Recombination for innovation and market impact: Samples and features in hip hop music
Mueller, B. (2022). "Recombination for Innovation and Market Impact: Samples and Features in Hip Hop Music." Journal of Evolutionary Economics. Vol. 32 Issue 1.
Posted: 27 Jun 2019 Last revised: 19 May 2022
Date Written: May 5, 2022
IInnovation and new ideas often arise in contexts that are more conducive to the recombination of existing knowledge. I use data from hip hop chart rankings and YouTube video views to uncover patterns of this recombination and measure their impact in a cultural setting. This genre of music is used because, more than others, it has the custom of explicitly featuring guest artists and samples of existing songs. These processes provide a quantifiable measure of the extent of recombination of existing knowledge in the new songs’ creative process. I find that songs that more explicitly rely on recombination have greater impact. The results suggest that the more successful songs include not just novelty, but novelty together with elements of conventionality. This is in line with other analyses of innovation and impact in other creative industries. The propensity for recombinant strategies to uncover valuable innovation depends on the geographic, institutional, cultural and network structures where this search takes place. Hip hop music, through its explicit use of features and samples, illustrates some characteristics of successful recombinant innovation that can be extended to other genres and creative industries.
Keywords: innovation, culture, cultural evolution, music, Hip Hop
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