The king is dead, long live the king! Superstar extinction and artist consecration in the music industry 1958-2014

28 aprile 2016
Versione stampabile

2 PM 
Room 3E, Department of Economics and Management


  • Simone Santoni, Cass Business School, City University of London

A rich and vibrant tradition building on Bourdieu's pioneering insights treats cultural producers (e.g., musicians, painters or actors) as engaged in an ongoing struggle to secure notoriety, prestige, and esteem from colleagues. In this struggle to define what counts as culturally legitimate, the social audiences that control access to symbolic and material resources play a crucial role. Cultural consecration can be viewed as the most definitive form of legitimation---by conferring honours, awards, and prizes, cultural consecration separates individuals and achievements that are worthy of admiration and respect from those that are not. The structural outcomes of this struggle has been conceptualized as a core-periphery dichotomy in which ``the inner core of actors tends to be a small world of tightly knit individuals, whereas eh periphery is more open allowing individuals with skills and resources to gain an entry point into the system.'' What is less clear is how cultural producers can advance their careers by accruing credits and connections that allow them to move from the margins of a network to the center. We aim to contribute to this conversation by articulating the role of exogenous shocks---i.e., the premature, sudden deaths of core producers---as revolutionary events that force the social audiences to re-allocate resources previously locked-in, and, in so doing, can create new vistas on the periphery of the network. We explore this intuition in the context of the music industry, one of the most prominent yet less investigated cultural markets. Specifically, we rely upon a novel, completely-disambiguated database of archival and on-line data spanning 60 years, around three million of unique releases and almost four thousand symbolic resource allocation decisions in the form of Grammy awards. Cutting-edge software is applied to analyse a bipartite graph containing more than 15 million of artist-release dyads and to provide statistical evidence about the effects and mechanisms relating super-star extinction events to the consecration of cultural producers coming from the periphery of the network.


cultural markets, allocation of symbolic resources, valuation, core-periphery networks, social network analysis, natural experiments.


Gino Cattani (Leonard Stern Business School, New York University), Simone Ferriani (University of Bologna), and Simone Santoni (Cass Business School, City University London)