Welcome to The International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland Branch

Obsolete Media and Popular Music

Posted: May 20th, 2024 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | Comments Off on Obsolete Media and Popular Music

Yearbook “Lied und Populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture” of the Centre for Popular Culture and Music (University of Freiburg, Germany), Vol. 70 (2025), ed. by Knut Holtsträter and Dominik Schrey

Phonograph cylinder, shellac record, wire recording, LP, maxi, tape, compact cassette, VHS, Betacam, CompactDisc, MiniDisc, iPod, and – possibly once again – “vinyl.” Each carrier medium for audio and video recordings as well as the associated formats, playing devices and practices seem to have their own lifespan, they are ousted by more successful formats or replaced by new, more innovative formats. However, obsolete media do not simply disappear, but often find a new place in cultural and social niches and undergo changes in their use. Obsolescence means not only that a format is outdated, but also that the structures in which it was embedded in production, distribution, use and maintenance no longer exist in their original form. In one way or another, most once successfully established media technologies continue to exist, even if their original uses have been usurped by successor technologies. Obsolescence therefore always refers to the general social discourse on media and their popularity.

Possible topics and approaches include (but are not limited to):

I. History – How media become obsolete:

  • When and why is a medium obsolete? How to measure and evaluate obsolescence?
  • Doomed to fail? Subsequent re-evaluations and diachronic comparisons
  • Historical narratives as stories of success and failure
  • Keyword Edison: The influence of patent law on the history of (obsolete) media
  • Obsolescence and generationality
  • Gender narratives in the field of obsolete media
  • Obsolete media, DIY and musical subcultures

II. The present – Obsolete media today:

  • How do we create knowledge about obsolete media?
  • Collectors’ exchanges, specialists and current obsolete media markets
  • The digital revolution and the revival of obsolete media
  • 3D-printed Blue Amberol cylinders: production, repair and sustainability of obsolete media and the Internet of Things
  • Who does still make chrome tape? Large-scale industrial production vs. start-up thinking and manufacturing

For more information see

Potential contributors are asked to send abstracts of not more than 2,000 characters (including spaces) and a short academic CV by 1 July 2024. We will notify contributors by the end of July. The length of contributions should be between 35,000 and 50,000 characters (incl. spaces) and should be submitted by 1 February 2025. Please send any inquiries or abstracts to Dr. Knut Holtsträter ([email protected]). We accept contributions in German or English.