Felix, Joel (2021) DissTraktors: Deconstructing YouTube’s Emergent Diss Culture and its Music, Economic and Cultural Impact within the Platform. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The social media platform YouTube has become central in the consumption of content by the public, outperforming ‘all cable networks in terms of reaching audiences 18–49 years old in the United States’ (The Nielsen Company, in Xiao et al, 2018, p. 188). The platform has allowed for independent artists to make careers from across a wide range of genres, ‘transforming how [the] celebrity is defined’ (Singh, 2016, p. 209). In 2017, YouTube saw an influx of content creators producing music to insult other influencers on the platform despite having little musical background, leaving audiences intrigued and questioning their motives. This paper investigates the trend’s popularity, firstly exploring the history of diss from the early literature of flyting, to more modernized hip hop offshoots on the web 2.0 platform YouTube. This paper highlights three key concepts that form the backbone of the trend: money, music and dramatic materials otherwise known as ‘masquerade’. This paper applies the findings in each of these areas to three tracks by influential online personalities who helped further the trend. Having explored these concepts, an audience view is explored to further contextualise the trend’s rise in popularity. This includes the use of data tools to extract words and sentences from the YouTube comments section, as well as one-to-one interviews with smaller content creators who engaged as audience participants in the trend. With the findings gathered from the main study of the trend and the study into audience reception of the overall culture, a summary of YouTube diss track is formed. These findings indicate that whilst the artists capitalised on marketing techniques that arose from diss track culture such as ‘view loops’, the content of the view loop material in the form of diss tracks is one that probably won’t see as much success as its peak in 2017. Regardless, the investigation into the trend provides a learning opportunity from the content creators and their teams, and one that should be further explored with the changing landscape of online platforms such as YouTube.

Felix THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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