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Last updated 18th April 2024


Jan Herbst is a popular music scholar, musicologist, music producer, and guitar player who joined the University of Huddersfield in August 2017 as a Lecturer and is now Reader in Music Production. He is Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded projects’ Heaviness in Metal Music Production’ (HiMMP) ( and ‘Songwriting Camps in the 21st Century’ (SC21) (, as well as of several externally funded post-doctoral fellowships.

Besides his interests in the practical aspects of music production and technology, he is deeply engaged in research. He has published more than 80 books, articles, chapters, and encyclopaedia articles and regularly presents research papers in various countries. His published work focuses on the areas of popular music studies (in particular rock/metal music studies), music business and industries studies, the art of record production, and music technology. 

Jan is a member of several international editorial boards for journals (IASPM Journal, Metal Music Studies, Samples) and book series (Beiträge zur Popularmusikforschung, texte zur populären musik by the German Society for Popular Music) and is editor of the Companion series of Cambridge University Press. Jan is a regular peer-reviewer of leading music journals, including Psychology of Music, Metal Music Studies, Rock Music Studies, IASPM Journal, and Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and reviewer of Routledge’s 'Perspectives on Music Production' book series. He also serves as Treasurer on the IASPM UK & I executive committee.

Jan has taught popular music studies, music production, music analysis, empirical musicology, music history, and music theory as Guest Lecturer, Lecturer, and Interim Professor at the Universities of Paderborn, Bielefeld, Detmold, Muenster, and Lueneburg (all in Germany) and Berne (Switzerland). As a professional guitarist, he was also a Lecturer in Guitar Performance (2006-2012) at a music institute and Head of Music at a vocational college (2012-2015).


Research Expertise and Interests

Jan works in various areas of popular music studies, music analysis, systematic musicology, and the art of record production. Previous and current research includes:


(2025): Heaviness in Metal Music Production: How and Why It Works (with Mark Mynett; Routledge, forthcoming)

(2024): Popular Music Songwriting as Cultural, Creative, and Economic Practice (with Michael Ahlers and Knut Holtstraeter; Waxmann, forthcoming)

(2024): The Cambridge Companion to the Electric Guitar (with Steve Waksman; forthcoming)

(2023): The Cambridge Companion to Metal Music. Link to publisher/book information

(2023): Rock Guitar Virtuosos: Advances in Electric Guitar Playing, Technology and Culture (with Alexander Vallejo; forthcoming). Link to publisher/book information

(2022): Rammstein's 'Deutschland'. Pop, Politics, Provocation [translation]. Link to publisher/book information

(2021): Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Consumption of Instruments and Technology in Popular Music. Link to publisher/book information

(2016): The Guitar Distortion in Rock Music. A Study on Playability and Aesthetics [translation]. Link to publisher/book information

(2014): Network Sound. An Educational Challenge of Popular Music [translation]. Link to publisher/book information


Other projects

• The role(s) of the music producer

• The work realities of professional session musicians

• Heaviness in metal music production

• Music on the blockchain (Web 3)

• Music business and industries studies

• Teutonic metal and cultural sonic signifiers in music production

• Guitar virtuosity and ‘shredding’

• Rock and metal guitar riffs

• Production of the rock and metal guitar sound

• Musicians’ usage of and opinions on musical equipment

• Gear acquisition syndrome

• Guitar amplification technologies

• History of popular music

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Metal Music in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1980s and 1990s: Record Production, Industry, and Heritage

Award Date: 1 Dec 2023

Master, Distortion as a “Revolution” in Rock Music’s Guitar Playing: An Experimental and Analytical Study on the Effect of Distortion on Playing Technique, Phrasing and Composition, University of Paderborn

Award Date: 16 Jan 2016

PhD, Network Sound: An Educational Challenge of Popular Music, University of Paderborn

Award Date: 2 May 2014

Master, The Computer as a Tool for Activity-Oriented Music Education, University of Paderborn

Award Date: 4 May 2011

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Popular Music Studies
  • Metal Music Studies
  • Art of Record Production
  • Music Production
  • Music Technology
  • Music Analysis
  • Musicology
  • Empirical Research
  • Guitar


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