This research aims to explore in detail aspects of the role and character of student unions as venues for live music in post‐war Britain. Guiding questions ask: what part have student unions, entertainment officers and the wider body of students – in their role as consumers – played in the economics of the live music business? What is specific to the business of live music in student unions? How is this sector of activity related to national and local scenes, promoters, non‐student audiences and the wider popular music culture and economy?
The research draws upon formal and informally archived sources to formulate definitions and scope for research, tracing the historical emergence and fortunes of popular music programming in universities.
The research traces a history of professionalization of music provision by students, a result of co‐ordination efforts by the National Union of Students. It outlines the specific character of live music business in student unions as determined by its subsidized nature.
Sources for research are unevenly preserved and the scope of activity – historical and contemporary is considerable. Further empirical research is required in order to fully explore this important, if neglected area of cultural and economic activity.
The role and character of student unions in the economy of the music industry is rarely considered and this paper offers set of concepts for further research and detailed historical insights into this sector of business.
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