The Harkive Project
Harkive is an annual, online music research project that gathers stories from people around the world about how, where and why they listened to music on a single day. Since launching in 2013, the project has gathered over 10,000 stories.
This research emerged from my MA studies (2011-13) and was then funded by the AHRC-Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (2014-17). It has since formed a key part of my post-doctoral work. The research explores contemporary patterns of music consumption and the growing importance of data-derived technologies, an under-researched area of popular music studies.
Since the turn of the century, the business and cultural environments of popular music have been reconfigured around the emergence of data-derived and online technologies, including the Smartphone, streaming services and social media. My work with Harkive attempts to discover how the experiences of consumers are evolving in line with these changes. The research aims also to enhance understanding – within and outside of the academy – of how these key technologies function.
The research is based on an innovative methodology that simultaneously harnesses and critically explores data-derived technologies. Firstly, music consumers are invited to describe and reflect upon their everyday practice through an annual, single-day exercise in crowd-sourced data gathering. Secondly, the data gathered is then analysed using many of the same data-derived techniques used by key players in the digital music space. These include automated, large scale data collection and the machine learning processing.
Harkive has helped to reveal that respondents are developing a number of new everyday practices related to popular music consumption in an attempt to make sense of and negotiate new technologies. It also revealed some of the affordances and limitations of producing new knowledge through data-derived processes. Together, these outcomes have provided new knowledge for consumers and promoted further debate around the role of digital technologies in popular music.