The modern music industry is subject to an exciting new study, out this month, by University of Birmingham sociologist Dr Peter Webb.

Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music: Milieu Cultures is an in-depth exploration of the social causes, and consequences, of contemporary music genres. Looking at musical movements and cultures in a variety of world cities – London, Berlin, San Francisco and Bristol, among others – Webb examines the relationships between cities, subcultures, record labels, independence and the global record industry.

Dr Webb is keen to make links between the art of music making and its social context. On the issue of controversial hip-hop, Webb says: "The sanitised, hyper-sexualised, consumerist, self-aggrandising version of hip-hop that dominates at present draws attention away from the more challenging, conscious, culturally aware and political hip-hop that has a committed and devoted audience".

And again, on independent punk music: "DIY punk was part of a social milieu that was responsible for developing a culture where vegetarianism, animal rights, anti-globalisation movements and environmental activism became a force strong enough to affect mainstream culture".

A primary theme of the book is defining what it means to be truly 'independent' in the context of modern music making. Webb claims that traditional independence, embracing subversive and groundbreaking styles, has been largely replaced by a constructed independence – the 'indie scene' – which, above all else, works to a strongly commercial logic. 

Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music will appeal to both academics and serious fans alike. A must-read for anyone with an interest in the social and global impact of modern music.


Further Media Information

Dr Peter Webb is available for interview. Please contact the Press Office on 07920 593 946.

Notes to Editors

Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music is published on December 14th.