Political Economy

This week, our topic was political economy in popular music and radio. Political economy involves the production, distribution and consumption of media texts, in order for this to work, we must consider the funding/ownership, organisation and regulations of media texts. This helps us dissect industries and understand how they work and why.

I looked at, ‘The political economy of Internet music radio’ by Tim Wall and ‘Political economy, power and new media’ by Robin Mansell. While Mansell, R. (2004) focuses on political economy in terms of new media, it links well to the majority of the reading by Wall, T. (2004).

Tim Wall states that social and economic forces are driving developments, such as the World Wide Web and propose ways of understanding what is happening now and what could potentially happen in the next twenty years in the radio industry. This also provokes the suggestion that the media is influenced by what the public do and want. In addition to this, the lack of political economy analysis into research of new media can suggest that these social and economic dynamics of the production and consumption of new media, continue to simply be the subject of speculation (Mansell, R. 2004).

With the advancements in technology and the arrival of the internet, the change from over-the-air-radio to online was obvious. Wall presents a list of traditional characteristics of over-the-air radio, the introduction of the internet and internet radio has challenged some of these ideas. For example, Wall mentions that over-the-air radio is often privately owned by a part of a major media corporation and “such companies are overwhelmingly profit-maximizing, and revenue is in the main generated through selling advertising space in programming or through sponsorship”. With internet radio, this has been challenged through Podcasts, anyone can create them and share them online thus challenging over-the-air radio. Also, there is a lot of work that we can use to build upon in the tradition of political economy of the ‘older’ media. Thus leading to predictions about the future of new media, including internet radio and music, but also to provide a more holistic foundation for future research (Mansell, R. 2004).

An area of the political economy of popular music that isn’t researched so much is festivals. Researching how they’re regulated is particularly interesting due to the number of organisations that take part in festivals; BBC, NME, Relentless etc. They all will have their own regulation standards for a festival.



Mansell, R. (2004) ‘Political economy, power and new media’, New Media & Society, 6(1), pp. 96–105.

Wall, T. (2004) ‘The political economy of Internet music radio’, Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media, 2(1), pp. 27–44.


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