Friday, 22 March 2013

From record collecting to 'music curating': cultures of discovery and consumption in a 'post-retail' age

Commercial Music Seminar Series 2012 - 13: No 6

Tuesday 9th April 2013

UWS Space, CCA Glasgow, 5.30pm - 7pm

Graham Jeffery
Reader in Music and Performance, UWS

All welcome - to book please contact

My first exposure to the music industry, other than as an occasional public performer, came in the form of a shop-floor job in a celebrated but slightly grubby London specialist classical record store in my year off between school and university. In this talk I will reflect on just how much has changed in how recorded music is bought, sold and consumed since the heady and profitable days of the late eighties, which were arguably a kind of zenith for the record (and CD) industry; these were pre-mass internet days but just at the dawn of the digital revolution that would bring down most of the edifice of 'physical' music retail.  In 1987 Evan Eisenberg published a landmark book, The Recording Angel, which changed the way I (and many others) thought about cultures of collection and consumption of music. He named this field ‘phonography’, and of course since then much has been written in academic work and in fiction about the pleasures and intimacies of ‘crate digging’ and the random musical find, the place of rarity/scarcity in an era of pervasive media, the ‘long tails’  and short wait times of digital sleuthing, and shifts in business models forced by globalization, digitization, peer to peer sharing and fast data transfer. 

What is the future of music consumption, and collecting, now that so much purchasing has migrated online, into the supposedly weightless world of cloud storage? How do we keep and collect our musical treasures? Is the idea of a record shop now an hopeless anachronism or can we see some persistence in the idea of specialism, scarcity and authenticity as a marker of difference within the cultural sphere?


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