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The TREND Network

International Research Network (IRN-CNRS) TRansforming ENtertainment in the Digital age (TREND)

Coordinator : Violaine Roussel (CRESPPA-Labtop)

Project Presentation

The “transition to digital” in the entertainment industry appears to observers as a major upheaval and, at the same time, a ubiquitous and ongoing process which poses a challenge to academic analysis and professional practice alike. Much of the professional and popular discourse on this topic points to a technological revolution that is disrupting industry conventions and audience behaviors. In fact, however, key industry players are at the heart of these transformations and actively contribute to shaping them behind the scenes. This project investigates how the uses of technologies by entertainment professionals translate into the emergence of new areas of specialties and changes in career paths and work organization ; how new channels for content distribution and circulation come to prevail, audiences get re-delineated, business models re-imagined, and creative content redefined in the process. It explores how preexisting occupational systems shape the digital transformation as much as they are reconfigured by it, in ways that are extremely consequential for creative practices and projects that develop at the very core of these industries. What is at stake with this project is therefore nothing less than shedding new light on the making of popular culture as it is drastically changing.

More specifically, the worlds of production, distribution, and talent representation are the focus of this study, defining an original angle to grasp this transformation process. Our empirical fields of study include and compare the French and American film, television, and music industries while placing the analysis of their transformation and changing relations in the larger European and global context.

To do so, this project brings together an interdisciplinary team of expert scholars and leading professionals of the studied industries. Starting from preexisting collaborations in the context of an International Project for Scientific Cooperation (PICS CNRS), this initiative extends the perimeter of the partnerships to include three American research teams and French scholars from various research centers : CRESPPA (Centre de recherches sociologiques et politiques de Paris), co-affiliated with CNRS, University of Paris 8 and University Paris Nanterre, partners with the UCSB Orfalea Center for Global Studies (21st Century Global Dynamics, headed by Michael Curtin), the UCLA Film, Television and Digital Media department (Denise Mann’s Transforming Hollywood initiative), and the USC School of Cinematic Arts (Michael Renov). In addition, individual scholars in other institutions in France and the US have also joined the team and bring their expertise to the network.

This IRN creates new scientific synergies by organizing the cooperation of researchers otherwise dispersed across different institutions and place the international research team it forms in favorable conditions to develop leading innovative research on the basis of stable collaborations.

This project develops in three interconnected directions. We investigate :

(1) the reconfiguring of professional relations, especially (1.1) the transformations of professional roles and identities with the rise of new brokers and middlemen in the studied entertainment industries (new categories of “sellers” and “buyers” of talent and content, including the new international streaming platforms) and the ways in which they contribute to shaping new types of artistic profiles and careers, and (1.2.) the correlative emergence of new cultural forms (the definition of new creative genres and formats) and the subversion of the traditional divisions between different categories media (transmedia production) ;

(2) the identification of new audiences in the age of predictive algorithms and the construction of digital markets : we will examine (2.1) how the studied professional activities collectively concur to making digital markets and reshaping economic relations and business models ; (2.2.) this is also inseparable from the ways in which the concerned professionals have to rethink authorship and creative rights, and participate, more or less directly, to the definition of issues of “digital heritage.”

(3) digital circulations and embedded sociotechnical transformations : we explore (3.1) the interplay of local processes of digital transformation, on one hand, and the transnational circulation of artists and projects between the studied industries, on the other hand ; as well as (3.2.) the intertwining of transformations that are specific to the entertainment industries with those simultaneously affecting other social worlds with which entertainment professionals have close relationships or strong interdependence. This includes, in particular, the alliances and mutual investment strategies that increasingly often tie entertainment organizations to new technology companies.

The activities and events organized in the context of this IRN project include internal workshops and seminars which gather the network participants on a regular basis in Paris and in Los Angeles, as well as international public events held in the two countries. The program of events combines academic conferences with events/panels aimed at a much wider audience, allowing us to reach beyond the scientific community, the students, and the most directly concerned professional circles, and to attract various profiles of participants with an interest in the arts and digital media.

Past events

- TREND Panel “Documentary media in the age of streaming platforms”, Visible Evidence International Conference, Los Angeles, July 24-28, 2019
https://www.visibleevidence.org/conference/visible-evidence-xxvi/

- TREND Day of conference : “The political economy of digital media” (with Patrick Vonderau, Martin Luther University & Jacob Matthews, Université Paris 8) and “Understanding algorithmic governmentality” (with Thomas Berns, Université Libre de Bruxelles), CRESPPA, Paris, December 4, 2019.
http://www.cresppa.cnrs.fr/labtop/evenements/journee-de-l-irn-trend-transforming-entertainment-in-the-digital-age?lang=en

Upcoming Events

- March 16, 2020, TREND Symposium (De)Mobilizing with Digital Media, Paris. Co-organizers : Violaine Roussel (University of Paris 8/CRESPPA-CNRS) & Ann Crigler (USC)
http://www.cresppa.cnrs.fr/labtop/evenements/colloque-de-mobilizing-with-digital-media-16-mars-2020

4 octobre 2019