Webster, Emma. 2015. ‘Roll Up and Shine’: The role of promoters at arena shows. In Edgar, R. et al (eds). The Arena Concert: Music, Mediation and Mass Entertainment. London: Bloomsbury: 99-110.
‘You have to put as much effort into putting somebody on to 120 people as to putting them on to 2,000 people, almost. It’s a bigger gamble, financially, but probably less work … The bigger the act, it’s probably less work’ (S. Basford, pers. comm., 6 July 2009). So Sheffield-based promoter, Stuart Basford, concluded when considering his role within large-scale live music events, and whose somewhat surprising analysis will form the basis of this chapter. While promoters stand to lose or gain more at large shows than for smaller shows, both in terms of financial and reputational gain, their involvement at large shows such as arena concerts is often far from being anywhere like as hands-on. Hence the seemingly paradoxical statement that as the size and scale of the show increases, so too the promoter’s active role decreases. This chapter examines this paradox within the context of arena shows in the United Kingdom and shows how the diminished role of the promoter is a result of the necessity of the division of labour, and because of the nature of the UK’s arena promotion sector.
Frith, Simon, Matt Brennan, Martin Cloonan, and Emma Webster. 2013. The History of Live Music in Britain 1950-1967: From the Dance Hall to the 100 Club. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.
The social history of music in Britain since 1950 has long been the subject of nostalgic articles in newspapers and magazines, nostalgic programmes on radio and television and collective memories on music websites, but to date there has been no proper scholarly study. The three volumes of The History of Live Music in Britain address this gap, and do so from the unique perspective of the music promoter: the key theme is the changing nature of the live music industry. The books are focused upon popular music but cover all musical genres and the authors offer new insights into a variety of issues, including changes in musical fashions and tastes; the impact of developing technologies; the balance of power between live and recorded music businesses; the role of the state as regulator and promoter; the effects of demographic and other social changes on music culture; and the continuing importance of do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Drawing on archival research, a wide range of academic and non-academic secondary sources, participant observation and industry interviews, the books are likely to become landmark works within Popular Music Studies and broader cultural history.
Behr, Adam, Matt Brennan, Martin Cloonan, Simon Frith, and Emma Webster. 2016. Live Concert Performance – an ecological approach. Rock Music Studies 3, no. 1: 5-23. DOI: 10.1080/19401159.2015.1125633
Webster, Emma. 2012. ‘One more tune!’ The encore ritual in live music events. Popular Music and Society 35, no. 1: 93-111. DOI: 10.1080/03007766.2010.538241
Brennan, Matt and Emma Webster. 2011. Why Concert Promoters Matter. Scottish Music Review 2, no. 1: 1-25. PDF
Frith, Simon, Matt Brennan, Martin Cloonan, and Emma Webster. 2010. Analysing Live Music in the UK: Findings One Year into a Three‐Year Research Project. IASPM@Journal 1, no. 1: 1-29. PDF
Webster, Emma and George McKay. 2016. From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury: The Impact of British Music Festivals: An AHRC-funded literature review.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the purpose of this report is to chart and critically examine available writing about the impact of British music festivals, drawing on both academic and ‘grey’/cultural policy literature in the field. To accompany the review, a 170-entry, 63,000-word annotated bibliography has been produced, which is freely accessible online via the project website. Click here to read full report and annotated bibliography.
Behr, Adam and Emma Webster with Matt Brennan. 2015. Edinburgh Live Music Census: Pilot Study.
A report containing the findings of the Edinburgh live music census, held in June 2015, and subsequent recommendations to Edinburgh City Council. Click here to read full report.
Webster, Emma. 2014. Association of Independent Festivals Six-Year Report 2014.
A report written to celebrate the AIF’s sixth birthday, which places the festival sector in its historical context and looks ahead to the future to see the issues currently facing festival promoters, with a focus on the AIF’s member festivals. Click here to read full report.
Papers and Invited Talks
- July 2016 Continental Drifts, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh: Presented a paper on the role of the jazz festival producer
- June 2016 Live Music Exchange, Newcastle: Presented a paper on the impact of British music festivals and hosted ‘in conversation with’ Jim Mawdsley
- April 2016 Researching Jazz Festivals, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham: Hosted an ‘in conversation with’ three jazz festival directors
- April 2016 Jazz Utopia, BCU, Birmingham: Presented a paper on the impact of jazz festivals
- March 2016 Connected Communities ECR Conference, UEA, Norwich: Presented a paper on the impact of festivals project
- February 2016 MARS Conference, Seinajoki, Finland: Keynote speech on live music venues in the UK
- September 2015 IASPM UK-Ireland Postgraduate Conference: Keynote speech on popular music futures: ‘Live music research and the Live Music Exchange’
- August 2015 Kendal Calling: Part of a panel on ‘Festival Britannia’ with Prof George McKay.
- October 2014 Festival Congress, Cardiff. Presented the six-year report of the Association of Independent Festivals.
- June 2014 Festivals Symposium, University of Salford. Presented a paper on the promoter’s role at an arena concert (Stereophonics).
- April 2014 Arts Research seminar, Oxford Brookes University. Presented a seminar on live music research.
- April 2014 Popular Music Research Unit Seminar, Oxford Brookes University. Presented a seminar on what makes for memorable gigs.
- September 2013 Social Media: The Fourth International Transforming Audiences Conference, University of Westminster. Presented a panel on the Off Axis Network with Dr Adam Behr.
- May 2013 Live Music Exchange, London. Presented a paper on ‘The academy and live music businesses: Research’, with Adam Behr.
- Nov 2012 Live Music Exchange, Cardiff. Organised a one-day knowledge exchange conference in Leeds, in collaboration with the University of Glamorgan. Fronted ‘In conversation with…’ Fiona Stewart (Director, Green Man Festival).
- May 2012 Live Music Exchange, Leeds. Organised a two-day knowledge exchange conference in Leeds, in collaboration with Leeds Metropolitan University. Contributed to closing plenary.
- Oct 2011 University of Edinburgh Music Department Colloquia. Presented a paper on ‘Encore rituals: An initial exploration’.
- Oct 2011 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh Popular Music afternoon seminar. Presented a paper on live music project findings alongside Simon Frith, Martin Cloonan, and Matt Brennan.
- Jul 2011 International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) International Conference, Grahamstown, South Africa. Presented a paper on ‘Bells and Whistles: Live Music in the UK and the Impact of Digital Technology’.
- Jun 2011 IASPM-Canada Conference, Montreal. Presented a paper on ‘Promoting Live Music: Collaboration and Competition at a Local, National, and International Level’ as part of a panel on The Ecology of Live Music, alongside Martin Cloonan and Matt Brennan.
- Apr 2011 The Business of Live Music Conference, Edinburgh. Presented a report on the Live Music Project, alongside Simon Frith, Martin Cloonan and Matt Brennan.
- Feb 2011 Sound Thought Conference, Glasgow. Presented a paper on ‘The changing structures with the live music industries in the UK and the impact on the local live music ecology’.
- Nov 2010 Festival Awards Conference, London. Presented the UK Festival Awards 2010 Report to a number of UK festival industry personnel at an industry conference.
- Oct 2010 Seminar at the University of Liverpool on The Promotion of Live Music in the UK: An Historical, Cultural and Institutional Analysis. Presented a paper on ‘Success and failure for live music promoters’ alongside Simon Frith, Martin Cloonan and Matt Brennan.
- Nov 2009 Sound Thought Conference, Glasgow. Presented a paper on ‘Encore rituals: An initial exploration’.
- Jul 2009 IASPM International Conference, Liverpool. Presented a panel on ‘Analysing Live Music in the UK: Findings One Year into a Three‐Year Research Project’ alongside Martin Cloonan and Matt Brennan.
- May 2009 Seminar at PRS for Music HQ, London, on The Promotion of Live Music in the UK: an Historical, Cultural and Institutional Analysis. Presented a paper on ‘The live music experience: what do audiences want at a live music event?’ to a number of UK live music personnel including Harvey Goldsmith and Melvin Benn.
- Nov 2008 Sound Thought Conference, Glasgow. Presented a paper on ‘An Introduction to Promoters’.
- Sep 2008 IASPM-UK Conference, Glasgow. Presented a panel on ‘Researching Live Music in the UK: Some Initial Thoughts’ alongside Matt Brennan.