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This paper builds upon existing work regarding the social contexts of interactive on-line content creation. Through an ethnographic examination of local-level music production and distribution in two American college towns, I demonstrate how musicians cultivate audiences through social capital that is exchanged both on-line and off-line. Active social networking is crucial to their music distribution and promotion. Through digital file sharing and social networking sites, musicians mobilize bonded social capital around their image and music. However, they have difficulty bridging the networks they cultivate with a broader audience, despite their desire to do so. This paper concludes with a sketch of the possibilities for musicians to develop bridging social capital, noting that new media industries capitalize on this desire, turning producers of on-line content into consumers of on-line media content and services. By employing a framework of social networks and social capital, this paper contributes more broadly to sociological understanding of how culture is transmitted through social networks and how social capital is an important resource in the ability to gain recognition for one's cultural expressions in the digital age.
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Keywords: Web 2.0; music; social capital; social networking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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