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Knowing fans, knowing music : an exploration of fan interaction on Twitter

  • Author(s): McCollum, Nick
  • et al.
Abstract

In this thesis, I examine what "knowing music" means to participants in online social musicking activities, along with the role Twitter plays in this process. I compare the way I came to "know" music through social networks with others' behaviors regarding music and social networking. Using Henry Jenkins's research framework as an aca-fan (a portmanteau word combining academic and fan), I study fan communities from the inside out. I begin by outlining my story of coming to know the music that I do. Next, in order to identify other fan behavior, I discuss two case studies: a Josh Ritter concert I attended with people I met through Twitter and the fan community surrounding Amanda Palmer. Finally, I introduce four fans from my own online social network with whom I'm connected because of Ritter. I discuss their responses to questions about Twitter's role in their coming to "know" music. Based on my small sampling, I find that fans identify two main forms of knowing music aside from being able to read and play it. First, they consider understanding popular music history and trends important to knowing music. Second, they form deeper connections with particular songs through thoughtful listening and understanding musicians' personalities. The fans I interviewed agree that Twitter helps greatly with the first, but those who value deeper connections with the music find that Twitter can detract from their experience of music by making it more difficult to form these connections. Their online activity is consistent with these opinions

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