Film: Is collaboration changing?

With this year’s Convergence Sessions (Convergence 2016) fast approaching, here is the third of the three films shot at last year’s event, focusing on what people value in collaborators – and how collaboration is changing. The film features Ashley Paul (musician), Bill Brewster (DJ and music writer), Barnaby Steel (visual artist), Cecilia Stalin (vocalist, composer and educator), Will Gulseven (Cypher PR), and Christopher Haworth (researcher). Many thanks to the interviewees!

Film: Is how we acknowledge music’s value changing?

With Convergence 2016 approaching, it seemed like a good moment to post the second of the three films shot at last year’s Convergence Sessions, focusing on how people acknowledge the value of music – and how this is changing. The film features interviews with Bill Brewster (DJ and music writer), Cecilia Stalin (vocalist, composer and educator), Ashley Paul (musician), Barnaby Steel (visual artist), Chris Cooke (journalist), Michelle You (cofounder, Songkick), Eric Karsenty (partnership marketing, EMEA, Sonos), and David Stubbs (music journalist and author). Many thanks to the interviewees!

Public report: Music, Value, and Social Networks in the Digital World

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Although we’ve spent a lot of time writing articles and presenting our work at conferences, the Valuing Electronic Music project was never just about producing a piece of research for academic consumption. Our aim has always been to learn about how music is valued in the age of the internet, and to communicate what we learnt in a form that would be useful to the people most directly affected. The result is our public report. This is a short booklet with everything a musician needs to know about our research. It focuses on our main finding, which is that – even with free digital distribution via websites such as SoundCloud – real-world location remains incredibly important.

Our first peer reviewed article is also available for free download, along with other documents, via the reports page of this website.

Networks of value in electronic music: SoundCloud, London, and the importance of place

The first peer-reviewed journal article arising from the Valuing Electronic Music project has now been published in Cultural Trends as part of a special issue on empirical research into cultural value guest-edited by Dave O’Brien. It focuses on a key finding of the project: even though musicians can now distribute their music for free via the internet, their real-world location remains hugely important. Through qualitative research, we found that electronic musicians in London (a) considered themselves to benefit from being based in that city, and (b) considered a particular part of that city (the highly gentrified, ‘hipsterish’ district of Shoreditch and its immediate surroundings) to be particularly advantageous for less commercial kinds of music. Through quantitative research, we found SoundCloud users based in London to occupy a position at the centre of a network of ‘following’ relationships in which the next best locations appeared to be New York and Los Angeles. Our findings are consistent with the view that the 21st century ‘new media’ produce similar exclusions to the ‘big media’ of the 20th century and do not create anything resembling a level playing field between signed and unsigned artists, provincial and metropolitan scenes, or the developed and the developing world.

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The article is open access so please download the full text to read for yourself.

Allington, D., Dueck, B., and Jordanous, A. (2015). ‘Networks of value in electronic music: SoundCloud, London, and the importance of place’. Cultural Trends 24 (3): pp. 211-222.

Dr Daniel Allington, Dr Anna Jordanous, and Dr Byron Dueck: Online networks and the production of value in electronic music

Our guest post for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value Project blog is now live. It explains why this research is important for an understanding of elitism and arts funding.

Cultural Value Project Blog

This project began with Pierre Bourdieu’s argument that cultural value is a form of belief. Drawing on Marcel Mauss’s work in the anthropology of religions, Bourdieu (1993 [1980]) argued that a painting or a poem is a sort of fetish: that is, a ‘magical’ artefact whose special status derives from the fact that believers hold it to be magical. So, for Bourdieu, cultural production involves not only the production of artefacts, but also the production of belief in the value of those artefacts. It’s easy to see how this would apply to what Bourdieu called the ‘field of large scale production’, i.e. the commercial culture industries: big businesses such as major record labels and Hollywood film studios invest both in the production of what is now called ‘content’ and in advertising and other forms of publicity through which to generate demand for that content. But what most interested Bourdieu was…

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Film 1: Changing roles and relationships in the music industry

This is the first of the three films shot at Convergence 2015, focusing on changing roles and relationships in the music industry. It features interviews with Chris Cooke (journalist), Christopher Haworth (researcher), Eric Karsenty (partnership marketing, EMEA, Sonos), David Stubbs (music journalist and author), Will Gulseven (Cypher PR), Michelle You (cofounder, Songkick), Ben Gomori (DJ and music writer), and Cecilia Stalin (vocalist, composer and educator). As the speakers observe, the internet has created a direct link between stars and their fans, as well as helping grassroots artists to connect to each other. But while this has made it easier for musicians to get their names (and tracks) out there, it may have made it harder for them to get them heard. Watch the full video for thoughts on topics from home recording to artist management.

Coming soon: three short films!

On Thursday, 19 March, a film crew from the Open University – Matt Compton, Jim Hoyland, Holly Tighe, Siobhan Parkinson – and I interviewed speakers and attendees at the Convergence Sessions, three days of discussions and workshops held as part of Convergence 2015 in London.

The crew worked wonders with the images and sound on the day of the shoot and during the editing process. Thanks to everyone who was involved, including Owen Coggins and Daniel Gouly, who observed the discussions in the main room while the film crew was interviewing.

We’ll shortly be posting the three films that emerged from the interview material. I may not be able to comment extensively on them immediately when they go up, but I’ll be putting together a longer post in the near future to give them a little more context.

Valuing electronic music: who’s listening to whom?

Valuing electronic music: who's listening to whom?

Small version of the poster I put together for today’s pop-up research event at the Open University. Node size indicates total number of followers for SoundCloud users based in each city; arrows indicate where those followers come from (so far as we can tell); node colour indicates centrality to the network of these relationships (by eigenvector centrality). If you want more technical details, read last September’s post.

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Slackk live DJ set at the 6 June 2014 event

At 20.15, Slackk took to the decks to provide the night with its musical finale: a 42-minute set featuring tracks by Inkke, Dark0, Shriekin’ and other stars of the instrumental grime scene. It was great to see people dancing at an academic event. Afterwards, he returned to the stage with Winterlight and Glitch Lich for the electronic music producers panel chaired by Luis-Manuel Garcia.

Winterlight performance at the 6 June 2014 live event

The second musical performance of the night was a beautiful live set from Tim Ingham of ambient shoegaze electronica band Winterlight. This followed a generative noise performance from Glitch Lich and a talk on club culture by Luis-Manuel Garcia. As you’ll see from 17:33 to 23:07, Tim used one of Anna’s data visualisations as a backing projection for one of his tracks, giving the audience an opportunity to reflect on the importance of social connections in music. Tim returned to the stage later in the night for the electronic music producers panel with Luis-Manuel Garcia, Chad McKinney (Glitch Lich), and Paul Lynch (Slackk).