Music Business Policy


Authored by Casey Rae


Course Code: OMBUS-664

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Music policy determines what is possible in the evolving global marketplace for music. It is no longer enough to learn the nuts and bolts of the business; long-term sustainability also requires a working knowledge of the laws and regulations around the world. The goal of this course is to expand your knowledge base around policy and cultivate leadership to help solve persistent problems in the global music industry. The course demystifies complex topics and inspires confidence to engage in these important issues. Music policy has a direct impact on the paychecks of working artists and entrepreneurs, and seizing opportunities means taking a proactive role in the debates that are shaping the future of creativity and commerce. In addition to understanding the systems and structures that govern music, you will learn real-world strategies via case studies featuring musicians such as My Morning Jacket, R.E.M., OK Go, and more. By the end of the course, you will recognize how creators, technology, and fan communities can work together to effect positive change. More importantly, you will be able to use this knowledge to make a difference in your own communities all the way up to the international policy arena. 

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Make decisions based on an understanding of how federal, state, and municipal policy shapes the music ecosystem from the local to the global
  • Analyze the challenges to devising and implementing music policy and opportunities to evolve the global framework for music entrepreneurship
  • Identify the zones where policy intersects with music: copyright, digital distribution, telecommunications, broadcast, live performance, and urban development
  • Analyze the primary stakeholders in music policy, including their historic emphasis and situational leverage, in current debates on issues such as copyright reform, access to audiences, participatory economics, and competition
  • Explain how bills are drafted, introduced, and passed
  • Debate copyright reform from the position of recognizing the basic history of how this specific body of law established the framework for every business directly or indirectly involved with recorded music
  • Evaluate how public policy provides for differing levels of equity for artists
  • Explain the different standards for setting statutory rates for the use of sound recordings, the rationale behind each, and the practical ramifications regarding modification
  • Explore how new tech developments, such as the blockchain, may reduce the necessity for policy intervention, and evaluate where policy guidance may still be required
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Introduction to Music Policy

  • What Is Music Policy, Anyway?
  • Recorded, Broadcast, and Live Music
  • How We Got Here: A Brief History of Federal Policy and Music
  • Making Change in Music Policy
  • Assignment 1: Policy Analysis

Lesson 2: Music as a Special Interest

  • Government Branches and Music Policy
  • Trade Industry Associations
  • How Music Policy Gets Made
  • Stakeholder Bingo: Interested Parties and Agendas
  • Assignment 2: Profile a Stakeholder in Contemporary Music Policy Debates

Lesson 3: Schoolhouse Rock!

  • How Policy Is Constructed
  • The Federal Agencies
  • Music Policy Case Study: Low-Power FM Radio
  • Leverage: Who Has It, and How They Got It
  • Assignment 3: Determine What Agency to Petition

Lesson 4: Recorded Music Policy

  • Copyright and the Music Industry: An Awkward Evolution
  • It’s Not Just Labels vs. Technology
  • Policy Response (and Non-Response) to Technological Disruption
  • Legacy Frameworks vs. Policy Reinvention
  • Music Policy Case Study: The Digital Public Performance Right for Sound Recordings
  • Assignment 4: Describe an Ideal Policy Framework for Sound Recordings

Lesson 5: Recording Artist/Label Challenges and Opportunities

  • Music Licensing and the Quest for Parity
  • Music Policy Case Study: The Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA)
  • Rate-Setting Standards for Sound Recordings
  • The Problem of Global Harmonization
  • Policy Pain Points
  • Assignment 5: Problem/Solution

Lesson 6: Songwriter/Publisher Challenges and Opportunities

  • The History of PRO Consent Decrees
  • The Morass of Mechanicals and Rate-Setting Standards
  • Rate-Setting Standards for Musical Works: Which Works Best, and for Whom?
  • Direct vs. Statutory Licenses for Publishers and Songwriters
  • Assignment 6: Royalty and Licensing Policy Solution

Lesson 7: Music Policy and Digital Distribution

  • The Development of Online Music
  • Net Neutrality and Music Entrepreneurs
  • Access as Business Model
  • Assignment 7: Music Application or Digital Storefront and the Policy Framework

Lesson 8: Rights Enforcement in the Digital Age

  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Internet Safe Harbors, Part II
  • Lessons Learned from the Failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
  • Voluntary Agreements as Alternatives to Legislation
  • Assignment 8: Three Anti-Piracy Proposals

Lesson 9: The Quest for Industry Transparency

  • The Three Types of Music Transparency
  • Transparency as a Political Problem
  • Copyright Ownership Databases: Practical Necessity or Industry Fantasy?
  • Emerging Technologies for Data Transparency
  • Assignment 9: Music Rights Database

Lesson 10: Radio and Broadcast Policy

  • Radio and Music: From The Greatest Love of All to Heartbreak Hotel
  • Music Policy Gone Haywire: Commercial Radio Ownership Consolidation
  • Payola: Pernicious, Pervasive, and Problematic
  • Public, Noncommercial, and Low-Power FM Radio
  • Assignment 10: Radio Policy Framework

Lesson 11: All Politics Are Local

  • Local Music Communities: Key Players
  • Local Music Communities: Cultural Infrastructure
  • Government Arts Agencies and Music Communities
  • Music and Civic Engagement: Strategies and Solutions
  • Assignment 11: Plan of an Artist Collective, Global Music Policy

Lesson 12: All Politics Are Global

  • How US Federal Policy Shapes the Global Music Industry
  • International Treaties and Agreements
  • Incompatible Legal Frameworks
  • Harmonizing Global Music


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Business Revenue Streams and Music Business Law or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.


Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Casey Rae


Casey Rae is Director of Music Licensing at SiriusXM satellite radio, a service with more than 40 million listeners in the United States. He is responsible for the direct licensing of repertoire for transmission across 150 channels, overseeing metadata, royalties, and performance. Casey was previously CEO of the Future of Music Coalition, a Washington, DC-based education and advocacy organization for musicians and composers. He is also a musician, recording engineer, professor, and author. He regularly speaks on issues such as emerging business models, creators' rights, technology policy, and intellectual property at worldwide conferences, universities, and in the media. He has testified before Congress on copyright and has written hundreds of articles on the impact of technology on the creative community in scholarly journals and other publications. Casey is an in-demand commentator in media outlets such as NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, Billboard, L.A. Times, CNBC, and more. Casey is a member of the faculty at Georgetown University and Berklee Online, and serves as board President for the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. In his “spare time,” he runs the DC-based label Lux Eterna Records.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Music Business Policy can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:

Related Degree Majors


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