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Professor Keith Negus

Staff details

PositionProfessor of Musicology
Department Music
Email k.negus (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7607
Professor Keith Negus

Keith Negus has written books on Bob Dylan, the music industry (Music Genres and Corporate Cultures) and creativity (Creativity, Communication and Cultural Value), and articles on various topics including musicians on television, globalization, narrative and the popular song, music genres, and cultural intermediaries. He was part of the Open University team that researched and wrote Doing Cultural Studies: The Sony Walkman Story and Production of Culture/ Cultures of Production

He is currently researching ‘Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture’ with John Street and Adam Behr as part of the CREATe programme (more information on 'Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture').

He is working with Pete Astor, researching and writing about songwriting, whilst also co-writing and recording songs as The Fairlight Myth (hear 'Alpha November')

Before joining the Music Department he spent four years in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths. Some time before this he drifted into higher education after a few years spent playing keyboards and guitar in a variety of bands. He gained a first class honours degree in Sociology from Middlesex University and then completed a PhD study of the music industry at South Bank University (published as Producing Pop). He also taught at the Centre for Mass Communication Research, University of Leicester and Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Puerto Rico.

He is a member of the Editorial Group of Popular Music  (Cambridge University Press) and was Coordinating Editor between 2001 and 2013. 

He is co-director of the Popular Music Research Unit and convenor of the MA Music (Popular Music Research).

Academic qualifications

BA, PhD

Areas of supervision

Current PhD students and their fields of study

Emma Winston: Creativity, empowerment and community: the ukulele and expressions of marginalised identity.

Amanda Gillis-Furutaka: Japanese young people and English-langauge music videos 

Featured presentations

Originality, Copying and Copyright: The Paradoxes of Popular Music Creativity, Music Department Colloquia Series, Kings College, University of London, 4 November 2015.

Creative Copying and the Inspiration of Imitation: Copyright and the Challenge of Post-authentic Originality Institute for East Asian Studies Guest Lecture, Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, South Korea, 27 April 2015.

The Semiotic Dialogues of the Popular Song, First International Conference on Numanities, The Role of Humanities in Contemporary Society: Semiotics, Culture, Technologies, International Semiotics Institute, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania, 2-7 June 2014.

Struggling for Fun and Being Cheerful: Reflections on Frithism, Embedded Theory and Popular Music Studies, Studying Music, An International Conference in Honour of Simon Frith, University of Edinburgh, 10-12 April 2014.

Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture: Some Preliminary Findings, Conference on Creativity, Circulation and Copyright: Sonic and Visual Media in the Digital Age, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge, 28-29 March 2014 (presented with Adam Behr and John Street).

Interpreting the Popular Song: Authors, Audiences and Meaning, Institute of Musical Research, Senate House, University of London, 29 April 2013.

Recordings, Risks and Rights – Intermediaries and the Changing Music Industries, Inaugural Edge Hill Music Talk, Edge Hill University, 24 April 2013.

Popular Songs and the Protean Poetics of Songwriters, Music Seminar, School of Arts, University of Surrey, 20 March 2013.

Creativity, Interpretation and the Musical Text: Towards a Sociological Musicology of the Popular Song, Research Seminar, Institut für Musiksoziologie, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, Vienna, Austria, 28 November 2012

Digitalization and the Proliferation of Intermediaries in the Music Industries, International Conference on ‘Intermediaries, Brokers, Gatekeepers and Prescribers: Key Actors of Artistic Creation’, University of Strasbourg, France, 20-22 June 2012.

Popstars, Paupers and Pro-Ams: Musicians and Money in the Digital Music Economy, Popular Music Seminar, University of Oslo, Norway, 22 May 2012.

Making it in the Big City: Small Town Boys, Country Girls and Suburban Dreamers, Experience Music Project Pop Conference, Sounds of the City, Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, New York University, New York City, 22-25 March 2012.

Research Interests

Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture

Keith Negus in collaboration with Professor John Street, University of East Anglia and Dr Adam Behr, University of East Anglia.

Musicians are at the forefront of discussion around revenue loss due to copying in the music industry, yet often neglected in existing studies which focus on corporate perspectives or audience activities. This research project is investigating how the notion of original ideas and rights of access (and hence copyright) are negotiated by practicing musicians. The focus is on how musicians regard copying for both circulation and creative practice - duplicating without permission in order to circulate free copies or bootlegs; and appropriating, reusing, sampling and imitating as a way of creating new tracks and songs. The research is asking how musicians stand in relation to commercial, artistic and legal questions of originality, influence and fraud. The project examines how music is valued culturally and economically, exploring how ideas about originality are shaped by definitions of ownership and intellectual property regulations.

Lyrics, Songs and Songwriters

Keith Negus with Pete Astor, University of Westminster.

This research emerged from a series of conversations about song lyrics, and our sense of frustration that the scholarly literature on lyrics tends to neglect the work of songwriters and the practices of songwriting. Our aim is to contribute to the study of song work, exploring the importance of musical and verbal structures as one way of challenging the pervasive emphasis on lyrics as semantic statements and poetic expression, and music as melodic contour or memorable tune. Lyrics, melodies, rhythms are important – but not always in the ways implied by theories of meaning, songwriting handbooks and descriptions of listening. Our research also aims to complement and to counter approaches to the popular song which emphasise performance (the claim that a song only exists as it is realised in particular renditions), and those that focus on apparently definitive recordings or notated sheet music. 

The proliferation of intermediaries in the music industry

This research engages with debates about intermediation and risk by examining how the new millennium has seen a proliferation of intermediaries working within, across and out from the music industries, and a variety of new working practices and relationships in response to changes in music commerce brought about by digitalisation. As the importance of rights revenue has increased, older risks and uncertainties about musicians and their listeners have been reconfigured, compounded by the inability of music companies to understand the cultural and economic consequences of digitalisation. The research is examining how music companies have been devolving responsibility for risk, and exploring the ways that nation state and civic intermediaries have been intervening in music production. 

Publications

Book

Producing Pop: Culture and Conflict in the Popular Music Industry
Negus, Keith. 2011. Producing Pop: Culture and Conflict in the Popular Music Industry. London: out of print.

Bob Dylan
Negus, Keith. 2008. Bob Dylan. London: Equinox London. ISBN 13 978 1 904768 25 8

Creativity, Communication & Cultural Value
Pickering, M. and Negus, Keith. 2004. Creativity, Communication & Cultural Value. Sage. ISBN 0761970754

Music Genres and Corporate Cultures
Negus, Keith. 1999. Music Genres and Corporate Cultures. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-17399-X

Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman
Negus, Keith; Du Gay, Paul; Hall, Stuart; Janes, Linda and Mackay, Hugh. 1997. Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. London: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-5402-3

Book Section

More Than a Performance: Song Lyrics and the Practices of Songwriting
Negus, Keith and Astor, Pete. 2014. More Than a Performance: Song Lyrics and the Practices of Songwriting. In: Lee Marshall and Dave Laing, eds. Popular Music Matters, Essays In Honour of Simon Frith. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 195-208. ISBN 9781472421791

Creativity, Communication and Musical Experience
Negus, Keith and Pickering, Michael. 2002. Creativity, Communication and Musical Experience. In: Keith Negus and David Hesmondhalgh, eds. Popular Music Studies. London: Arnold, pp. 178-190. ISBN 0 340 76248 9

Globalization and the Music of the Public Spheres
Negus, Keith. 1996. Globalization and the Music of the Public Spheres. In: Sandra Braman and Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi, eds. Globalisation, Communication and Transnational Civil Society. Cresskill, New Jersey: Hampton Press, pp. 179-195. ISBN 1-57273-020-X

Article

The South Korean Music Industry: A Literature Review
Negus, Keith. 2015. The South Korean Music Industry: A Literature Review. CREATe Working Paper Series,

Songwriters and song lyrics: architecture, ambiguity and repetition
Negus, Keith and Astor, Pete. 2015. Songwriters and song lyrics: architecture, ambiguity and repetition. Popular Music, 34(2), pp. 226-244. ISSN 0261-1430

Digital divisions and the changing cultures of the music industries (or, the ironies of the artefact and invisibility)
Negus, Keith. 2015. Digital divisions and the changing cultures of the music industries (or, the ironies of the artefact and invisibility). Journal of Business Anthropology, 4(1), pp. 151-157.

Recordings, Rights and Risks: Intermediaries and the Changing Music Industries
Negus, Keith. 2014. Recordings, Rights and Risks: Intermediaries and the Changing Music Industries. Civilisations: Revue Internationale D’Anthropologie et de Sciences Humaines(13), pp. 113-136.

Narrative Time and the Popular Song
Negus, Keith. 2012. Narrative Time and the Popular Song. Popular Music and Society, 35(4), pp. 483-500. ISSN 0300-7766

Narrative, Interpretation and the Popular Song
Negus, Keith. 2012. Narrative, Interpretation and the Popular Song. Musical Quarterly, 95(2-3), pp. 368-395. ISSN 1741-8399

Authorship and the Popular Song
Negus, Keith. 2011. Authorship and the Popular Song. Music and Letters, 92(4), pp. 607-629. ISSN 0027-4224

Bob Dylan's Phonographic Imagination
Negus, Keith. 2010. Bob Dylan's Phonographic Imagination. Popular Music, 29(2), pp. 213-228. ISSN 0261-1430

Living, Breathing Songs: Singing Along With Bob Dylan
Negus, Keith. 2007. Living, Breathing Songs: Singing Along With Bob Dylan. Oral Tradition, 22(1), pp. 71-83. ISSN 0883-5365

Musicians on Television: Visible, Audible and Ignored
Negus, Keith. 2006. Musicians on Television: Visible, Audible and Ignored. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 131(2), pp. 310-330. ISSN 02690403

Belonging and detachment - musical experience and the limits of identity
Negus, Keith. 2002. Belonging and detachment - musical experience and the limits of identity. Poetics, Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts, 30(1-2), pp. 133-145. ISSN 00484571

The Work of Cultural Intermediaries and the Enduring Distance between Production and Consumption
Negus, Keith. 2002. The Work of Cultural Intermediaries and the Enduring Distance between Production and Consumption. Cultural Studies, 16(4), pp. 501-515. ISSN 09502386