Classical Music Culture and Users on YouTube

Yesterday, at the Internet Research 11 conference, I presented the first findings from a small pet project of mine: the study of classical music culture and classical music fans on YouTube.  In the study, I have so far looked at which kind of classical music videos you can find on YouTube and I have carried a analysis of the +5000 comments on two videos with two different sopranos (Maria Callas and Anna Netrebko) singing the aria “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s opera Norma.

Findings so far:
General insight: classical music user also exhibit fan behaviour (not surprising, but surprisingly few people have written academic articles about them as fans until now). Their  “fan” behaviour might not be that different (?!) from other music fans, but it is still interesting to reflect on how in particular classical music use practices and appraisal norms are reframed and changed by a particular social media format. In my further work, I would like to look in more detail at at the way the hardcore fans or “connoisseurs” frame themselves as music authorities in the ongoing discussions of what is “good singing” or not.

The comment analysis:
– only 0.1 % of the viewers of the Maria Callas video have posted comments
– 84 people have commented on both videos
– you can find very knowledgeable “opera fans” amongst the commenters, discussing technical aspects of singing and the singers, using also other YouTube videos as reference framework
… but most commenters appear to be avid fans of either of the two singers (Callas & Netrebko), posting either a one or two comments of praise or engaging in long hateful flamewars against each other, using very strong language
– around 10 people have each posted more than 100 comments in sum on the two videos

Slides from my presentation (with more detailed info) is available here (for a short while, as I plan to turn this research into a journal article).