2016 IASPM-US Conference



International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US and Canada Branches

2016 Annual Conference
Wanna Be Startin’ Something: Popular Music and Agency
Calgary, Alberta (Canada)
May 28-30, 2016

The web editors will be updating conference information as it arrives. If you have any questions about the conference that are not answered here, please contact Katherine Meizel, the chair of the program committee, at kmeizel@gmail.com.

Program with Abstracts and Presenter Bios

Arrival Information & Campus Map
Membership and Conference Registration
Travel and Accommodations
A/V and Equipment Requests
2016 Program Committee
Theme & Call for Papers

Arrival Information & Campus Map

You can pick up your registration for Congress, including IASPM at the Congress Hub, which is in the Kinesiology B building, shown in blue on the map with a star on it (on left hand side near the top). If you have already registered, bring a copy of the email confirmation with you to get your badge and official receipt. You will need to do this before coming to the presentations. If you want, you can pick up your registration on Friday May 27 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. The Congress Hub opens again at 7:30 am on Saturday May 28.

If you have not yet registered, you can do so on-site. You will have to register for Congress AND for IASPM at the Congress Hub. If you are registering on-site, you will need to provide a major credit card, as Congress is not set up for cash.

Our panels are all taking place in the Professional Faculties Building (Rooms 110 and 114, and in Murray Fraser Hall (Room 160). These buildings are contiguous, so Murray Fraser 160 is actually just down the hall from the other two rooms. There is coffee and tea starting at 8:00 in these rooms all three mornings.

If you’re not staying on campus, or nearby, the public transportation is fairly convenient. The LRT (light rail transit) station is on the Northeast side of campus (see the left hand side near the top of the map). This will get you to the Kensington area, downtown and points south fairly easily and quickly.

For dining on campus, most of what’s available is in MacEwan Hall, including the ‘beer tent’ (not actually a tent).

Off campus, there are a few more options but not right next to campus. Check out the Kensington area at Kensington Avenue and 10th Street NW (the Sunnyside stop on the LRT line). There are some spots downtown, as well as the Beltline (the area south of downtown between 10th Avenue South and 17th Avenue South , and 12th Street West and 2nd Street West.


Membership and Conference Registration

IASPM-US Membership

Before registering for the 2016 IASPM-US conference in Calgary, each attendee must first become a member of IASPM-US, or renew an existing membership (membership in an IASPM branch is required for conference attendees, whether or not they are presenting). To initiate or renew membership in IASPM-US, please visit Wiley-Blackwell. Membership in IASPM-US brings with it many benefits, from full website access to a free subscription to our in-house publication (the Journal of Popular Music Studies) to participation in a network of like-minded colleagues. Membership in IASPM-US also allows you to make presentations at our conferences. Moreover, as a member of IASPM-US you become a member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music and will receive the International’s newsletter, Review of Popular Music. All rates include membership in the US and International chapters of IASPM and a subscription to JPMS. Dues are as follows:

Individual memberships US $70 Student membership US $39 Unwaged membership US $45 Joint memberships US $81

Conference Registration

Our conference this year is part of the Canadian Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2016, a gathering of many of Canada’s scholarly societies. They will handle all of the registration matters.

Registration is now open. You can register at the following link:


Please register as soon as you can. Registration fees will go up as of April 1, 2016.

You can find information on Congress at the following link:


Follow the directions as outlined at this site and they will guide you through the process. You will be prompted to indicate which society’s conference you are attending. We are listed as the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

All the fees for the conference are in Canadian Dollars (a considerable discount if you’re coming up from the US!). The fees are structured as follows:

Congress Fee

Until March 31, 2016

Regular: $175
Student/Retired/Unwaged: $65

As of April 1, 2016

Regular $210
Student/Retired/Unwaged $85.

In addition IASPM is charging the following fee:

Regular $75

Students/Retired/Unwaged $30.

Both fees are paid through the Congress site.

Please remember that you must be a member of IASPM to present. If you are not a member, you must join and pay your membership by May 15 or you will be removed from the program.

Travel and Accommodations

The Congress site provides comprehensive information on travel and accommodation at congress. As there will be several thousand academics converging on Calgary over this period of time, it would be wise to book as soon as you can.

We are planning to run full sessions for all three days of the conference (May 28 -30). Please make arrangements that allow you to be in Calgary for all three days.

Also, please note that Congress provides Childcare for children up to 12 years of age.

A/V & Equipment Requests

We will have standard AV in all of the rooms: computers with projectors, speakers and internet access. If you require anything beyond this, please let us know as soon as possible.

2016 Program Committee

Chair: Katherine Meizel (Bowling Green State University),

Committee: David Blake (University of Akron), Kimberly Mack (University of Toledo), Andrew Mall (Northeastern University), Owen Chapman (Concordia University), Brian Fauteux (University of Alberta), Charity Marsh (University of Regina).

Call for Proposals (Abstracts due December 1, 2015)

Wanna Be Startin’ Something: Popular Music and Agency

Making and listening to music are agentive processes, involving a network of actions and transactions: acts of expression, acts of faith, acts of sound and silence, acts of rebellion. Through musical choices we act and impact our world, each other and our environment, shaping our individual and communal experiences. As we create and consume music, we respond to, reinforce, and reconfigure the social structures that frame our lives.

Our theme encourages participants to explore the difficult, delicate negotiations of power within which music is situated, and which in turn permeate the popular music industries of the twenty-first century. Who is in charge in the production and consumption of music? What role does music play in the social revolutions of disenfranchised communities? How do music and its technologies inform our responses to injustice? How do we censor and empower bodies through music?

The 2016 IASPM-US Annual Conference and IASPM-Canada Annual Conference will take place from May 28-30, 2016 at the University of Calgary, Canada, as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Papers related to Canadian themes are especially welcome.

Papers may address one of the following subthemes, other issues regarding music and agency, or – as always – any other topic in the study of popular music.

1) Who Runs the (Music) World?

The dynamics of production and consumption remains a central theme of popular music studies. It is also vital to the new music industries of the twenty-first century, in which a multimediated sense of consumer choice and participation has become a marketing mainstay. Recent pop processes—streaming services, reality competitions, the rise of YouTube stars, the burgeoning Internet fan community—have been characterized as democratizing, providing increased access, choice, and interaction between listeners, artists, and producers. But as musical consumers find new forms of empowerment, the emergence of neoliberal corporate policies and development of the 360° deal may perpetuate the dominant power structures of the music industry. So whose voices are heard? And who listens?

How are new musics and new technologies reshaping ideas about musical agency among fans? How do musicians work to retain or reclaim agency in the popular music industry’s current political economy? In what generative or productive ways do individual and communal agencies intersect?

2) Music and Social Justice

Recent years have seen the emergence of new and renewed discourses critiquing the continued impact of poverty and structural racism in the lives, and deaths, of North Americans. Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots protesting economic inequality have counted musicians among their most vocal proponents, and music has become integral to the progress of the movement. Beginning in the U.S. and spreading to Canada, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked new, charged conversations about injustice. Among the voices of protest, those of musicians have persistently driven the conversation. With new songs and revivals of familiar ones, Black artists have called listeners to attention, called them out, and called for action. They have echoed the mantras shouted by marchers in the streets, and in turn their own words have become rallying cries there. The current moment perhaps marks the most vital presence of protest music in American public culture since the beginning of the Iraq war.

In both the U.S. and Canada, indigenous peoples continue to fight against racial violence, disenfranchisement, discrimination, and misrepresentation. Discourse about Native/First Nations/aboriginal cultural appropriations has entered a broader public forum in the past few years, recently explicitly acknowledged in the banning of faux “Native American headdresses” at several music festivals in North America and Europe. In Canada, music has helped to fuel the grassroots movement Idle No More, which not only critiques renewed challenges to indigenous sovereignty, but also contributes leading voices to the fight for environmental protection.

These movements have also provoked reexaminations of the intersectionalities that permeate marginalized experiences in the U.S. and Canada, where people of color in particular face gendered, classed, religious, and ableist discrimination and violence.

In these and other contexts, we ask: How does music empower individuals and communities in the face of injustice? How do music and social media intersect in responses to oppression?

3) Music and Dis/Ability

Studying music and agency in Western frameworks inherently means studying ability, examining intersecting ideas and ideologies about extraordinary bodies and minds, about how they are allowed to act. Both musical bodies and disabled ones are inscribed with intertwined notions of difference and supernatural interventions, and positioned outside the statistical realm of the “normal.” The stories of our most idolized popular musicians are entangled in public mythologies of mental illness and addiction; disabled bodies are celebrated only when they also inhabit discourses of genius. The music industry operates with the assumption that consumers experience music in the same ways, though the sensory processing of music works diversely among many individuals and even communities.

How do discourses of ability and disability support and silence musicians?

How does musical ability impact a musician’s agency? How is the dis/abled body inscribed in popular song? Following the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, how accessible is popular music? And how do accessibility practices shape the experiences of fans and artists?