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

[Cross-posted from http://valuingelectronicmusic.org/2015/08/21/networks-of-value-in-electronic-music/]

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.

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Casey got her job back last year (and other old news)

I haven’t had time to work on this blog for a long time. In the meantime, various things have happened. Here are three of them:

The list could (and probably should) go on, even if limited (as per usual for this blog) to non-personal issues. But I still haven’t got time.

That said, it’s good to be posting again. And to have a new theme for the website.

See you around.

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Reinstate Casey Brienza!

My friend Casey Brienza has been dismissed from her post at City University, London. So she must have done something bad, right? Actually, no. Isn’t that an ‘unfair dismissal’? It is indeed – but thanks to a change in the law made by the coalition government, it is no longer possible (except under certain very limited circumstances) to bring a case for unfair dismissal to tribunal for an employee with less than 24 months’ service, which means that if you have – like Casey – been with your employer for under two years, your employment rights are effectively nil.

Casey’s a great scholar and a great teacher, and she has the support of almost all her departmental colleagues. If you don’t think that what’s happening to her is okay, sign the petition.

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Forthcoming event (6 June): ‘Valuing Electronic Music’

Upstairs at The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Rd, London N1 9JB

6 June 2014
4.30-10pm
Admission free

Valuing Electronic Music is an ongoing study of electronic music and the people who value it, carried out by Daniel Allington (Open University), Anna Jordanous (King’s College, London), and Byron Dueck (Open University). Our work explores how the value of electronic music transcends economic value for producers, DJs, and audiences – and how geographical location continues to play a significant role in the recognition of musical value even where musical scenes become increasingly international (thanks in large part to websites such as SoundCloud). Such findings have implications for the careers of music-makers more generally.

On 6 June, we are holding a public event at The Lexington in Angel, Islington, featuring talks, live performances, and an interactive panel discussion with electronic music producers. Come along to find out what we and other researchers have discovered, as well as to hear some great music and to put your own questions to the people who make it. You are welcome to drop in at any time.

4.30 Doors open
5.00 Free food
5.30 Introduction
5.45 Music: Glitch Lich
6.30 Talk: Luis-Manuel Garcia
7.00 Music: Winterlight
7.45 Talk: Daniel Allington, Anna Jordanous, Byron Dueck
8.15 Music: Slackk
9.00 Panel: Chad McKinney (Glitch Lich), Tim Ingham (Winterlight), Paul Lynch (Slackk)
9.30 Thanks

The Valuing Electronic Music project combines social network analysis of online data with ethnographic interviewing and observation to understand how music-makers produce value for their own and one another’s work, especially in genres without mainstream recognition. It is currently supported by an AHRC Research Development Grant. For more information, visit our webpage at http://www.open.ac.uk/vem/

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A year in the academic blogosphere

I published my first piece to this blog twelve months ago to the minute. Has it really been that long? Yes, it has really been that long. And what have I learnt? What I have learnt is that the use for which I intended this website is not perhaps the use to which a website is best put. This is how I expressed myself in my very first post (just this once, I’ll dispense with a full bibliographic reference):
Continue reading “A year in the academic blogosphere”

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Announcement: ‘Online networks and the production of value in electronic music’

Investigators: Daniel Allington (Open University), Anna Jordanous (King’s College London), Byron Dueck (Open University)
Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council [1]
Duration: 3 Feb to 31 July 2014

Cultural value is one of those areas in which (as the saying goes) perceptions are also realities. Thus, sociologists have argued that the production of cultural value is actually the production of a form of belief. Although popular accounts of how art gets made tend to focus on brilliant individual creators, research has highlighted over and over again that their work typically emerges from a creative milieu, in which value (or belief in value) comes into existence. This highlights the complex relationship between professional, semi-professional, and amateur cultural production, and may explain why so many cultural producers create work primarily for appreciation by their peers.

Continue reading “Announcement: ‘Online networks and the production of value in electronic music’”

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Social networks and the production of cultural value: forthcoming from Poetics at last

Well, at last it seems that my article on using social network analysis to study the production of cultural value is going to appear in Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media, and the Arts. The peer review process took a while, but it has been exceptionally useful and constructive. I’ve got a couple of last tweaks to apply, and I’ve got no idea when the thing will actually see print, but forthcoming it is, and I cannot tell you how good that feels. (And by the way: yes, Poetics is an Elsevier publication. It also happens to be a truly outstanding journal whose articles have for years played a huge part in my intellectual development. If you want to know why I am not going to feel guilty about publishing in one of my absolute favourite journals, read here and here. If you’ve got no idea why some people might have a problem with that, congratulations.)

Continue reading “Social networks and the production of cultural value: forthcoming from Poetics at last”

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Forthcoming symposium: ‘Placing cultural work: (new) intersections of location, craft, and creativity’

Time, date, location

The Open University, Hawley Crescent, Camden Campus, London, NW1

Friday November 15, 2013

9.00am-4.30pm
Continue reading “Forthcoming symposium: ‘Placing cultural work: (new) intersections of location, craft, and creativity’”

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Forthcoming seminar: ‘Network analytic approaches to the production and propagation of literary and artistic value’

I’ve just received details of my forthcoming seminar, ‘Network analytic approaches to the production and propagation of literary and artistic value’, at the Centre for e-Research (CeRch) at King’s College London. It will take place at 6.15pm on Tuesday 1 October in the Anatomy Museum Space on the 6th floor of the King’s Building at the main KCL campus on the Strand. As you can see from the abstract, the focus will be on methodology and its theoretical implications (my approach emerges from Bourdieu’s sociology but employs social network analysis: two things that are often assumed to be in opposition). However, I’ll be illustrating everything with details from my empirical research on interactive fiction and a couple of other ongoing projects where I also look at relationships between cultural producers (early 20th century authors probably; contemporary visual artists possibly; maybe also something on electronic musicians). I may find time to talk about the specific digital tools that I’ve been using (for those who care about such things: Python 2.7, NetworkX, PyGraphviz).

Continue reading “Forthcoming seminar: ‘Network analytic approaches to the production and propagation of literary and artistic value’”

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