Under suspicion: Library music and the Musicians’ Union in Britain, 1960–1978

Elodie A. Roy

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Drawing primarily from unpublished archival data, this article reconstructs the Musicians’ Union long embargo on library recording in Britain (1965–1978), retracing the immediate as well as long-lasting implications of the ban for the shaping of library music practices and discourses. The article demonstrates how crucial relations with the Union were in shaping the nascent library music industry as well as the working lives of the many individuals and groups involved in it, including London-based session musicians and music publishers. More theoretically, the article argues for a horizontal, ecological approach to library music culture, acknowledging its many intermediaries and prompting us to consider (musical) history in its unfinishedness, heterogeneity and ambiguity. The methodological challenges of researching ephemeral or ‘secondary’ music are also highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPopular Music
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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