About Daniel Allington

Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at UWE Bristol.

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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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).

VEM at MeCCSA 2015

I’ll be speaking on the team’s behalf at the 2015 conference of the Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies Association next week. My paper is entitled ‘The valuing of electronic music’, and will form part of the ‘Music and affect’ panel from 16.45-18.15 on 7 January 2015. This follows Anna’s presentation at the 5th International Conference on Computational Creativity, Byron’s presentation at the British Forum for Ethnomusicology 2014 one-day conference, Anna and Byron’s presentation at the 9th Digital Music Research Network workshop, Byron’s and my contribution to the Open University Digital Humanities Seminar Series (which was video recorded and will be uploaded to the web shortly), and my presentation to the Creative Data Club, as well as a few other presentations in private contexts – and of course the live event. It’s been really great to feel the level of interest in this research, both within and beyond the ivory prison cell.

Glitch Lich performance at the 6 June 2014 live event

Those that were able to attend our live event on 6 June 2014 will doubtless remember the astonishing opening performance from Glitch Lich, with Chad McKinney onstage in London and Cole Ingraham joining remotely from Shanghai. The video is now available to view online. If you want to catch Chad in conversation with other electronic music producers and leading electronic music researcher Luis-Manuel Garcia, you can also check out the video of the panel that took place on the same night.

Slackk, Winterlight, Glitch Lich: Electronic Music Producers Panel

The highlight of the live event we ran in London on 6 June this year was the panel discussion between grime producer Paul Lynch (Slackk), ambient producer Tim Ingham (Winterlight), generative noise musician Chad McKinney (Glitch Lich), and ethnomusicologist Luis-Manuel Garcia (click here for Luis’s fascinating talk on club culture, from earlier in the night). After the event wound up, we headed off to Boxed, Slackk’s regular clubnight in Dalston, headlined on that particular occasion by the incredible Spooky Bizzle.

In common with the other talks and performances of the night, the panel was video-recorded; scroll down for a transcript.

Also available from the Open University podcast site.

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Valuing Electronic Music, Online and Off

Date: 26 November 2014

Time: 1.00pm-3.00pm

Venue: Arts Music Studio, The Open University Walton Hall, Milton Keynes
Directions: http://oudigitalhumanities.wordpress.com/2014-seminars/directions-to-arts-music-studio/

Speakers:
Daniel Allington (Department of Applied Linguistics and English Language, Open University)
Byron Dueck (Department of Music, Open University);
Anna Jordanous (School of Computing, University of Kent)

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