Measuring Live Music

One-Two-Three-Four! Measuring the values of live music - methods, models and motivations

In February 2020, at a conference in Germany, I sat down for a beer with the brilliant Dutch research Arno van der Hoeven (University of Rotterdam) to discuss ways we could work together on live music research. Today, just over a year later, that conversation seems like a good decision. Along with colleagues from the BLMP project and one of Arno’s colleagues, we’ve just published a new journal article in Arts and The Market (Emerald Publishing) looking at how live music is measured. The article is available Open Access and can be downloaded here.

This paper sets out to compare different methodologies for measuring the value(s) of live popular music and to explore the different motivations amongst a range of organisations engaged in that work. We analyse how the values of live music are measured, who does it and why. Based on this analysis we present a model that visualises the myriad of organisations, methods, aims and objectives involved.

We identify three approaches to measuring the impact of live music (economic impact studies, mapping and censuses and social sciences and humanities) and three types of actors (industry, policy and academia). The analysis of these demonstrates that measuring live music is not a neutral activity, but itself constructs a vision on how live music ecologies function. For cultural organisations, demonstrating the outcomes of their work is important in acquiring various forms of support. The model presented in this paper helps them to select adequate methodologies and to reflect on the consequences of particular approaches to measuring live music activities.

While the number of studies measuring live music’s impact is growing, theoretical and methodological reflection on these activities is missing. We compare the different methodologies by discussing strengths and weaknesses. This results in a model that identifies gaps in existing studies and explores new directions for future live music research.

Dr Craig Hamilton
Dr Craig Hamilton

My research interests include popular music, digital humanities and online cultures.