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Rock versus pop: symbolic disputes at Rock in Rio music festival

Isabella Oliveira Medeiros (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Brazil)
Simone Evangelista (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Brazil)
Simone Pereira de Sá (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Brazil)

Arts and the Market

ISSN: 2056-4945

Article publication date: 30 April 2021

Issue publication date: 1 September 2021




The paper aims to discuss the tensions between rock and pop genres at Rock in Rio, the most significant music festival in Brazil (which also has had international editions in Portugal, Spain and the USA), analyzing the construction and consolidation of Rock in Rio as a rock-related brand and mapping the disputes, negotiations and controversies between rock and pop music fans.


The authors analyze those facts from a framework composed by discussions about musical genres (Frith, 1996; Blacking, 1995), social constructions about rock and pop, as well as debates about taste as performance (Hennion, 2007) on digital platforms. The corpus consists of 58 posts published between 2018 and 2019 in the period prior to Rock in Rio 2019, analyzed qualitatively.


By recalling the history of Rock in Rio, the authors demonstrate that the discourses and strategies involving the festival are contradictory, which reflects on disputes about the meanings of festivals on social media. A diverse set of controversy was found, such as discussions about the artists' authenticity as well as arguments that refer to the social constructions linked to certain musical genres.


The paper analyzes the Rock in Rio music festival from a perspective that is not observed very often, offering insights about the relevance of music genres as mediators of the perception of the festival as a brand and the controversies involving fans and anti-fans.



This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001 and by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – Brasil (CNPq).


Oliveira Medeiros, I., Evangelista, S. and Pereira de Sá, S. (2021), "Rock versus pop: symbolic disputes at Rock in Rio music festival", Arts and the Market, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 136-146.



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