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Title: Organising pop : why so few pop acts make pop music
Author: Jones, Michael Lewis
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 1997
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At any one time thousands of pop acts aspire to making hit records - the only guarantee that the music they make is indeed popular music. Of these aspirant acts, only a tiny percentage actually make pop records that have a chance of reaching a mass market for popular musical products. What is more surprising is that only one-in-eight of pop acts signed by major record companies goes on to attain popular success. This study is concerned to discovering what it is about the nature of record-making that so regularly ends in the failure of the vast majority of pop acts signed to major record companies. As a search for the answer to a question, this research study begins by attempting to define and qualify the terms of its analysis. Within this, the position of the researcher and the methods of data collection allowed by that position are explored in some detail. This exploration is necessitated by the singularities of my position as researcher - not only do I discuss record making from the perspectives gained through my own experience of that activity; I also explore a record I helped to make. The method applied in this case, 'Intellectual Autobiography', is novel, but not unprecedented. Additional data is generated through an adaptation of an allied methodology - that of 'Interpretive Interactionism' - in the construction of the 'case histories' of two further pop acts who also failed to make hit records for major companies. The 'singularity' of this research project is further expressed in the nature of its theorisation - where theory is the goal rather than the medium of the study. This does not render it an exercise in empiricism, however. The nature of the subject matter should indicate how problematic is the making of music that becomes popular music only through the agency of mass sales. In exploring the coincidence, interaction and mutual dependency of music-making and musical commodity-making, this study analyses the production processes of popular music. It does this, firstly, by considering what representations exist of popular music production in the literature on popular music. It then suggests that concepts developed in the field of Organisation Theory can assist in the further development of the understanding of the industrial processes of popular music production. The analysis of the data generated in the construction of the three case histories through the application of Organisation Theory concepts leads to the proposition that a 'supra organisation' is called into existence by the process of record-making. The study then draws the conclusion that this notion of the 'supra organisation' can be utilised as an heuristic device for the analysis of record-making as a dynamic whole. Suggestions are then made for further research into popular music-making which proceeds from an appreciation of the need to treat record-making holistically and to access it through a modified version of the practice of ethnomethodological ethnography.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Popular music; Rock music; Record making