CFP: “Backstage and Behind the Glass”: Popular Music Study Group Evening Session, AMS Boston

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American Musicological Society Popular Music Study Group

“Backstage and Behind the Glass”

Call for Papers


Submission deadline: April 1, 2019

Conference date: Thursday, October 31, 2019

Boston, MA


Keynote Speaker: Steve Waksman (Smith College)


The theme of this year’s AMS Popular Music Study Group paper session is “Backstage and Behind the Glass.” A trend has emerged since the early 2000s where historically important people related to the creation and production of popular music have begun to receive wider public recognition. A number of documentary films including Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2003), Tom Dowd and the Language of Music (2003) The Wrecking Crew (2008), Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013), Who the F**k Is Arthur Fogel (2013), Hired Gun (2016), and Roadie: My Documentary (2019) have focused on the contributions of influential but relatively unknown music industry professionals. Collectively these films shine a spotlight on individuals who rarely stand near center stage. While their value and importance have long been recognized by musicians and industry insiders, the majority of the public is likely unaware of who exactly, besides the star, was involved in the production of their favorite song.


In an effort to broaden the conversation about popular music, we invite papers that examine the roles of:

- booking agents

- instrument manufacturers

- instrument technicians (“roadies”)

- personal managers

- music publishers

- music executives

- tour managers and promoters

- creative agents who identify as producers, studio engineers, session musicians, and songwriters - others who are connected in significant ways to the business of music.


We define “popular music” in the broadest possible sense, including, but not limited to pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, EDM, country, minstrelsy, parlor songs, Tin Pan Alley, and jazz, as well as non-Western popular musics. We seek papers from a wide variety of disciplinary, historical, methodological, and personal perspectives.


The session format allots each speaker 15 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for discussion. Send proposals of no more than 300 words via Word document to  along with your name, affiliation, and any audio, visual, or other needs for the presentation.