Severn Pop Network inaugural conference: The small economies of the 'new' music industry

SPN conference poster

About the conference

The music industry is in a well-publicised state of upheaval. The emergence of digital reproductive technologies (such as CD burners and MP3s), of digital distribution and consumption technologies (such as the iPod, iTunes and Spotify), and of new social media (such as Myspace and Facebook) have radically disturbed established systems of production and consumption. The benefits of these changes have fallen unequally and most cultural commentary has focused on the problems caused to the global record industry. However, one of the distinctive features of the music industry is the continuity between localised ‘para-industrial acts’ and mainstream commercial practices. The importance of geographic and genre-based scenes means that small music economies have a greater significance for the structural organisation of the music industry than in other cultural industries: 'in the music industry... the small is as significant as the big' (Frith, 2000).

This conference focuses on the small-scale commercial practices developing in the ‘new’ music industry, paying particular attention to local economies and ‘direct’ interactions between musicians and fans. While research exists on how declining record sales may be affecting the major industry, how (if at all) are they impacting musicians at a more local level? Is declining record income relevant or is it being offset by falling costs of recording and distribution? Are the disintermediating technologies of the internet offering greater opportunities for ‘monetising’ musical activities? How are musicians, managers, labels, promoters and fans adapting to the new circumstances? How are the relationships between these key players changing?

Conference date

25 March 2013


Conference programme (Pdf, 500kb).


In an attempt to make registration costs as low as possible, we have been able to gain some funding from BIRTHA to subsidise some of the organising costs. Registration for the conference is thus only £12. This fee includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day. However, places at the event are extremely limited and you are advised to register as soon as possible.

Registration is now closed.

Travel and accommodation

The conference will be held at the Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol. A map of the venue is available and also directions for how to get to Bristol.

The conference organisers are not arranging specific accommodation for visitors but the University offers some advice on local accommodation. Also, the Premier Inn in the centre of Bristol often has cheap deals. It is about a 15-20 minute walk to the venue

About the Severn Pop Network

The Severn Pop Network is an academic network of scholars interested in popular music and based at several universities spanning the river Severn. We meet approximately four times each year for paper presentations and reading group discussions. If you would like to find out more about the network, please contact

The conference has been organised locally by Justin Williams (Music) and Lee Marshall (Sociology) of the University of Bristol.