As the way people consume music continues to change, the Harkive project investigates how people's experiences are evolving with these changes.

Harkive musical archive project


Research background

Harkive emerged from Dr Hamilton’s MA studies (2011-13) and was then funded by the AHRC-Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (2014-17).

It has since formed a key part of Dr Hamilton’s post-doctoral work, funded internally by BCU as part of his career development. The research explores contemporary patterns of music consumption and the growing importance of data-derived technologies, an under-researched area of popular music studies.

Research aims

Since the turn of the century, the business and cultural environments of popular music have been reconfigured around the emergence of data-derived and online technologies, including the Smartphone, streaming services and social media.

This research attempts to discover how the experiences of consumers are evolving in line with these changes. The research aimed to enhance understanding – within and outside of the academy – of how these key technologies function.

How has the research been carried out?

The research was based on an innovative methodology that simultaneously harnessed and critically explored data-derived technologies.

Firstly, music consumers were invited to describe and reflect upon their everyday practice through an annual, single-day exercise in crowd-sourced data gathering.

Secondly, the data gathered was analysed using many of the same data-derived techniques used by key players in the digital music space. These included automated, large scale data collection and the machine learning processing.

Outcomes and impact

The research revealed that respondents are developing a number of new everyday practices related to popular music consumption in an attempt to make sense of and negotiate new technologies. It also revealed some of the affordances and limitations of producing new knowledge through data-derived processes.

Together, these outcomes provided new knowledge for consumers and promoted further debate around the role of digital technologies in popular music.

More information can be found via the project interface.