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 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 recently completed research on ‘Digitisation and the Politics of Copying in Popular Music Culture’ with John Street and Adam Behr as part of the CREATe programme.
He is currently researching the impact of digitalisation and streaming on the production, consumption and value of recorded popular music.
He is also writing a book on Asian and Eurasian popular music with Hyunjoon Shin, Sungkonghoe University.
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.
Areas of supervision
Current PhD students and their fields of study
Emma Winston: Creativity, empowerment and community: the ukulele and expressions of marginalised identity
Ben Assiter: Electronic dance music culture in London and the space-time economy of the night
Alex De Lacey: The performance of grime music
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
Wong Chun-Kwok: The Globalization of the Handpan
Selected recent presentations
4000 years of popular song: cosmopolitan creativity and Eurasian dialogues, Keynote Address, Inter-Asia Popular Music Studies Conference, Communication University of China, Beijing, 9 June 2018.
Conglomerates, Countries and Cosmopolitans: Freedom and Constraint in the Digital Music Economy, Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Turku, Finland, 30 April 2018.
From phonograph to phone, from product to content: new patterns of creativity and conflict in the popular music economy, European Communication Conference, Mediated (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures, ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association), Prague, Czech Republic, 9-12 November, 2016.
Impact, Knowledge Exchange, and Public Engagement: Musicians and Music Industry Research, Expert Symposium: The Future of the State Arts Universities in Austria, Österreichischer Wissenschaftsrat (Austrian Science Board), Vienna, 10-11 March 2016.
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.
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.
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.
Negus, Keith. 2011. Producing Pop: Culture and Conflict in the Popular Music Industry. London: out of print.
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. 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. 2019. Nation-states, transnational corporations and cosmopolitans in the global popular music economy. Global Media and China, 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.
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