Andrew Dubber

It’s traditional, when one becomes a professor, to give an inaugural lecture that explains your research and, hopefully, demonstrates your professorial qualities amongst your peers and to a wider audience. It’s a celebration and an initiation ceremony all rolled into one.

As I’ve just become a professor, this honour and/or ordeal awaits me, though I believe I am being spared until such time as we move into the new building, which will be after the summer break.

In the meantime, a blog post will have to do.

I have just returned from a research sabbatical, during which time I finished and submitted my book Radio in the Digital Age, which will be published by Polity later this year, and I also received the first copies of my co-authored text book Understanding the Music Industries, published by Sage. I’ve been travelling a great deal as well, and in LA, I have been interested to learn more about the inner workings of the sync licensing industry – that is, the people who put songs into movies, games and TV shows. What’s fascinating about that to me is the significant proportion of lesser known independent artists that make good money that way – and the extent to which a piece of music is considered ‘licensable’ or not based on a number of factors, not all of which have to do with the sonic qualities or songwriting style of the work.

In addition, I’ve started work on a documentary project collaboration with local filmmakers Blue Hippo, who made the excellent Last Shop Standing. The documentary comes out of my research into Fora do Eixo – the network of independent music collectives in Brazil who are achieving significant economic and cultural outcomes outside of what might ordinarily be considered the traditional music industries. In fact, they’ve grown to the point now where they have their own currency, their own university, their own bank and their own political party. Far more than a group of people who put on gigs around the country, Fora do Eixo have become a social movement to be reckoned with – and that’s the subject of the film. I’ll be spending a few weeks travelling across Brazil doing the interviews in July and August.

In the meantime, I’m returning to the teaching, catching up with my MA students, and will be presenting at a couple of academic conferences over the next few weeks. I also have a couple of research proposals in the works. More on those soon.

As far as the sabbatical goes – it was lovely to be away, but it’s nice to be back. And with a new job title too. I wonder if I’ll get business cards this time…?

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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