New research to help boost regional music making
A Staffordshire University lecturer has been awarded a prestigious grant to research North West England’s music industry.
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography Dr Allan Watson has received a £3,000 grant from the Royal Geographical Society for the project and hopes to eventually present his findings to the DCMS - The Department of Culture, Media and Sport - to encourage more support for regional record labels, recording studios and live music venues.
“The music business is dominated by London, but it is important get a better understanding of what’s going on in the rest of the UK” said Allan.
Over the next year Allan will interview record companies throughout Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire to find out more about how they work.
He will examine if their business and clients generally come from the local region or further afield, and the issues for small regional companies in surviving outside of the London hub of the industry. Work has already begun on documenting how many companies are in the region.
“There’s always been a thriving music scene in places like Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield, but so often bands that start off in regional cities end up signing to a London label when they make it big.”
Allan sees this research as an important opportunity to identify the opportunities and challenges in maintaining a successful regional music industry in North West England.
“Regional indie labels have long been adopting strategies for challenging the dominance of the London-based large corporations, such as setting up independent distribution networks. But I think much more can be done to support our regional music industries.”
He added: “Recently we have seen the move of the BBC to Manchester as part of the rebalancing of cultural production away from London and back in favour of the regions. The music industry is similarly unbalanced. When the government adopts cultural policy, other regions need to be taken more seriously.”
The research follows on from Allan’s book Cultural Production in and Beyond the Recording Studio, published last year, which revealed the high number of studio closures and the difficulties of working and making a living in the business.
“The landscape of the music industry is constantly changing. The way we listen to music and the way we buy it has changed drastically over the past 20 years, and continues to change today, so artists and labels are constantly trying to keep pace. This makes research such as this even more important.”
Allan’s research begins in July and will last for 12 months.
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