Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Tim J. Anderson

Committee Member

Sarah Florini

Committee Member

D. E. Wittkower


This thesis is a qualitative study that critically examines crowdfunding campaigns established to fund music projects. It argues that these campaigns are instantiations of neoliberalism, influenced by and reflective of cultural commitments operative within music communities and a shifting industrial context. For this study, neoliberalism represents a particular mode of free market capitalism characterized by discourses emphasizing individual agency free from regulatory constraints, and the rearticulation of cultural values rhetorically prioritized over market interests. Emerging within this cultural and industrial ecology informed and motivated by neoliberalism, and shaped through the dynamic flux of fan/artist relationships and industrial uncertainty, the crowdfunding model potentiates both the establishment of a new industrial paradigm that empowers both artist and fan, as well as an ideologically disguised instance of consumer disempowerment that works against the values of community the model puts forth.