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Professor Martin James

Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries

Faculty of Business, Law and Digital Technologies

Professor Martin James, Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries


Martin is Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries in the Faculty of Business, Law and Digital Technologies.

Martin lectures in music media, culture and society and the creative and cultural industries. He supervises PhDs in a range of subject areas that link to his research and teaching interests. In 2018 Martin was awarded the prestigious National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of both his large lecture innovation and his curriculum design for real-world learning. He subsequently represented Solent University on a lecture tour of Russia in 2019. Drawing on his educational expertise, he was also invited to be a member of the University’s Curriculum Framework Steering Group in 2018 and was able to have input into Solent University’s groundbreaking and world leading curriculum framework.

Martin’s specialist research and teaching interests include: music cities and future cities; hidden histories of late twentieth-century alternative music - specifically punk, post-punk and electronic music; and also music journalism in the UK and US printed and online music presses. His current research projects explore the cultural economy of key cities, the role of music in future cultural growth, and the place of music archive in the creation of a cultural city identity. This work currently includes investigations into Southampton's music heritage, mapping and gapping of Southampton's creative music industries and auditing the city's live music venue activities. More recently, this has extended into exploration into the impact of Covid-19 on Southampton’s music ecology. This work has been awarded funding by the University’s alumni-supported Covid-19 Response Fund.

Martin is an internationally acclaimed music critic with expertise in cultural histories of popular music. He is currently collaborating on a number of linked projects about music and writing with partner universities and organisations. Martin has published books on the cultural histories of electronic music scenes as well as a number of music biographies that have been translated into fifteen languages. In 2013 he co-authored Understanding the Music Industries (Sage) and has also published papers and chapters in leading journals and edited collections. He is currently working on a monograph, Music Journalism: Then & Now (Routledge) and a co-edited collection, Media Narratives in Popular Music (New York, Bloomsbury)

In 2009 Martin launched Solent’s groundbreaking annual SMILEfest event. It included a music industries conference, masterclasses, student challenges and Southampton’s longest running multi-venue festival. He acted as co-executive producer of the festival for ten years until 2019 when he launched the SO:Music City Festival in collaboration with the music department of the University of Southampton, Southampton City Council and other local stakeholders. This project sees students and staff working closely with local music industry organisations, venues and musicians on an open-air, city centre festival and music industry conference. Martin will be producing Solent University’s Black British Music Conference as part of Black History Month (South) in October 2020.

Martin currently chairs the University’s City of Culture Research Group and sits on Southampton’s City of Culture Bid Research Group. He is postgraduate research degree coordinator for the Faculty of Business, Law and Digital Technologies. Martin is also proud to sit on the Race Charter Mark Self-Assessment Team.

Martin welcomes potential PhD students. He would also be interested in hearing from colleagues regarding potential collaborative research projects.

Further information

Music and music media industries career (selected)

  • 2001 – 2004: Pro-Mo Solutions Ltd (T/A Pro-Motion)/ King Content, Brighton: Managing Director.
  • 2000 – 2001: 7, 7-online, Mixer (US). DMC Ltd, London - Managing Editor.
  • 1998 - 2000: Flipside (UK). Vedapoint Ltd, London - Editor.
  • 1998 - 1998: Front magazine, London - Music Section Editor (from launch issue).
  • 1997 – 1998: Vox magazine, IPC London - Features Editor.
  • 1996 –1998: Muzik magazine, IPC London - Media Section Editor, senior features writer.
  • 1995 – 1997: Melody Maker. IPC London - Front Section Editor.
  • 1994 – 1995: Zok Records, London - General Manager.
  • 1992 – 1994: Hydrogen Dukebox Records, London - General Manager.
  • 1992 – 1995: Bubblecat Press, London - Managing Director.

Freelance journalism

  • 2008 – 2015: popular music books critic: Times Higher Education.
  • 1991 - present: music critic: DJ, Electronic Sound.
  • 1991 – 2008: music critic: The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Guardian, The Sun, GQ, Loaded, FHM, Front, Q, Mojo, Uncut, Mixmag, DJ, Melody Maker, Select, Generator, Muzik, Vox, Future Music, Bang!, Electronic Sound, Independent Catalogue, Lime Lizard, Bullit, Overall,,, Urb (US), Sweater (US), Remix (US), Mixer (US), Blender (US).
  • 1997 - 2009: freelance copywriter: Arts Council of England, DfES (Aim Higher & Parents Online), Sony Music, Warner Music, EMI, Virgin Records, BMG, V2, Mute, Beggars Group.
  • 1994 – present: record company biographer/ PR copy writer: Hydrogen Dukebox, EMI Records, Sony Records, BMG, Beggars Group, Virgin Records, Warner Music, East West, V2, Universal Island, Universal Polydor, PIAS, Mute, Source, One Little Indian.
  • 1994 – 2005: sleeve notes copy writer:
    • The Prodigy - Their Law – The Singles 1990 – 2005 (XL).
    • Faithless – Back to Mine (DMC).
    • Yazoo – Only You, Best of Yazoo (Mute).
    • Xymox – Edits (Zok).
    • Various Artists – Bustin’ Loose (Wall of Sound).
    • Various Artists – Machino Weirdo (Hydrogen Dukebox).
    • Various Artists – The Sound of Paris (PIAS).
  • 1997 – 2002: television guest music expert/ critic:
    • Channel 4 News.
    • Sky News.

Taught courses

BA (Hons) Music Business

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