Pop-Life: The Value of Popular Music in the Twenty First Century

Call for papers
Pop-Life: The Value of Popular Music in the Twenty First Century
University of Northampton
6-7 June 2014

It has increasingly become a truism to suggest that contemporary popular music practice is in a state of flux. Established patterns of consumption, distribution and production have at the very least been revolutionised by the opportunities afforded by digitalisation and the internet. While subcultural identities may have become increasingly adopted by mainstream media, the proliferation of media outlets has contributed to an increasingly varied and cosmopolitan listening experience both in terms of stylistic breadth but also in terms of historical depth. While some commentators have sounded the death-knell of the music industry, others see an opening-up of opportunity for musicians and audiences around the world that may be far more liberating than at any time since the dawn of recorded music.

While much has been, and continues to be, written about the changing topography of popular music around the globe, this conference seeks to understand the variety of ways in which popular music might still be valued. Is it still possible to understand a distinction between the mainstream and any form of alternative? How can a global popular music discourse play a significant role in people’s lives at a local level? How might the macro and micro-industries of popular music shape our listening experience, and above all, of what use is popular music to people’s lives right now?

We invite papers and proposals for panels to discuss these and other issues related to the value of popular music at the start of the twenty-first century. Potential subject areas might be, but are not restricted to:

· The mainstream and possible alternatives
· Music making
· Audiences
· Patterns of consumption
· Music media
· The music industry / industries
· Pop historiography
· Writing about music
· Popular music and community
· Musical subcultures
· Popular music and academia
· Technology and innovation
· Performance
· Popular music and the political realm

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words (for a 20-minute paper) and should be submitted with a short author biography to Nathan.wiseman-trowse@northampton.ac.uk by 30 September 2013. Proposals for dedicated panels will also be considered.