I was born on Steve Reich’s 49th birthday, while David Bowie and Mick Jagger were riding high in the UK hit parade. Neither of these facts is all that significant.
I grew up in Chelmsford (Birthplace of Radio) and, at 16, was in a band that held the dubious distinction of being the only act to have ever been switched off at former local punk venue The Army & Navy. My musical education at this time was almost entirely thanks to Napster, Kazaa, Limewire and Soulseek and a 28.8kbps modem (and for this I am only partially apologetic – it was different times, guv!), making me a “digital native”, I guess, and perhaps also a “millennial”. For similar reasons, I decided playing in bands was a mug’s game and spent most of my spare time making glitchy bedroom computer music. At 18 I went to study music at City university to counter my suspicion that if I didn’t, I’d only get distracted by music anyway – and then distracted myself from that by trying (and generally failing) to promote alternative music events around London and Essex, putting on people like Beardyman, Scroobius Pip, and Ceephax Acid Crew, to rooms full of unenthused CAMRA regulars.
In 2007, I started a job at Universal Music Group, in their Licensing department, putting together compilations (like this), boxsets (like this), and reissues (like this), and making sure everyone got paid at the end of it, entirely ignoring Morrissey’s acidic admonishment of record companies who ‘Reissue, repackage, double-pack with a photograph‘. I was getting too much sleep, so I decided to spend my evenings doing a Masters degree part time at Birkbeck while working full time at UMG. Around this time I lost enthusiasm for making music and found it again writing reviews. Trying to make sense of this biographical mess led me to pursue a PhD, researching contemporary work inside UK major labels.
I’m interested in how working in creative industries might be different from other forms of work, and whether or not it should be considered something of a model in this respect – I’m fascinated by what this means in a world of digital technologies and economic crisis and especially with regards to evolving policies and structures of the “knowledge economy”. I think music is a particularly valuable case study here and I also think the philosopher Bernard Stiegler could have interesting things to say about it. Meanwhile, I teach a bit and am engaged in various collaborative projects exploring areas I think are especially pertinent to the “new” music industry like education and skills, digital tech and live music, and policy-making.
If you’re still reading, then you’ll be delighted to discover more opportunities to keep up with my activities (including social media bits and pieces) here.