Associations for Disruptiveness: The Pirate Bay vs. Spotify

Bjorn Remneland Wikhamn, David Knights


Most studies on disruptive innovations adopt technology-centric assumptions when explaining how industries are affected by a technology’s creative destruction. This paper argues that the power of a technology lies in how it performatively associates with the cultural and social norms of the wider society. Hence, a technology is not disruptive or sustaining in itself but is potentially a productive outcome of network linkages with other social and material elements. To illustrate this claim, two digital music services will be analyzed, respectively a misfit and a maverick both challenging mainstream providers of music – The Pirate Bay and Spotify – in relation to each other and how they are positioned toward the transformation of the music industry as a whole.


Innovation; disruptive technologies; discontinuous innovation; radical innovation; digitalization; translation; Actor Network Theory; music industry; Spotify; The Pirate Bay

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