The Artistry and Business of Queen; Past, Present and Future

10th June 2020, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, deadline 28th March 2020

According to the most recent International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (I.F.P.I.) Global Recording Artist of the Year chart, published 26th February 2019, Queen were listed at Number 6 in the top 10. This independently verified chart “includes sales of albums – across digital, CD and vinyl formats; singles, both downloaded and physical;

and streams across the calendar year. The chart includes all the music of each artist featured, not just one track or album. It uses album equivalent units to combine measurements of downloads, physical sales and streams.”

There are however a number of factors that arguably present disadvantage to Queen in relation to the other artists on the list.  The other artists are all alive and able to produce new material that acknowledges contemporary tastes, whereas the vast majority of Queen’s recorded music predates 1991 and what was once a band of four, continues with only two of the original line-up as a consequence of Freddie Mercury’s death on the 24th November 1991 and John Deacon’s withdrawal from the music industry in 1997.

A factor that will have contributed to Queen’s recent spike in popularity is the film Bohemian Rhapsody, released 24th October 2018, which has widely been reported as the highest-grossing music biopic of all time.  This film project is a fairly typical example of how Queen, throughout their careers, have and continue to manoeuvre their brand into many different areas including success in the West End with the musical We Will Rock You, and even a Monopoly board game.

Despite the environmental factors that shape the music industry; politics, economy, culture, technology, et al, continually changing how music is made, sounds, is presented, monetised and consumed, Queen have managed to maintain success spanning five decades and continue to thrive in the post-digital age.

This conference will examine Queen’s enduring appeal, by looking at the band’s artistic achievements, style, approaches to technology, multi-media character, as well as their business practices and brand. It is especially interested in locating Queen in the changing media and industry landscape caused by the digital shift and considering Queen as a test case to explore the idea that you don’t have to be alive to be amongst the highest earning musicians.

The conference seeks to bring together music industry practitioners and academics from a range of disciplines in music studies, including musicology, composition, performance, cultural theory, philosophy, film and media studies, sociology, and business studies to examine the many dimensions of Queen, past and present but also to consider what the future may hold for Queen and what lessons we may derive that could inform future practice.

20-minute papers (plus time for questions) are invited, including but not limited to the following:

Artistry;

  • Musicological analysis and composition, music and lyrics
  • Technology, studio craft, instruments, and instrumentation
  • Queen live performance and production
  • Packaging, physical and digital, album covers and design
  • Queen’s relationship with video, cinema and theatre
  • Queen’s solo activities
  • Queen post Mercury

Business

  • The Queen brand
  • Digital Queen; strategies, the internet and streaming
  • Synchronisation strategies & Rights management
  • Brand, merchandising and endorsements
  • Queen on the tribute circuit
  • Commoditisation of the Red Special and other Queen inventions
  • Community; the relationships between the band and audiences
  • Collectability, piracy and bootlegging
  • Queen in print and the media
  • Queen management, commercial and legal affairs

Culture

  • Queen; sexual orientation and ethnicity
  • Queen as an epitome of British pop-rock
  • Queen as an example of the enduring appeal of dead stars

Abstracts (in word, not pdf) of no more than 300 words with a short bio should be e-mailed by 28 March 2020 to Tony Rigg trigg@uclan.ac.uk and Prof. Ewa Mazierska ehmazierska@uclan.ac.uk.

University of Central Lancashire