time is opportune to analyse what significance digitalisation has had for the music life of minorities. In larger terms, the subject has relevance to some of the central themes in post-industrial music cultures, such as artistic expression, accessibility and cultural democratisation.
The project’s main research question is: How has digitalisation affected the musical life of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland? This leads to the follow-up questions: In what way and to whom is music accessible in the new digital environment? Furthermore, it is relevant to ask what new forms of creativity and cultural expressions digital development has led to and what kind of cultural meanings are created and disseminated. All these themes relate also to the agency of music users, their self-determination and the question of whether digitalisation enhances, coincides with or contradicts minority belonging.
The project draws on earlier music industry research but aims also to develop new tools of cultural analysis to investigate the relationship between technology and music. Digitalisation is here understood as something more than just a technologically deterministic component in an industrial chain of production and consumption. It is an integrated part of all the cultural activities involved with music.
The Swedish-speaking population of Finland constitutes an interesting case for research in digitalisation. The population group’s multifaceted musical life offers several relevant approaches to the subject, with the additional benefit of Finland’s fast post-industrial development. The project maps out both the digital change in general terms, as well as more specifically who and what sectors have been affected by it.
The research is carried through in five sub-studies:
- Digitalisation and folk music
- Digital recontextualisation in popular music
- Art music, digitalisation and minority belonging
- The digital paths of amateur music making
- Music in digital everyday life