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Rock and scroll: York lecturer’s punk rock band informs teaching

Posted on 12 March 2015

A University of York lecturer, who is also a member of garage punk rock band The Eruptörs, is using his experiences as a musician to provide practical knowledge in teaching.

Dr Alex Gillett

Dr Alex Gillett, Lecturer in Marketing at the York Management School, plays guitar with three-piece band The Eruptörs. Releasing four albums over the past eight years, he has a wealth of experience in collaborative marketing for the band, and hopes to encourage this kind of entrepreneurship in students.

The paper Creativities, Innovation, And Networks In Garage Punk Rock: A Case Study Of The Eruptörs, co-authored by Gareth Dylan Smith from the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance and Dr Gillett, describes the cross-disciplinary practices and theory behind The Eruptörs’ entrepreneurship, collaborations, networks, and creativeness in the “DIY” underground punk rock scene.

Using scholarly frameworks in business and marketing to present The Eruptörs’ entrepreneurship in multiple creative fields, Dr Gillett hopes the case study is used in teaching across higher education to benefit students and scholars in related disciplines.

He said: “With the majority of literature in popular music studies focusing on commercially successful bands, and coverage in mainstream media also privileging artists and performers that are highly visible and audible to the general public, we hope to offer an alternative, authentic account of being in a band.

“The context on which we position this paper is cross-disciplinary, involving music, education, and business. We propose, therefore, that this interdisciplinary study may be helpful as a teaching case – in both marketing and popular music education contexts. We believe our “real-world” experience as collaborative musician-entrepreneurs affords us the authority and credibility that is highly beneficial to teaching in these environments.

“I think it helps that I can talk about my experiences in the music industry when I'm teaching business students. Topics like music distribution, promotion and so on, are real business issues. We encourage colleagues in higher education to discuss and analyse examples of their own and others’ interdisciplinary practice, in music or other domains, in similar ways. We also want to encourage students to think of themselves as entrepreneurs.”

The article was recently quoted in Parliament as part of a Music Venue Trust report looking into ways to protect small music venues. Titled Understanding Small Music Venues, Dr Gillett and Gareth Dylan Smith stress the importance of “life in the underground… vibrant with relationships, creativities and entrepreneurship”. Kerry McCarthy, Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, hosted a launch event for the report.

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