MUSICSTREAM - Music Culture in the Age of Streaming

The European Research Council has awarded Professor David Hesmondhalgh €2.4 million for his project entitled Music Culture in the Age of Streaming.

Hundreds of millions of people across the world now experience music via ‘streaming services’, which offer on-demand access, by means of internet or mobile telephony, to vast catalogues of music, either ‘free’ (advertising-supported) or via subscription.

A controversial but poorly-understood new system of music production, distribution and consumption has developed around such services, yet there has been no sustained, integrated analysis of this system, the considerable international variations within it, nor its effects on musical culture.

MUSICSTREAM provides such analysis, focusing on the UK and China, but also bringing together research from across the world via symposia and collaborative publication. The project therefore offers an ambitious empirical and theoretical analysis that will also contribute to understanding how culture, political economy and technology interact in the digital era. Undertaking such a project requires an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates analysis of the changing media industries, including new conditions for music creators, and changes in the way people ‘use’ music. 

The aim of MUSICSTREAM is to understand how the role of music in the lives of producers and audiences is being reconfigured by developments over which these groups have little or no control. The very nature of music as a cultural practice is changing across the world, and this project examines why and how this is happening, and the implications for the role of music in people’s lives.