Understanding the Music Business: What is Music Worth?

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About this course: This course will examine the music industry in the United States, with the unique perspective gained by Vanderbilt University’s location in Nashville, TN. Nashville is a major center of music in the United States, and the music created here has a global reach, particularly in the country, rock, pop, singer-songwriter, and Americana genres. However, students will learn that the basic principles of recording, marketing, copyright, licensing, and live performance are the same, regardless of musical style or genre. The music business is one of the most rapidly changing industries in the US today. It is also an industry filled with contradiction, and media headlines and an…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: This course will examine the music industry in the United States, with the unique perspective gained by Vanderbilt University’s location in Nashville, TN. Nashville is a major center of music in the United States, and the music created here has a global reach, particularly in the country, rock, pop, singer-songwriter, and Americana genres. However, students will learn that the basic principles of recording, marketing, copyright, licensing, and live performance are the same, regardless of musical style or genre. The music business is one of the most rapidly changing industries in the US today. It is also an industry filled with contradiction, and media headlines and anecdotal stories often add to the confusion. Here are just a few statements paraphrased from recent news stories: * The music business has collapsed * Demand for music is expanding at the greatest rate in history * Historic recording studios are closing at an alarming rate * More people are making recordings than ever before * Musicians usually lose money touring * Musicians usually make money touring * Major artist pulls songs off streaming services because they don’t pay fairly * Major artist makes a fortune from streaming services * People won’t buy records anymore * Vinyl record sales are soaring This course will attempt to make sense of these seemingly contradictory trends and data, outline the basic structure and mechanisms of today’s music industry, and encourage students to think critically and entrepreneurially about the future of music. Leaders from various areas of the music business will lend their perspectives through in-depth interviews, and footage from a recording session will give learners a behind the scenes look at how a song goes from the spark of an idea hummed into a cell phone to a finished recording. Participants will grapple with questions about art and commerce which are both timeless and crucially important today, and will emerge from this course with tools allowing them to make more informed decisions as creators, promoters, and consumers of music. Course launches February 19, 2016.

Created by:  Vanderbilt University
  • Taught by:  Jen Gunderman, Assistant Professor of Musicology

    Blair School of Music
Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.5 stars Average User Rating 4.5See what learners said Coursework

Each course is like an interactive textbook, featuring pre-recorded videos, quizzes and projects.

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Vanderbilt University Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tenn., is a private research university and medical center offering a full-range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


Recording & Record Labels, Part 1



Part 1 of this module will cover the basics of audio recording. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of home vs. studio recording, hear perspectives from both home and professional studio owners, and learn about different jobs and roles in recording environments. Finally, you will watch the evolution of the theme song for our course, starting with a rough demo sung into a phone recording app, and following through to the end of the recording session with professional musicians in Nashville.


9 videos expand


  1. Video: Introduction
  2. Video: Home Recording
  3. Video: Interview: Dave Coleman
  4. Video: Professional Studio Recording
  5. Video: Interview: John McBride
  6. Video: A Walk Through Blackbird Studio
  7. Video: Studio Jobs & Roles
  8. Video: Home vs Studio
  9. Video: Evolution of a Song Recording
  10. Discussion Prompt: The recording process

Graded: Module 1, Part 1 Quiz

WEEK 2


Recording & Record Labels, Part 2



Week 2 of the Recording & Record Labels module considers questions about education and the music business (and includes an interview with a music school dean), reviews the history of audio formats with an on-location visit to a popular music archive, and outlines the differences between major and independent record labels. At the end of this module, you will be asked to think about the current state of the recording industry, and consider questions about the value of recorded music in a rapidly shifting environment. What is a recording worth?


9 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Music Education Programs
  2. Video: Interview: Mark Wait
  3. Video: A History of Audio Formats
  4. Video: Hands On with Audio Formats
  5. Video: A Performance & Cylinder Recording: Greg Reish
  6. Video: Major Record Labels
  7. Video: Independent Record Labels
  8. Video: Current State of the Recording Industry
  9. Video: Conclusion: What's a Recording Worth?
  10. Reading: Module 1 Recommended Reading
  11. Discussion Prompt: Music School Curricula
  12. Discussion Prompt: The "vinyl resurgence"

Graded: Module 1, Part 2 Quiz

WEEK 3


Copyright & Publishing



In this module, learners will wade into the complicated world of music copyright and publishing. Interviews with an executive from a performing rights organization and another music school dean with a background in publishing and intellectual property rights will help to decipher the world of publishing- and sound recording-related royalties and the question of public domain. The question of fair payment to songwriters is one of the most hotly contested issues in the music industry today, and you will think critically about how value is assigned to compositions in different media environments. What is a song worth?


13 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Introduction
  2. Video: Basic Principles of Copyright
  3. Video: PROs
  4. Video: Interview: Alison Smith
  5. Video: International Royalties
  6. Video: Publishing Royalties
  7. Video: Sound Recording Rights
  8. Video: Music Composition Rights
  9. Video: Public Domain
  10. Video: Elvis, The Songwriter
  11. Video: Interview: Doug Howard
  12. Video: Changes on the Horizon: New US Copyright Recommendations
  13. Video: Conclusion: What's a Song Worth?
  14. Reading: Module 2: Recommended Reading
  15. Discussion Prompt: Royalty rates on streaming services
  16. Discussion Prompt: Copyright around the world

Graded: Module 2 Quiz

WEEK 4


Media



The subjects in this segment – PR, publicity, marketing, social media, radio, and streaming services – could all come under the heading “Getting The Word Out”, or “Cutting Through The Noise.” You will learn how innovations in technology are changing the means by which audiences connect with music, and you will consider the ways that innovation causes controversy within the music industry, as old boundaries are challenged. You will hear about jobs and roles related to media and music. Interviews with a radio station owner and a communications school dean will highlight the important issues and shifts happening in this field.


8 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Introduction
  2. Video: PR & Publicists
  3. Video: Social Media
  4. Video: Terrestrial Radio
  5. Video: Interview: Tony Richards
  6. Video: Streaming & Internet Radio
  7. Video: Interview: Ken Paulson
  8. Video: Conclusion: Cutting Through the Noise
  9. Reading: Module 3: Recommended Reading
  10. Discussion Prompt: How does the so called "black box" affect the music we hear?
  11. Discussion Prompt: Social Media

Graded: Module 3 Quiz

WEEK 5


Live Performance



Live performance has become a crucial component of many musicians’ careers in an era when many traditional income streams for musicians are shrinking. This module will take a look at the team of people who work with an artist doing strategy and planning (i.e., managers and agents) and people who travel with the artist on the road. You will also consider live music from the point of view of venue owners, concert promoters, and talent buyers, and interviews with a road manager and a club owner will guide your perspective about the current world of live music. What is a concert ticket worth?


18 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Introduction
  2. Video: Managers
  3. Video: Lawyers
  4. Video: Booking Agents
  5. Video: Side Musicians
  6. Video: Starting Life On the Road
  7. Video: Tour Managers
  8. Video: Sound Engineers
  9. Video: Anthony's Tour of FOH
  10. Video: Anthony's Tour of Monitor World
  11. Video: Instrument Technicians
  12. Video: Stage Production
  13. Video: Merchandise
  14. Video: Interview: Anthony Aquilato
  15. Video: Concert Promotion & Talent Buyers
  16. Video: Interview: Todd Ohlhauser
  17. Video: Entrepreneurial Thinking in Live Performance
  18. Video: Conclusion: What's a Concert Ticket Worth?
  19. Reading: Module 4: Recommended Reading
  20. Discussion Prompt: Entrepreneurial Concert Promotion
  21. Discussion Prompt: What’s a concert ticket worth?

Graded: Module 4 Quiz

WEEK 6


New Models, Trends & Strategies



Upheaval in many sectors of the music industry – much of it brought by the digital revolution – has led innovative people on both the business and artistic sides of the industry to do business in new ways. You will learn about opportunities for entrepreneurialism that come with technological advances; you will think critically about the controversies that arise when traditional businesses must redefine their relationships with artists; and you will hear from a business owner who has succeeded by questioning old boundaries and focusing on artist services. You will wrap up your engagement with the course by considering some larger ethical questions and asking yourself what you can do to support a healthy music ecosystem.


11 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: Introduction
  2. Video: The Entrepreneurial Musician
  3. Video: Fan-Funded Recording
  4. Video: Criticism of the DIY Approach
  5. Video: New Business Models
  6. Video: Interview: David Macias
  7. Video: 360 Deals
  8. Video: Sync Licensing
  9. Video: Music & Big Data
  10. Video: Interview: David Pomeroy
  11. Video: Ethics & Controversies
  12. Reading: Module 5: Recommended Reading
  13. Discussion Prompt: Where are we now, and where are we going?
  14. Discussion Prompt: What is a recording worth?
  15. Discussion Prompt: What is a song worth?
  16. Discussion Prompt: What is a concert ticket worth?

Graded: Module 5 Quiz

WEEK 7


Wrapping Up
Wrapping up discussions, quizzes, and final breaking news analysis


2 items expand


  1. Discussion Prompt: Supporting music in your community

Graded: Thinking Critically About Music Industry News
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