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How do musicians make money? Combining music-making and research

How do musicians make money? Combining music-making and research

Music • Dr Tom Hodgson

My subject:
Music

About me:
My name is Tom Hodgson and I am a Research Associate in the Department of Music at King’s College London.  I also play the trumpet and various other instruments in indie-folk band Stornoway and am Co-Founder & CEO of Tigmus.

What is my research project? 
I was awarded £221,469 in 2013 for a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at King’s College London.  The ethnographic project explored music making in the Mirpur area of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, a region from which the majority of the British Pakistani community originate. 

The economic and social landscape of this area has been radically transformed in recent years by money flowing back from the diaspora.  My research took me to Pakistan, where I followed the lives of hereditary musicians as they travelled around Punjab and Kashmir, performing at the functions of British Pakistanis.

How these complex and overlapping layers of music, capital and exchange play out across the area and beyond has formed the basis of a wider interrogation of recent studies on music and Islam, the anthropology of globalisation, and capitalism in the twenty-first century.

During my ethnography it also became clear that migrant groups are increasingly using technology and the Internet to interact, share music, transfer remittances and form online communities.  I am now working on a broader project that looks at music, capital and technology, building on emerging trends in ethnomusicology that focus on digitisation, online ethnography and capitalism.

How my British Academy award helped me:
One of my central interests throughout the Fellowship has been the question of how musicians make money in the twenty-first century. My three-year Fellowship opened up an intellectual space for me to explore this question in a number unexpected ways. Having toured extensively in cities around Europe with indie-folk band Stornoway, and appeared on the main stages at Glastonbury, Latitude, Radio 2 and BBC 1, I have developed a further interest in thinking ethnographically about how musicians make money in an economic environment rapidly being shaped by new technologies.

Along with the band’s bassist, Oli Steadman, I established an online platform called Tigmus (This is Good Music), which uses data and analytics to match artists with venues.  The company, which now employs five people full-time and represents over 900 venues and 2000 artists, makes use of data from streaming and social media platforms such as Spotify, YouTube and Facebook, to tell artists exactly where and when they should perform, making the gig-booking process more efficient and equitable for musicians. Questions that stemmed from my research have thus led to the creation of new jobs within the music industry and generated new income for emerging artists.

 

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