Music Communities


Principal Investigator: Dr Siobhan McAndrew, University of Manchester
Co-investigators: Dr Roberta Comunian, Kings College London; Professor Nick Crossley, University of Manchester; Professor Graham Crow, University of Edinburgh
Collaborators: Dr Fay Hield, Musician and University of Sheffield; Ms Gaia Marcus, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
Duration: From 2012 to 2013

Social networks are critical for the creation and consumption of music. The ‘Music Communities’ programme investigated the core concepts and tools of social network analysis, and how they apply to the study of music. We examined a variety of distinct ‘music worlds’, including post-punk, jazz, folk, and classical music, by building datasets on links between musicians, and between audiences and events. We also investigated how music departments in HE institutes and conservatoires foster both informal and formal links between music students, between students and institutions, and between students and the wider music world.

The project led to the following outputs: an edited collection, Social Networks and Music Worlds (eds. N. Crossley, S. McAndrew and P. Widdop, Routledge Advances in Sociology, 2014); S. McAndrew and M. Everett, ‘Music as Collective Invention’, Cultural Sociology, 2014; J. Schifferes et al, Channelling Talent: The role of social networks in recognising and rewarding talent in the music industry (a report co-authored with the RSA); a two-day international conference, ‘The Social Spaces of Music’, co-organised with the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change, Manchester, in February 2013; a seminar and visit by the sociologist and network scholar Professor Bonnie Erickson (University of Toronto); and papers delivered to invited departmental seminars, the Sunbelt SNA international conference, and the European Workshop of Applied Cultural Economics. A number of papers analysing the datasets created for the project are under development, while the datasets compiled for the project will be archived at the linked website,

The edited collection is the key output for the project. Building upon canonic texts in the sociology of music, with the crucial innovation of examining musical network interaction via formal methods, Social Networks and Music Worlds highlights the possibilities of SNA for researchers in the arts and humanities. Contributions hail from leading and emerging scholars covering a range of music worlds (including punk, jazz, LadyFest, Francophone rap, folk) on a number of different scales (local, national and international). The editors offer a very clear introduction to the methodology of social network analysis for the uninitiated, while the collection more broadly sits at the nexus of sociological, musicological and cultural studies traditions.