I am delighted to announce that I have another conference paper scheduled for next year, this time to be presented at the ‘Pop-Life: The Value of Popular Music in the Twenty First Century’ conference to be held at The University of Northampton, 6th and 7th June 2014.
This paper will examine the language by which notions of value are attributed to popular music within the English quality news press of the twenty first century. Drawing upon extensive critical discourse analysis of a sample of music writing, taken from quality national newspapers across the period 2000 to 2012, the paper examines the role of the national press in shaping and circulating that terminology which provides the basis for commonly used measurements of popular music’s real or imaginary value and use in people’s everyday lives.
By examining reviews of recorded and live popular music, and by taking into account both the objective observations and subjective commentary of their critic authors, the paper unpicks the nature of various derivations of value; for example, value to audiences (whether on an intimate level in relation to individual listeners or to the shared experience of fan collectives), value to the maintenance of a music industry and associated media (as reciprocal and self-fuelling entities) or value to the preservation of artistic tradition (though genre lineages and reference to the musical canon).
Hesmondhalgh has recently argued that music’s value is inherently linked to notions of “commonality, community and solidarity” (2013: 84) and it is with reference to these concepts, and his associated model for considering forms of “public and publicness” (2013: 86) that the discourse analysis results are discussed. Ultimately, the paper will consider the extent to which music writing, and particularly that which enjoys a privileged position within the English quality news press, might both reinforce existing ideas, and forge new frameworks, in relation to the value of popular music in its many forms.