Record contracts have been the goal of aspiring musicians, but are they still important in the era of SoundCloud? Musicians in the United States still seem to think so, flocking to auditions for The Voice and Idol brands or paying to perform at record label showcases in the hopes of landing a deal. The belief that signing a record contract will almost infallibly lead to some measure of success— the “ideology of getting signed,” as Arditi defines it—is alive and well.
Though streaming, social media, and viral content have turned the recording industry upside down in one sense, the record contract and its mythos still persist. Getting Signed provides a critical analysis of musicians’ contract aspirations as a cultural phenomenon that reproduces modes of power and economic exploitation, no matter how radical the route to contract. Working at the intersection of Marxist sociology, cultural sociology, critical theory, and media studies, Arditi unfolds how the ideology of getting signed penetrated an industry, created a mythos of guaranteed success, and persists in an era when power is being redefined in the light of digital technologies.