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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 9, Number 1 (2009)

The Representation of Major and Independent Record Labels in Billboard Magazine

James E. Hearn
University of North Alabama


The portrayal of majorities and minorities by media organizations impacts attitudes and opinions, and has been a central theme of social psychological and mass communication research. Essentially, media reporting of various groups can shape public perception of those groups, becoming a factor in determining the level of influence of these organizations. This research seeks to quantify media portrayal and exposure of independent and major record labels via text analysis techniques. The texts, news articles from the trade magazine Billboard, are examined for not just when labels are mentioned, but also used to determine how labels are represented. Creative and business attributes given to these organizations by writers are examined, and the implications of such representations are also discussed. The relationship between major and independent record labels is complex but important to examine. Small businesses play a significant role in the music industry, despite the minority share of the market they control. However, when indie label activities are over-reported, media theory suggests that the public may credit indie labels with more market share and influence than they actually have. The inverse is also true of major record labels.

Keywords: music industry, record labels, media, Billboard, trade magazines, media influence, agenda setting, mass communication, independent record labels, text analysis

Hearn, James E. “The Representation of Major and Independent Record Labels in Billboard Magazine.Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 9, no. 1 (2009): 113-132. https://doi.org/10.25101/9.5

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