Status Decoupling: Commercial Success and Peer Recognition among Nashville Songwriters 1990-2012
Skaggs, Rachel Elizabeth
A cultural producer’s status comes from multiple sources. It is formed from a combination of peer, critic, and consumer approval. When all types of status are high, they are self-perpetuating; commercially successful work attracts “good” jobs that are likely to become commercially successful. Consumers reinforce the “success breeds success” model of status acquisition by purchasing things that are familiar; producers respond by falling back on what worked in the past. Despite the seemingly reflexive nature of a producer’s status, research finds that two types of status, commercial success and peer recognition, are not fully aligned and that different types of work contribute to commercial success and peer recognition. The purpose of my research is to determine the effect that commercial success and peer recognition have on success over time using the case-in-point of Nashville songwriters. Nashville songwriters participate in collaborative work in a dynamic reputational labor market. Reputation and status come with uncertainty, and a worker’s reputation must be continually proven and reinforced for that worker to keep getting called for jobs, in this case, writing appointments.