Platform Complexity: Lessons from the Music Industry

David Tilson*, Carsten Sørensen, Kalle Lyytinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Platforms provide anchor-points for coordinating varied activities within an ecosystem. Understanding platform complexity and its effects is therefore a vital concern for academia and industry. The complexity defines the range of possible activities on the platform and the related aspects of control. This paper argues that abstract models of platforms used in current research remove some of the most important features underlying the inherent complexity of digital platforms. This insight is illustrated with a small study of platforms and their evolving complexity in the music industry. The exploration highlights salient phenomena that a more comprehensive theory of digital platforms should encompass. We posit that advancing theoretical perspective that better embrace the complexity of digital platforms is needed to fully capture the strategic and technological implications of emerging digital platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 46th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2013
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationLos Alamitos, CA
Publication dateMar 2013
Article number6480401
ISBN (Print)9781467359337
ISBN (Electronic)9780769548920
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 46th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. HICSS 2013 - Wailea, United States
Duration: 7 Jan 201310 Jan 2013
Conference number: 46


ConferenceThe 46th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. HICSS 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
SponsorUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa
SeriesProceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences


  • Platforms
  • Digital platforms
  • Control
  • Generativity
  • Music industry

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