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“Streaming Capital” examines the industrial organization of music platforms. The “multisided markets” they convene confer upon music a peculiar economic status. By ensuring that users never pay directly for music, platforms make music appear to users as if it has been decommodified, transformed into a quasi-public good. Yet for agents situated on other sides of streaming’s multisided market (labels, publishers, and the platforms themselves), music remains thoroughly commodified. On the one hand, on streaming platforms music appears to users as simply there, as something free for the taking, much as nature (and water in particular) has long been imagined within classical and neoclassical economics. On the other hand, as a public good that has been privatized, digital music’s givenness on streaming platforms is contingent, being conditional on users having paid the requisite toll to gain access to the enclosure where this music is housed.

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