Professor David Hesmondhalgh


I’m currently leading a five-year research project, funded by a European Research Council Advanced Research Grant, on Music Culture in the Age of Streaming. This will end in November 2026. It includes analysis of streaming in China and case studies of streaming in many other places. 

I did my PhD in the 1990s at Goldsmiths, University of London, on independent record companies and their links with punk, post-punk and rave culture, supervised by Georgina Born. My first full-time teaching and research job was also at Goldsmiths. I worked in the Sociology department at the Open University from 1999 to 2007 where I chaired the production of a major course, Understanding Media, which involved five books and various other distance-learning materials. I've been at Leeds since 2007, and from June 2010 to December 2013 was Head of the Institute of Communications Studies - this was the name of the School of Media and Communication at the time.

Much of my research has been about music. My book, Why Music Matters (published in 2013), was about the ways in which music might enhance people's lives, individually and collectively, and what often stops it from doing so. It has chapters on affect, emotion and human flourishing; love and sex; sociability and place; and commonality and cosmpolitanism. It's been translated into Spanish and Russian. In 2021, I co-authored a book-length report on the earnings of musicians for the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office – links to a downloadable copy can be found below. 

I'm also known for my research on media industries and media production. My book The Cultural Industries (Sage) is an analysis of changes and continuities in television, film, music, publishing and other industries since the 1980s, and of the increasingly important role of digital platforms in these industries. The fourth edition, published in 2019, is a thoroughly revised, updated and expanded version of the third, published in 2012. It's now unrecognisable from the first edition of 2002, and has grown to over 500 pages. It's been translated into various languages, including Chinese, Russian and Italian.

Another widely cited book is Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries, (co-written with Sarah Baker, 2010) which examined work in the contemporary media and cultural industries. The book was based on research funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2006 to 2009. It’s been translated into Korean. 

Culture, Economy and Politics: The Case of New Labour (Palgrave, 2015, co-written with Kate Oakley, David Lee and Melissa Nisbett) was a critical study of the cultural policies of the British 'New Labour' government of 1997 to 2010. It covered the arts, 'creative industries' policies, ‘heritage’, regional cultural development, and various other issues, and was based on research funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council from 2012 to 2014. 

I've also edited various books and a special issue of Popular Communication on 'Race, ethnicity and cultural production', co-edited with Anamik Saha.

I’ve been awarded paid Fellowships/Visiting Scholar positions at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania (2016), Microsoft Research New England (2019) and Aarhus University (2021). 

I was elected a Fellow of the International Communications Association in 2017, and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2021.

I also lead the Cultural and Creative Industries strand of the ESRC Digital Futures at Work Research Centre and have affiliations with the Centre for Employment Research Innovation and Change and the Bauman Institute

Research interests

My research interests include the following, and I welcome PhD enquiries in these and other areas:

  • digital platforms as they relate to media and culture, e.g. music and video streaming services
  • media industries/cultural industries/creative industries
  • all aspects of media and cultural production, contemporary and historical
  • music, society and culture, including popular music
  • social theory and theories of media, and the relations between them, especially with regards to inequality and justice (including dynamics of race, gender, and class)
  • media work, employment, careers etc.
  • media and cultural policy
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA Oxford, MA Northwestern, PhD London

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the British Academy
  • Fellow of the International Communications Association

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>