Music Business 101

Author: Lauren Davis | Course Code: OMBUS-110

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The business of music is a global multi-billion dollar industry comprised of a relatively small amount of individuals creating the music, and a whole lot of people doing everything else: working at labels, distribution companies, publishing companies, recording studios, artist management, promotion, producing, and legal counsel. If you are looking to further your career in the business end of the music industry, you cannot be successful without first understanding the entire industry as a whole. Music Business 101 presents a broad overview of the recording and music industry, and explains how the various segments operate on a day-to-day basis: where monies are generated, who the key players are, how deals are made and broken, how to protect your interests, and new developments in digital technology that are changing the way that music is marketed, promoted, distributed, and heard. This course presents the career opportunities that are available within the industry, and the knowledge you'll need to achieve your goals.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Understand the structure of, and relationship between, the recording, music publishing, marketing and live performance industries.
  • Learn about different career and income opportunities, and develop a strategy to break in and succeed in the music industry.
  • Understand the business aspects involved in producing, manufacturing, marketing, and distributing records.

Lesson 1: Finding the Right Label

A Quick History of Majors and IndiesWhat Is a Major Label?What Is a Subsidiary Label?What Is an Independent Label?

Lesson 2: Picking the Right Deal

Looking at the Artist/A&R RelationshipThe Production DealLabel DealsJoint VenturesPressing and Distribution DealsCross CollateralizationForeign Licensing

Lesson 3: Protecting Your Interests

Resources and AssociationsForming Your BusinessTaking Care of the Band's BusinessWhen Your Name Is Your BusinessRegistering a NameProtecting Your Work

Lesson 4: Signing the Deal

How Long?Who Owns the Record?Generating Royalty Streams: How Labels and Artists Protect their EarningsRoyalties

Lesson 5: Reasons That Record Deals Get Broken

When the Artist is Under Eighteen Years OldThe Seven-Year Rule and YouThe Keyman ClauseDeclaring BankruptcyJust Walk AwayWhen the Contract Amounts to a Restraint of Trade

Lesson 6: Making the Record

Determining Your BudgetChoosing the StudioChoosing the Producer and EngineerMastering

Lesson 7: Preparing for Your Record Release

Getting Your Paperwork in Order: The Mechanical LicenseGetting Your Permissions Together: SamplingPreparing for ManufactureCreating the Cover: Artwork, Graphic Design, or Photograph?Getting Your Information TogetherGetting Your UPC Bar CodeChoosing Your Format and ConfigurationPicking Your ManufacturerPreparing Your MarketArtist's MerchandiseGetting Airplay

Lesson 8: Building a Market

Overview of the Major Label Marketing ProcessRadioGetting PublicityTouringGetting Your Record into StoresFinding a DistributorPreparing the One-SheetWorking out the Deal

Lesson 9: Managing Your Career

Putting Together the Artist TeamThe Varied Roles of an Artist ManagerThe Manager's ResponsibilitiesSigning a Management AgreementThe Road ManagerBusiness ManagersAttorneysBooking AgentsIndependent Contractor vs. EmployeeSigning an Employment Agreement

Lesson 10: To Self-Publish or Not?

Background on Music PublishingDifferent Sources of Music Publishing RoyaltiesThe Publishing DealDifferent Types of Publishing DealsTypes of Publishing IncomeIs Self-Publishing Right for You?

Lesson 11: Licensing Music: Opening New Doors

Using Music in Film, Television, and Other MediaVideo GamesMusic on Your Phone

Lesson 12: What's Next?

Entertainment Marketing: A New Approach to Selling RecordsRecord Labels Redefining ThemselvesRoyalty AdministrationThinking Outside the Box: Starbuck's CoffeeMusic Publishers Working Out a Solution

Lauren Davis


As an accomplished music business attorney, Lauren B. Davis knows the music business inside and out. Davis has been in private practice since 1992, advising high-level recording artists, songwriters, music industry executives, record producers, managers, and music publishing companies. Before starting her own law firm, she worked as a Senior Associate for the law firm of Steven J. Massarsky, P.C., with a client list that included the Allman Brothers, the Psychedelic Furs, and Tim Collins (Manager of Aerosmith), as well as Nintendo of America Inc., among others.

With offices located on New York's 5th Avenue, she is situated at the heartbeat of the bustling New York scene, with labels like EMI, Blue Note, Jive, and Zomba just steps away—a proximity to the music industry that she was accustomed to throughout her life. The daughter of a record executive, Lauren Davis has a knowledge of the music industry that runs deep, with the lessons of Billboard Charts—and the importance of business sense and hard work in the music industry—being instilled in her at a very young age.

Today, in addition to maintaining a "who's who" roster of music industry clients, Davis has been actively teaching business-related courses about the music industry since 1996 at New York University (Tisch School of the Arts), Metropolitan College of New York, and Monmouth University. Widely recognized as an expert on the industry, she is a frequent lecturer, and has been an invited guest to speak at ASCAP in New York City, South by Southwest in Austin, the Winter Music Conference in Miami, and at Berklee College of Music.

Ms. Davis graduated from New York University in 1985 with a B.F.A and received her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1988.

David Purcell


David Purcell, Esq., is the founder and president of Music Royalty Solutions, a business management firm specializing in business management and financial solutions for independent recording, performing, and songwriting artists, as well as independent companies and startups in the entertainment industry. He works as a business and legal affairs consultant for such clients as Roadrunner Records and Robot of the Century Music Publishing.

In addition to teaching with Berklee Online, Purcell is the assistant program director of music business at New York University and runs the summer Music Business Institute, "What Makes A Star." Courses he has taught on both the undergraduate and graduate levels include Landmark Cases in Music Copyright Law, Business Structure of the Music Industry, Economic and Legal Settings of the Music Industry, Village Records (an NYU student-run recorded music label), Village Records Leadership section, Music Industry Internship Supervision, and Managing the Performing Artist.

As a professional drummer and percussionist, Purcell has extensive performance experience both in the U.S. and internationally and has performed and/or recorded with Jesse Malin, Ashford and Simpson, Tom Wopat, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Jody Watley, Neil Patrick Harris, Mink Stole, Princess Superstar, John Cameron Mitchell, Ian Astbury (The Cult), The Rocky Horror Show, Phantom of the Opera, and The Great American Trailer Park Musical. He is a proud graduate of Berklee College of Music and The University of Wisconsin Law School.

John Kellogg


John P. Kellogg, Esq., is Assistant Chair of the Music Business/Management department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and an entertainment attorney. Licensed to practice in the states of New York and Ohio, he has represented recording artists Levert, The O'Jays, Eddie Levert, Sr., LSG, Stat Quo of Shady/Aftermath Records, and G-Dep of Bad Boy Records. He also serves as a member of the management team for the late R&B recording star Gerald Levert, whom he represented throughout his career. Kellogg is President-Elect and a member of the Board of Directors of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA), in addition to being a former board member of the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyer's Association (BESLA) and a 2005 inductee into the BESLA Hall of Fame. He is the author of the book Take Care of Your Music Business: The Legal and Business Aspects You Need to Know to Grow In the Music Business, as well as numerous legal articles and editorials. A former vocalist with the group Cameo, Kellogg has been profiled in Billboard, Ebony, Black Issues, and In the Black magazines. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University, where he also attended the Weatherhead School of Management. In addition, he holds a Master of Science degree in Television and Radio from the Newhouse School of Communications and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science—both from Syracuse University.

All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman

An entertainment lawyer whose clients include many from the top of the music charts, Passman has written a book that sets out to give musicians, performers, and songwriters the tools to hire advisers, market their careers, protect their creative works, and generally cope with a complex industry in a state of flux. Passman explains boilerplate language, the complexities of royalties and advances, and label and distribution deals; a section on record deals begins with an overview of the business and works through all the steps. The "Adventures in Cyberspace" chapter is a helpful summary of the way CD-ROMs and the Internet are affecting the business. Included here is information on recent legislation and a look at how digitizing music delivery will continue to change things. Packed with illustrations, sample calculations, and definitions, All You Need To Know is humorous and accessible enough for those who just want to understand the business while being detailed and documented enough for those who make a living from it.

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  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

Summer Term Starts June 30 for Courses and Multi-Course Certificates

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