When does deviance from the norm propel a career or stop it in its tracks? Call it law-breaking or call it creative license, in creative industries and occupations, intellectual property concerns can make or break reputations, careers, and companies. Ask the creators themselves whether something is deviant, illegal, or illegitimate and the answers aren’t simply yes or no, they’re varying shades of grey. In the electronic dance music community, for one, the enforcement of certain norms and legalities around intellectual property isn’t always up to the law—it’s up to the community.
In their recent research paper "Deviance as a Means to Build a Legitimate Career: Evidence from the EDM Industry,” Desautels professor Amandine Ody-Brasier and her co-author, Copenhagen Business School professor Xu Li, discovered that within the electronic dance music (EDM) community, norms around unlawful activities such as illegal remixes are loose and often garner support, even career-launching acclaim—despite EDM’s global nature and each country having its own intellectual property laws.
“What you consider deviant in one community may not be viewed as deviant in another community; it is in the eye of the beholder,” explains Ody-Brasier. The exact same behaviors could be labeled differently. Her research asks how norms—appropriate behaviors shared by community members—affect careers and other economic outcomes in creative occupations.
“It doesn't make a lot of sense that you would be able to launch a career on an illegal product,” adds Ody-Brasier, who decided to figure out why, in fact, it did make sense in the EDM community. Listen to the Delve podcast for more insights into why deviance and illegal activity in a creative community is often supported.
Founded in 2019, Delve is the official thought leadership publication of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management. Under the direction of Professor Saku Mantere, inaugural Editor-in-Chief, Delve features the latest in management thinking that stretches perspectives, sparks new ideas, and brings clarity to decision-makers at all levels and across sectors.