Dr. Kyle Barnett to deliver keynote at prestigious music history conference in Finland

May 13, 2024


Dr. Kyle Barnett

Dr. Kyle Barnett, associate professor of media studies, will deliver one of two keynote presentations at a prestigious music history conference in Helsinki, Finland, in June.
Barnett was invited to speak at “Musica Mercata: Finance, Commodity and the Music Industry from Antiquity to the Present,” the University of the Arts Helsinki’s 7th Sibelius Academy Symposium on Music History.
The symposium, which will be held June 5-7, “provides the opportunity for music-history scholars all over the world to interrogate issues around finance, commodity and the music industry in the history of music from antiquity to the present and in all parts of the globe,” according to its website.
Barnett was invited to speak because of his longstanding expertise in the field of recorded music, said Dr. Ingeborg Zechner, a member of the conference’s organizing committee.
“The rise of music recording and distribution technologies in the twentieth century brought massive changes to the music industry,” Zechner said. “These changes and their massive impact on the commodification on music and the sociocultural surroundings in which music is received are highly relevant to reflect music and its business in larger historical contexts. Kyle Barnett’s expertise will no doubt provide an important perspective in our scholarly exchange in Helsinki.”
The other keynote speaker is Gundula Kreuzer, professor of Music History and chair of the Department of Music at Yale University.
Barnett said he was “pleasantly surprised” to be invited. “Some of the most prestigious scholars in music, media and culture have spoken at this conference over time,” he said. “I’m proud to represent Bellarmine and thrilled to be speaking with and learning from scholars from across Europe and beyond.”
He will be speaking about work that began with his 2020 book, Record Cultures, on popular music’s circulation in media during the expansion of the recording industry between the two world wars.
“Previously, record companies on the East Coast (Victor, Columbia, Edison) controlled the business, but now upstart labels, largely based in the Midwest, were defining new market niches,” he said. “Those niches would become jazz, blues and country. In the process, music-as-media became increasingly tied to both radio and film, leading to the first major conglomerations of entertainment media in the twentieth century.” 
Barnett, whose work focuses on popular music, media history and sound cultures across media, has been published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies; Music, Sound and the Moving Image; and the Journal of Material Culture. He has co-edited issues of Creative Industries Journal and the Velvet Light Trap, while also contributing media and music columns for Flow, Antenna, and In Media Res.
Record Cultures: The Transformation of the U.S. Recording Industry, published by University of Michigan Press, is his first book. It won the 2021 Association for Recorded Sound Collections’ Award of Excellence for Best Historical Research on Record Labels.  
“That’s one of the great aspects of making something like a book—the work, once published, gets up and walks away, and who knows where it ends up,” he said. “Someone at Helsinki’s University of the Arts found Record Cultures and then found me.” 

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