This article contrasts present conceptions of pop musicians’ career development with ideas from the 1960s to 1990s. It identifies two divergent key concepts: the artrepreneur and the record contract. As a counterpart, the article evaluates empirical findings from an interview study with German and US-American musicians to answer the following research question: How are concepts of career management advocated and how are they related to the musician’s practices? This research suggests that in the 1970s to 1990s, self-management was regarded as a necessary evil before getting a recording contract, which was seen as a central aim for musicians. This widespread concept stood in stark contrast to the actual conditions of work in the field and can thus be described as forming an important part of the illusio (in Bourdieu’s sense), motivating participation while at the same time masking the actual working conditions. Today, in the age of digital communication networks, the record contract is no longer as crucial as it used to be. Instead, self-management is presented as a new, central, and legitimate strategy to push musicians’ careers forward even though studies show that the chances for independent musicians have not grown. The concept of the musician as artrepreneur replaced the hopes that were connected with the record contract. This shift is part of a new illusio that now motivates the musician’s participation in the music market. This paper attempts a small contribution
toward unmasking the illusions that are connected with the illusio, which for Bourdieu is
among the central functions of sociology.


digital music market, internet platforms, musicians, music distribution, record labels

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)