I took up the Tovey Chair of Music on January 1 2006 having had quite an unusual academic career. My undergraduate degree (from Oxford ) was in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. My Masters and PhD (from the University of California, Berkeley ) were in Sociology. (My thesis topic was Education and the Working Class in Leeds, 1780-1870.)
I initially taught in the Sociology Department at the University of Warwick , before moving to Strathclyde University to become Director of the John Logie Baird Centre for Research in Film and Television and Professor of English Studies. In 1999 I moved to the University of Stirling and a chair in Film and Media.
For much of my career, as both an academic and journalist, I have been engaged with the problems of taking popular music seriously. As an academic I was a founder member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music and a founding editor of the journal, Popular Music, and the majority of my scholarly publications have been in this field. As I journalist I started out as an editor of the pioneering British rock magazine, Let It Rock, and became rock critic for both the Sunday Times and the Observer. I was a music columnist for the New York Village Voice from 1980-1995, and have chaired the judges of the Mercury Music prize since it began in 1992.
- Music sociology and music policy
I am currently researching various aspects of the historical sociology of British music culture since 1950, including music criticism in newspapers and magazines; and live music as a business and social experience.
From 2009-2011 I has a research grant from the AHRC for a three year project, in collaboration with Dr Martin Cloonan of Glasgow University, on the history and current practice of live music promotion in the UK. We are presently running a follow-up project. Also funded by the AHRC, exploring ways to propmote knowledge exchange between academic researchers and live music industry practitioners—see http://livemusicexchange.org/. The first volume of our history of live music in Britain will be published by Ashgate in March 2013. http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409422808