The Birth of the Music Business: Public Commercial Concerts in London 1660–1750

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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As a case study in cultural production and consumption and of the commodification of culture in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, this study examines how musicians in London began to emerge from their dependence on the patronage of court, aristocracy and church into a more public sphere, moving from positions as salaried employees to a more freelance existence where they contributed to their income by putting on public commercial concerts. Taking as its starting point the almost 50,000 references to music recorded in the Register of Music in London Newspapers 1660–1750, a database has been built to record detailed information extracted from over 12,000 advertisements, puffs and news items related to commercial concert giving in London between 1660 and 1750. Concert advertisements and other material may thus be studied longitudinally in relation to each other, providing a valuable source of data for the growth of concert giving in London over a long and important period of its development.
Public commercial concerts emerged in London in the period following the restoration of Charles II in 1660, developing from private music meetings dominated by amateur performers and informal public performances by professionals in taverns via John Banister’s first advertised concerts in 1672. By 1750, public commercial concerts in London may not have achieved their final form or the heights of popularity that accompanied the ‘rage for music’ of the 1790s, but they were promoted regularly and with a clear sense of programme planning, laying the foundations for later expansion. The possibility for musicians to make a living as freelance professionals without having to rely solely on patronage, their development of commercial skills, their emerging links with music publishers, all this is witness to the birth of music as a business in London in the period between 1660 and 1750.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Napier, Christopher, Supervisor
  • Liston Heyes, Catherine, Supervisor
  • Corfield, Penelope, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Aug 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • Concerts
  • London
  • Music Business
  • Arts Marketing
  • Business History
  • Marketing History

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