Keith Negus has written books on Bob Dylan, the music industry (Music Genres and Corporate Cultures, Producing Pop) and creativity (Creativity, Communication and Cultural Value), and articles on various topics including musicians on television, globalization, narrative, music genres, cultural intermediaries, and live music. 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.
Between 2013 and 2015, he completed research on ‘Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture’ with John Street and Adam Behr as part of the UKRI CREATe programme. [can we move the link here]
He is conducting ongoing research on popular music and the music industries of East Asia, and has collaborated with Dr. Hyunjoon Shin, Sungkonghoe University, and Dr. Qian Zhang, Communication University of China (articles available here and here).
Before joining the Music Department, he spent four years in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths. Much earlier he drifted into higher education after a few years spent playing keyboards and guitar in a variety of bands. He gained a degree in Sociology from Middlesex University and completed a PhD study of the recording 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 collaborated with Pete Astor (The Loft, Weather Prophets) in writing and producing ‘Love Repeats’/ ‘Alpha November’ (wiaiwya, 2015) as the Fairlight Myth.
He is a member of the Editorial Group of Popular Music (Cambridge University Press) and was Coordinating Editor between 2001 and 2013.
Areas of supervision
Current PhD students and their fields of study
Emma Winston: A Contemporary Ethnography of Hidden Ukulele Musicians in Britain: Creativities, Communities, and Identities.
Ben Assiter: Electronic dance music culture in London and the space-time economy of the night.
Pete Gofton: Vinyl and the post-digital music industry
Christopher Hanby: The Revitalisation of the Endangered Language of Jèrriais: A study of music, language ideology, and cultural identity in Jersey.
Laurence Saywood: Enduring Victorianism: Rethinking Pop Music, Working-Class Culture and the Long 1960s.
Keith’s research engages with all aspects of the creation and production, circulation and performance, reception and uses of popular music. Recent research is concentrated in two broad areas.
The changing international music industries
He is currently focusing on the changing live and recorded music industries of East Asia, with particular attention to streaming, building upon two distinct strands of earlier research. First, studies of the music industries in the UK, Europe and USA that have been conducted over a period of about 30 years (available here). Recent research has explored how the music business has experienced and dealt with a shift from the manufacture of physical artefacts (the record, the product), to a model of streamed access to content, the economies of live music after digitalisation, and the tensions between nation states and major corporations.
The second strand of research encompasses studies of cultural production in and out from East Asia. This traces back to a study of the global strategies developed by Japanese tech companies when acquiring record labels and film studios during the late 1980s/ early 1990s, through to an overview of research on the Korean music industry, and a more detailed study of ‘data fans’ in China, co-authored with Dr Qian Zhang.
Creativity and the popular music imagination
Another area of Keith’s research has addressed debates about the creativity of popular musicians, exploring the way songs convey stories and become part of broader social narratives, and engaging with debates about authorship. He has published detailed studies of Bob Dylan’s musicianship and songwriting, and unique approach to recording and studio production. Writings and research with Pete Astor have explored the varied ways that lyrics work as sound, meaning, and architecture in songs, and how rock musicians engage with the experience, value and controversies about authenticity. Research with Dr. Adrian Sledmere has been drawing on psychogeography to explore how music is created in specific places, with particular attention to the formation of Wham! in and across suburban London and Hertfordshire during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Publications and research outputs
Negus, Keith. 2011. Producing Pop: Culture and Conflict in the Popular Music Industry. London: Edward Arnold. ISBN 0340575123
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
Negus, Keith. 2021. The Singles: A Playlist for Framing Dylan's Recording Art. In: Sean Latham, ed. The World of Bob Dylan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 46-57. ISBN 9781108499514
Negus, Keith. 2017. The gendered narratives of nobodies and somebodies in the popular music economy. In: Stan Hawkins, ed. Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music and Gender. UK/ USA: Taylor Francis/ Routledge, pp. 152-165. ISBN 978-1-472-45683-0
Negus, Keith. 2015. Philip Tagg and the semiotic dialogues of the popular song. In: Audrone Daubariene and Dario Martinelli, eds. The Role of Humanities in Contemporary Society: Semiotics, Culture, Technologies. Kaunas, Lithuania: Kaunas University of Technology, pp. 125-132. ISBN 978-609-02-1139-7
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
Negus, Keith. 2010. The symbolic and material presence of music in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In: Paul Attinello; Janet Halfyard and Vanessa Knights, eds. Music, Sound, and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Farnham: Ashgate, xv-xviii. ISBN 978-0-7546-6041-5
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
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
Negus, Keith and Sledmere, Adrian. 2022. Postcolonial paths of pop: a suburban psychogeography of George Michael and Wham! Popular Music, 41(2), pp. 131-151. ISSN 0261-1430
Negus, Keith and Astor, Pete. 2021. Authenticity, empathy, and the creative imagination. Rock Music Studies, ISSN 1940-1159
Negus, Keith. 2021. Perspectives on cultural economy: personal, institutional, historical. Journal of Cultural Economy, ISSN 1753-0350
Negus, Keith and Shin, Hyunjoon. 2021. Eurasian entanglements: notes towards a planetary perspective of popular music histories. Popular Music, 40(1), 158 -164. ISSN 0261-1430
Zhang, Qian and Negus, Keith. 2021. Stages, platforms, streams: the economies and industries of live music after digitalization. Popular Music and Society, 44(5), pp. 539-557. ISSN 0300-7766
Zhang, Qian and Negus, Keith. 2020. East Asian pop music idol production and the emergence of data fandom in China. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23(4), pp. 493-511. ISSN 1367-8779
Negus, Keith. 2019. Nation-states, transnational corporations and cosmopolitans in the global popular music economy. Global Media and China, 4(4), pp. 403-418. ISSN 2059-4364
Negus, Keith. 2019. From creator to data: the post-record music industry and the digital conglomerates. Media, Culture and Society, 41(3), pp. 367-384. ISSN 0163-4437
Negus, Keith; Street, John and Behr, Adam. 2018. Copy rights: The politics of copying and creativity. Political Studies, 66(1), pp. 63-80. ISSN 0032-3217
Negus, Keith; Street,, John and Behr, Adam. 2017. Copying, copyright and originality; imitation, transformation and popular musicians. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20(4), pp. 363-380. ISSN 1367-5494
Negus, Keith; Behr, Adam and Street, John. 2017. The sampling continuum: musical aesthetics and ethics in the age of digital production. Journal for Cultural Research, 21(3), pp. 223-240. ISSN 1479-7585
Negus, Keith. 2015. The South Korean Music Industry: A Literature Review. CREATe Working Paper Series,
Negus, Keith and Astor, Pete. 2015. Songwriters and song lyrics: architecture, ambiguity and repetition. Popular Music, 34(2), pp. 226-244. ISSN 0261-1430
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.
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. ISSN 2032-0442
Negus, Keith. 2007. Living, Breathing Songs: Singing Along With Bob Dylan. Oral Tradition, 22(1), pp. 71-83. ISSN 0883-5365
Negus, Keith. 2006. Musicians on Television: Visible, Audible and Ignored. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 131(2), pp. 310-330. ISSN 02690403
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
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
Negus, Keith. 1998. Cultural production and the corporation: musical genres and the strategic management of creativity in the US recording industry. Media, Culture and Society, 20(3), pp. 359-379. ISSN 0163-4437