Studies of modern music production and the methodical uses of metadata

McGarry, Glenn (2020) Studies of modern music production and the methodical uses of metadata. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Digital technology has played a central role in revolutionising the ways in which recorded popular music is both produced and consumed. This radical transformation, coined as the “mp3-crisis”, has been both devastating in its impact, and has opened up opportunities for art, technology, and business. The rise of file sharing platforms and the accessibility of digital production tools undermined both the music business’s model of distribution and models of music production leading to huge drops in revenue and a drastic reduction of the recording studio sector. Meanwhile, the emergence of digital marketplaces serving the supply chain are burgeoning, and the ‘democratisation’ of music-making digital tools has furthered the arts in allowing a broader range of people to engage in music-making.

Underlying developments in music technology have in recent years centred on the enrichment of musical metadata, which is emerging as a valuable resource driving novel and unique applications for consuming, discovering and interacting with music. In the music production domain, however, little is known about the role of musical metadata other than it has traditionally been treated as a by-product of the production process, having little or no value beyond that, and is largely discarded. Furthermore, music production processes have traditionally remained opaque to the kinds of inquiry that can contribute to understanding work practices and drive design thinking around novel and supportive applications of technology.

The thesis aims to address this problem space by addressing three main research questions:

1) How is music production organised in the “post-mp3-crisis” world?

2) What is the role of metadata in the social organisation of music production?

3) What are the implications of metadata’s organisational production and use for the design of music production technologies?

To address these questions, three empirical studies of music production are reported in this thesis that unpack and explicate much about the methodical purposing of metadata that are created and used in production processes. The study findings contribute to addressing these research question as follows:

1) Demonstrating there are no longer ‘standard’ ways to model music-making activities and that understandings are better served by study at the level of work practices;

2) Detailing the organisational and coordinative role of metadata, which is elsewhere understated in its importance to music making processes.

3) Highlighting implications for design that suggest metadata has a role in extending functionality of music production technologies, which have been captured conceptually in academic publication, and demonstrated in engagement with design practitioners in the development of novel production tools.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Crabtree, Andrew
Greenhalgh, Christopher
Keywords: Design Ethnography, Music Production, Practical Metadata Uses
Subjects: M Music and Literature on music > M Music
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 60392
Depositing User: McGarry, Glenn
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2020 11:30
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 08:26

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