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the early 1970s, the serious study of popular music has become an increasingly
common part of the university curriculum. The International Association
for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) and the Cambridge University journal Popular Music have both existed since 1981.
Popular music studies have been dominated by scholars from the social
sciences, as well as from media and cultural studies. There have been
repeated calls for greater contribution from musicians and musicologists
but the response has been slow. One important factor behind this relative
lack of music-immanent studies in the field has been that the publication
of analytical texts, which must by definition cite the music under analysis,
has been extremely problematic. The problems can be summarised as follows:
- The vast
majority of music which has to be cited is under copyright.
- The task
of discovering who holds the publishing and/or mechanical rights to
a work from which it is necessary to quote an extract ranges from difficult
to impossible. Discovering how to contact the copyright holder is also a time-consuming activity.
- In cases
where the name and address of the copyright holder for relevant areas
of the world is discovered and request for permission to cite is written
and sent, there is no guarantee of receiving an answer.
- In cases
where an answer is forthcoming, the response from the more commercial
publishers can often be "no" or demands are made for an amount which
no small academic publishing house, let alone the academic himself/herself,
can possibly afford.
publishers often dump all editing and administrative responsibility
in matters of music citation on to their authors, demanding that all
copyright permission be obtained by the authors themselves.
and articles containing music examples in notated form are much more
difficult to page lay than those consisting of mere text. They are also more difficult to sell because the appearance of notation tends to put off potential readers who can't make sense of written music. Commercial
publishers are usually reluctant to assume the extra costs that such
page laying entails.
effects of these problems on our understanding of music in contemporary
culture can be summarised as follows:
studies of "the actual music" are extremely rare, studies of "everything
but the music" very common.
- The false
assumption, not uncommon in the academic world, is propagated that words
are the only valid carrier of serious thought and that music is no more
than an intangible string of sounds is reinforced (logocentricity).
young music scholars see no career prospects in an area where publication
of research is so severely obstructed. Consequently, the development
of serious inquiry into not only popular music but into contemporary
culture in general is severly hampered in the long as well as short
scholars wishing to develop methods of analysis but unable, for reasons
already stated, to publish analyses of music under copyright are obliged
to focus on music in the public domain, such redirection fuelling the
false notion that music of either precapitalist societies or of bygone
centuries, especially that of the euroclassical canon, are the
only legitimate objects of serious study.
research into the music of everyday life in contemporary society is
so clearly hampered by the obstructions to publication enumerated earlier,
general education in music is also adversely affected.
facilitate legal publication of scholarly texts by music academics who,
as an important part of their work, engage in structural examination
of music in the mass media, and who, for commercial reasons, are unable
to publish the results of their research.
- To encourage promising younger scholars to pursue their studies of music
in the mass media by offering them the opportunity to publish their
work and consequently be recognised on an equal footing by the academic
- To increase the availability of reliable information and important ideas
about the uses and effects of music in the mass media.
is sometimes argued that publication and dissemination of scholarly writings
containing quotations, in the form of musical notation, of musical work
in the private domain will deprive copyright holders of revenue. As composers/authors
and scholars/authors, all three of us on the board of MMMSP refute this
objection as follows:
- In the
era of online music resources (file sharing, streaming, pay-per-download, etc.), using notation as a means of citing,
in academic texts, (parts of) musical works under copyright can never
be a profitable venture.
- Very few
musicians in the mass media use notation as a means of copying
or storing another author's work with a view to reperforming it for
payment: most use sound carriers, not sheet music or transcriptions,
for such purposes.
nevertheless wishing to acquire a sheet music copy of an individual
work under copyright would be financially ill advised to buy an entire
book, written for academic or educational purposes, just because the book happened to
contain part, or even all, of that work. It is much cheaper and easier to buy the
sheet music direct from the commercial publisher.
owners (parts of) whose musical works are cited (as notation) in scholarly
texts are much more likely to derive financial benefit from the serious
attention paid to their work in those texts than to suffer any disadvantages,
simply because readers of texts published by MMMSP may be made aware
of music they did not previously know and be encouraged to pay for a
recording of it.
- The democratic
right to understand messages mediated in the mass media entails understanding
how music works. It is impossible to understand how music works if it
cannot be deconstructed. It is impossible to deconstruct music if its
constituent parts cannot be presented to readers for analytical purposes.
It is therefore inconsistent and hypocrictical to expect people to be
able to sing a theme tune or advertising jingle but not allow them to
reproduce it, not even as musical notation, for purposes of media awareness.
makes no profit from its activities and could not do so even if it wanted
to (see above).
- No author
published by MMMSP derives financial benefit from the sale of any book
that is published in his/her name.
IN THE USA?
is registered in the United States of America partly for reasons of copyright
legislation. Firstly, the notion of 'fair use' when it comes to citing
works under copyright in scholarly or educational texts is more favourably
applied in the USA than, for example, in most EU countries. Secondly,
the MMMSP's own expert in matters of copyright (Bob Clarida) is a practising US attorney
with media rights as one of his special areas of competence: any copyright
problems that may arise would be best dealt with on his home turf. For
these reasons the point of sale for MMMSP publications must be in the
USA, and since none of the MMMSP's committee members have the time or facilities
to take on ordering, accounting, printing, storage and distribution, the
companies hired to carry out these tasks must also be located in the USA.
Moreover, financial transactions between these companies and the MMMSP
avoid international bank transfer charges. These considerations allow
us to (a) publish scholarly texts which need to cite from musical works
under copyright; (b) to keep production costs down.
academic books, like those we publish, are not best-sellers. That means
short print runs for hard-copy versions. The shorter the print run, the more expensive the printing,
binding and handling costs and the higher the price for the end user. That defeats the aim of making our books available to any serious student of mass media music anywhere in the world. Occasionally, however, we may produce a short run of actual hard-copy books, in which case we will advertise their availability on the publications page.
of publishing academic books which, in notated form, cite works under
copyright are discussed above. Finding a financially
and legally viable form for this activity was a long and complex process.
Not until Bob Clarida (media attorney in New York and co-author of Ten
Little Title Tunes) researched the matter (1993-96) did it become clear
that it would be possible to establish the MMMSP. Then we (Clarida and
Tagg) needed to find out how to do so, after which we had to effectuate
the actual incorporation, complete with statutes, bank account, etc. All
the time, we were both full-time employees in quite demanding professions.
up the MMMSP as a not-for-profit corporation, we had to discover the cheapest
and simplest way of making our publications available for purchase. We
agreed that online publishing presented the only
really viable alternative.