What makes a music recommendation valuable? The Quest for Authenticity in International Students’ Music Consumption

Angelika Martina Hornung

Student thesis: Master thesis


The general discussion, which tasks can or cannot be automated is currently ongoing concerning many professional fields. In the music industry, the widespread use of technology, especially streaming services, has a great impact on music distribution and consumption. Whether or not a machine or any person could be seen in terms of cultural intermediaries, which is the traditional concept to analyze how music gets recommended to customers, is contested. Since existing research, focusing on the cultural intermediaries’ view on how they could be seen as legitimate does not seem to bring any clarity in the field, the concept of authentication was identified, in order to assess the value of music recommendations in the eyes of consumers. The aim of this research project was to understand the consumer perspective on the value of music recommendations stemming from various sources. To do so, eighteen international students filled out a diary study for one week and afterwards expanded on their accounts in in-depth interviews. Through this empirical data and the review of corresponding literature, the concept of goal-driven authentication regarding control and connection could be identified. Participants interpreted the authenticity, which could be seen as value arising through perceived trustworthiness of a recommendation, and accordingly either accepted or rejected song suggestions. They generally showed signs, that they expected to be able to exert control over the music consumption process when assessing authenticity. Another goal the participants wanted to pursue through music recommendations was to connect to other people or culture. If a music recommendation allowed the participants to fulfill one or the other goal, it was seen as authentic and thus worthy to listen to. It could be seen that the goal-fulfillment of control appeared to be strong when using technology, while the goal of connection seemed to play a bigger role when receiving or asking for music recommendations from people in the participants’ social network. A failure in giving a good song suggestion, lead to strong negative feelings if control was mainly sought, while the reaction was indifferent or even positive when the goal was to establish a connection. Those findings could highlight how consumers valuate music recommendations and accordingly help to understand how music recommendations from a machine and a person differ from a consumer perspective.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages82