So I think that studying the music industry is very important and very now. I’m sometimes asked what I can recommend to back this claim up, so below are 20 recent books and other bits of writing that were all more or less published in the last year or so. I’ve organised them around three main topics:
– the politics and economics of new technologies and business models
– economic markets and creative work
– narrating the industry – representation, image-management, rhetoric
Within these topics I’ve not distinguished between books for the academic sector, for public readership, websites, policy reports and so on – this is deliberate. I think each should be taken on its own terms and read (critically) against the others, so that more productive dialogues between traditionally distinct industries and markets might start to emerge. Some books may not be rigorously referenced but they can nonetheless present new perspectives and unheard voices; academic writing is not tailored for the needs of industry or everyday reading (and often runs the risk of being dry) but this distance can produce insights that reach a little further and deeper as a result.
At the bottom are some forthcoming books to keep an eye out for. It’s a necessarily idiosyncratic list, and I don’t endorse everything on it, but it’s a useful collection I hope.
On the political economy of digital music:
– Chris Anderton, Andrew Dubber, Martin James, Understanding the Music Industries
An undergraduate/initiate’s entry to grappling with the complexities of the modern industry’s greater focus on content-management alongside retail consumption
– Tim Anderson, Popular Music in a Digital Economy: Problems and Practices for an Emerging Service Industry
The music industry as a state of perpetual ‘becoming’ as it moves from (ownership-based) product retail to (access-based) service industry
– Jim Rogers, The Death and Life of the Music Industry in the Digital Age
Challenges the dominance of the ‘rise and fall’ narrative of the music industry, suggesting that existing power structures have been consolidated rather than dismantled.
– Jeremy Silver, Digital Medieval: The first twenty years of music on the web… and the next twenty
A digital music consultant’s argument for more fluidity between music and cross-media platforms
– Jonas Andersson Schwarz, Online File Sharing: Innovations in Media Consumption
Important examination of the attitudes and justifications of Scandinavian file-sharers
– Don Passman, All You Need To Know About the Music Business (8th ed.)
I always recommend this book when people ask me about introductory texts; it is now twenty years old but the fact that it has had so many updates is telling – this new edition came out last year
– London School of Economics – MPP, Copyright & Creation (Media Policy brief)
A masterclass in how academics can take important debates that could usefully flesh out a dialogue that’s already being had in the public sphere – and then killing that opportunity with hollow argument and needless antagonism
– International Journal of Music Business Research
Launched in 2012 with interesting people on board, two further issues appeared last year – it’s an interesting experiment in potentially crossing commercial and academic interests.
– David Beer, Popular Culture and New Media: The Politics of Circulation
Cheating, as this isn’t strictly about music, but it’s as relevant as it can get without being so
On music markets and creative work:
– Lee Marshall (ed.), The International Recording Industries
A closer look at emerging music markets…
– IFPI – Engine of a Digital World
…and the industry body’s official perspective on the same
– Nick Wilson, The Art of Re-enchantment: Making Early Music in the Modern Age
Historical case study of the emergence of a now well-established market – the early music movement in classical performance – from the perspective of its entrepreneur-artists
– Matt Stahl, Unfree Masters: Recording Artists and the Politics of Work
Recording artists as workers or as property owners? Placing the argument within a broader social context of contemporary US labour markets
– Mark Banks, Ros Gill, Steph Taylor (eds.), Theorizing Cultural Work: Labour, continuity and change in the cultural and creative industries
Cheating again. Not a proper music book, but lots of important chapters in this regarding creative industries in relation to their history, their literature, intellectual property, and so on
On criticism and narrating the industry:
– Devon Powers, The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism
Important questions being asked about the industry’s relationship to its media commentary (should be read alongside Powers’ other articles on criticism, ‘hype’, and ‘company freaks’)
– Kristin Lieb, Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry: The Social Construction of Female Popular Music Stars
I’ve not read this one but it’s a timeless theme in a significant historical moment. Old school cultural studies meets the star system – I hope it’s not as clunky as it clearly has the possibility of being
– Tim Wall, ‘The X Factor’ [in Pete Bennett and Julian McDougall (eds.), Barthes’ Mythologies Today: Readings of Contemporary Culture]
A chapter – but significant that SyCo’s iconic brand is considered one of today’s most telling mythical signifiers (also an acknowledgement of how important I think Barthes is to these discussions…!)
– Morrissey, Autobiography
The one man myth-machine narrates himself,
– Bob Stanley, Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop
And further commentary on the meaning of popular music from the perspective of an artist and connoisseur.
– Dave Hesmondhalgh, Why Music Matters
The social significance of music’s emotional ties, from a key voice in creative industries scholarship. Resemblance to the BPI’s awareness campaign is coincidental, so I am told, but not inconsequentially so, I don’t think.
– Toby Bennett, The Libidinal Economy of Music Videos
Had to get a plug for myself in here somewhere too, of course…
Forthcoming in 2014:
– Mark Mulligan, Meltdown: The Music Industry in a Digital Age
Respected music industry consultant’s perspective on what digital means and where it’s going
– Martin Cloonan, Shane Homan, Jennifer Cattermole – Popular Music Industries and the State
A global policy perspective on music’s social value based on three national case studies
– Simon Napier-Bell – Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay
The manager-author delivers another volume of his industry experiences – this time mapped against his own history of the industry
– Sumanth Gopinath and Jason Stanyek (eds.) – The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies: Volume 1 & Volume 2
Everyone knows that music is mobile now – the academic voices here are key in working out what this means in terms that are not strictly technical or economic, and how music might be experienced in a different way as a result.
– Timothy D Taylor – New Capitalism, Music and Social Theory
After studies of sync licensing and advertising, this could be an interesting entry into developing a field of music industry studies.