Three main approaches to the analysis of popular music audiences – or consumers – have emerged since the post-1950s expansion of the music industry in Britain. First, there is an approach that understands music audiences as subcultures or club cultures that oppose a dominant, mainstream culture. A second approach has taken a different view of popular music consumption as a feature of everyday practices and localized experiences. Third and more recently, a media studies approach has emerged in the light of technological developments in popular music production, distribution and consumption. The three approaches are distinct but share some common concerns, so they should not be regarded as entirely separate fields of inquiry. I will compare and contrast these three approaches, and consider how they map on to contemporary cultural trends in British popular music.