When Data Sings

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


Context and Aims This report was commissioned by Sound & Music, whose mission is described as seeking ‘to maximise the opportunities for people to create and enjoy new music’. One of the ways in which they pursue this mission is by supporting early career musicians, both financially and through the building of work methodologies which might advance their careers. The 'When Data Sings' report was the articulation of an online ethnography undertaken with musicians funded by Sound and Music exploring the ways in which these musicians were using social media to increase not only their visibility but, more importantly, to gain commissions for future work. Methodologies and Findings The research was conducted using thick data ethnography principles to produce a detailed and nuanced exploration of how young musicians used social media. A key methodological aspect was undertaking the participant interviews online (using Skype) to research the ways in which digital interviewing alters the researcher/participant dynamic. The outcome was that the participant gained primacy in the ethnographic process, leading to deeper engagement and a lessening of the ethnographer dominance. The interviews illustrated that all the young musicians were building sophisticated social media strategies (although they often did not recognise this was what was happening), using the then available evaluation and monitoring tools, and often arranging their daily schedules to allow full access to social media at key times for international markets. Participants also reported using differing personas according to social media platform, with Twitter being seen as the most valuable for advancement. The key finding was that having the digital skills necessary to manage one’s own profile and social media presence was vital for advancing an international music career. Dissemination Presentation of interim findings at Creativeworks London’s Creative Data Club (16/11/14), with report published on Sound & Music's website, July 2015.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSound and Music
Commissioning bodySound and Music
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 8 Feb 2015


  • digital ethnography
  • thick data
  • bid data
  • music
  • social media


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