Dr Edward K. Spencer

Department of Music
Research Fellow

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My research examines Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and its entanglements with the Internet. I am particularly interested in EDM memes, trolling practices, and the record label PC Music. My work is interdisciplinary and involves methods such as digital ethnography, webometrics, and analysis of music and the moving image.  


  • MusB, University of Manchester (2014)
  • GRNCM, Royal Northern College of Music (2015)
  • MSt Music, University of Oxford (2016)
  • DPhil Music, University of Oxford (2020)


Following undergraduate studies on the joint course at the University of Manchester and Royal Northern College of Music, I freelanced as a horn player and worked with Manchester Camerata, Manchester Concert Orchestra, and Northern Chamber Orchestra. I then embarked on postgraduate research and completed a DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford.


I work with Christopher Haworth on the AHRC project Music and the Internet: Towards a Digital Sociology of Music. I am currently investigating the ‘web history’ of popular electronic music 1990-2020. This involves explorations of archived mailing lists on hyperreal.org, analysis of exchanges on dubstepforum.com, and digital ethnography in social web spaces devoted to the PC Music label.

My doctoral research investigated the role of the drop in Electronic Dance Music (EDM), with a focus on the Harlem Shake meme of 2013 and the alt-right weaponization of the drop during the 2015-2016 US Presidential Race (a period also known as ‘The Great Meme War’). My published work to date is concerned with EDM and ASMR content on YouTube and involves analysis of YouTube comments.


Recent publications


Spencer, E 2017, 'Re-orientating Spectromorphology and Space-form through a Hybrid Acoustemology', Organised Sound, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 324-335. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355771817000486


Spencer, E 2020, Touching Sounds: Re-examining audiotactile affect with reference to ASMR YouTube content and musical production practices. in J Dack, TS & A Stanović (eds), Music and Sound Art: Composition, Performance, Philosophy. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, pp. 70-92.

Other contribution

Haworth, C, Sofer, D & Spencer, E 2021, Information Overload: Music Studies in the Age of Abundance.. <https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/music/events/2021/information-overload-music-history-in-the-age-of-abundance.aspx>


Spencer, E 2020, '"Why has God abandoned us?": On the Drop, the Fall, and the Harlem Shake Meme of 2013', Paper presented at Like, share and subscribe: YouTube, music and cyberculture before and after the new decade, Lisbon, Portugal, 1/10/20 - 3/10/20.

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