Informations and abstract
What factors shape the diversity of media products? A literature on the recording industry offers competing accounts. The "cyclical account" stresses the negative impact of market concentration, where high concentration dampens the diversity of recordings. The "open system" account stresses the conditional impact of concentration: when centralized production prevails, high concentration dampens diversity; when decentralized production prevails, high concentration and diversity can co-occur. The present paper extends this literature in several ways. First, drawing on the quantitative analysis of content, it examines the impact of concentration on the "musical" diversity of hit records. Second, it tests the strength of both accounts by considering a time period where concentration rose and where decentralized production prevailed. Finally, it augments both accounts by considering other factors that could likewise affect musical diversity. The results offer strong support for the open system account. From 1955 to 1990, under decentralized production, concentration and musical diversity both increased. The results also expand the open system account. Autonomous performers were most likely to create musically diverse recordings; songs with extended instrumental passages and songs of long duration likewise fostered musical diversity.