Online Master's Degree Course

Music Business Research Methods


Authored by Robert Lagueux


Course Code: OMBUS-690

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

All Master of Arts in Music Business students complete a culminating experience or thesis project. This experience is meant to be exactly as named: the culmination of your work in the program, the experience through which you synthesize all you have learned. The culminating experience helps to shape your next steps in the music industry and in your career. In short, the culminating experience provides an opportunity for you to complete unique and original professional work. Through the culminating experience, you make a creative contribution to and/or define and solve a problem that exists in the profession. This contribution may take the form of a research project, a creative project, a practical project, and/or another project of your devising. Regardless of the form that the culminating experience takes—whether creative, research-focused, or practical in nature—the culminating experience represents the highest expression of students’ learning at the graduate level.

Read More

You will begin this experience with a written proposal. This course supports and guides you through the process of developing this proposal. The proposal describes your intentions regarding the culminating experience, discussing the form the project will take, as well as the scope of work. You will also identify the resources needed and develop a plan of action and timeline. Additionally, you will learn how to frame and evaluate inquiries using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods: You will learn about different research methodologies, including interviews, observational methods, surveys, reflexive methods, case studies, analytical methods, and more. You will also learn which research requires additional ethical approvals, such as from Berklee’s Institutional Review Board. And, perhaps most importantly, you will learn how to align your culminating experience projects with your career goals. 

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Write your culminating experience proposal in the format and style appropriate for your project and submit the proposal for approval by the course faculty member and faculty advisor
  • Determine the scope of work you will master in your culminating experience
  • Develop a plan of action and timeline for the culminating experience, as well as identify and develop a plan to attain resources needed
  • Evaluate statistical approaches and results
  • Evaluate the credibility and ethics of research conclusions 
Read Less
Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Preparing for the Culminating Experience

  • Requirements and Components of the Culminating Experience
  • What Is a Culminating Experience?
  • Types of Culminating Experience Projects
  • Matching Goals with Culminating Experience Topics and Formats
  • The Importance of Independent Learning
  • Assignment 1: Identify Two Interesting Culminating Experiences from the Berklee Archives

Lesson 2: Devising a Topic for the Culminating Experience

  • The Culminating Experience Proposal, Piece By Piece
  • What Is Research?
  • Devising Possible Topics
  • Turning Topics into Questions
  • Assignment 2: Identify Three Possible Topics for Your Project, and Create Pitches

Lesson 3: Choosing Your Topic/Formulating Your Thesis Abstract

  • Assessing Project Feasibility with Two Essential Questions
  • Evaluating Your Research Questions
  • Narrowing Down Your Topic: Summaries and Pitches
  • Crafting and Refining a Thesis Statement
  • Crafting an Abstract
  • Assignment 3: Write a Thesis Abstract

Lesson 4: The Literature Review

  • Defining a Literature Review
  • Finding and Evaluating Sources
  • Strategies for Reading and Summarizing
  • Bibliographic Control
  • The Basics of Formatting
  • Assignment 4: Begin the Literature Review for Culminating Experience

Lesson 5: Using Sources and Planning Your Project

  • Acknowledging Your Sources
  • Strategies for Your Research Process
  • Using Citation Management Software
  • Project Management: An Interview with Jonathan Feist
  • Planning a Project and Managing Your Time
  • Assignment 5: Develop a Timeline, Using Key Milestones

Lesson 6: Overview of Research Methodology

  • Ways of Reasoning
  • Research Design and Research Paradigms
  • An Overview of Research Designs
  • Quantitative Research Design
  • Qualitative Research Design
  • Mixed Methods Research Design
  • Assignment 6: Draft the Methods Plan for Culminating Experience

Lesson 7: Qualitative Research Methods

  • Choosing a Research Strategy
  • Individual Interviews and Focus Groups
  • Group Interviews and Focus Groups
  • Transcribing and Memoing Interview Data
  • Coding Qualitative Data
  • Analyzing the Data
  • Content Analysis and Archival/Documentary Research
  • Case Studies
  • Sampling and Non-Probability Sampling
  • Assignment 7: Write a Draft of Your Methods Section

Lesson 8: Quantitative Research Methods

  • Getting Started with Surveys
  • What’s the Question?
  • Types of Questions
  • Question Wording
  • Question Flow and Order
  • Respondent Behaviors
  • Piloting the Survey
  • Validity and Reliability
  • Probability Sampling
  • Sample Size
  • Response Rate
  • Assignment 8: Write a Draft of Your Methods Section

Lesson 9: Working with People: Research Ethics and Advisors

  • Completing the Literature Review
  • Selecting an Advisor/The Advising Process
  • Forging and Maintaining Relationships
  • Research Ethics
  • Institutional Review Board
  • Ethical Considerations with Negotiating Access
  • Ethical Considerations with Data Collection
  • The Berklee Archives
  • Assignment 9: Complete your Literature Review and Reference List

Lesson 10: Analyzing, Reporting, and Exploring Data

  • Carrying out Research
  • Data Analysis
  • Interpreting Graphs and Charts 
  • Beyond Graphs and Charts
  • Improving Data Visualization
  • Assignment 10: Outline Your Visualizations

Lesson 11: Writing, Getting Feedback, and Revising

  • Review Proposal Format
  • The Writing Process
  • Receiving and Responding to Feedback
  • The Revision Process
  • Assignment 11: Complete Proposal Draft

Lesson 12: The Right Kind of Fear: Creativity, Failure, and Innovation

  • Creativity
  • Leadership Style
  • Learning from Fear, Failure, and Recovery
  • Reflection 
  • Assignment 12: Reflection Essay, and What's Next


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Completion of Music Business Revenue Streams, The Business of Music Marketing, and Data Analytics in the Music Business 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


Robert Lagueux


Robert Lagueux is Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies, and founding Dean for Faculty Development at Berklee College of Music. He oversees Berklee's graduate-level degree programs as well as the creation of learning and development opportunities for faculty at all of Berklee's campuses, as well as for instructors at Berklee’s international partner schools. He has worked with faculty to enhance teaching and learning at the University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Northeastern University. As a Fulbright Scholar at City University of Hong Kong, he spent a year developing programs to support general education and leading teaching workshops throughout Southeast Asia.

Read More

Lagueux is a music historian who has published and presented on topics as diverse as Leonard Bernstein and the medieval celebration of Christmas. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Read Less

Alicia Bower


Alicia Bower is an associate professor of psychology in the Liberal Arts & Sciences department at Berklee where she teaches general, developmental, and positive psychology courses. She has a PhD in psychology, and has conducted research focusing on child and adolescent engagement in physical and relational aggression, with an emphasis on how increasingly digitized peer interactions offer new opportunities for aggression. She has also investigated parental reinforcement responses to children’s positive social interactions, as well as the beneficial outcomes of including contemplative practices within the classroom. Recently, she has focused on the effects of large-scale social movements as these result in cultural and individual change.

Read More

In the last ten years, Alicia has received multiple awards for her scholarship, and has been invited to share her research at local, regional, national, and international conferences. Her recent article, What Parents Do When Children Are Good: Parent Reports of Strategies for Reinforcing Early Childhood Prosocial Behaviors, utilizes qualitative and quantitative methods to catalogue previously unrecognized strategies that parents utilize to respond to their children’s prosocial behaviors. This work was published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, and currently has over 700 views.

In addition to her scientific investigation, Alicia has spent the last twenty years creating a wide variety of musical styles and exploring different soundscapes utilizing her voice, as well as vintage and newer synth instruments, looping stations, drum machines, samplers, and incorporating traditional instruments like keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, accordions, drums, etc. Now that she has the opportunity to work with the faculty, staff, and students at Berklee, Alicia is exploring ways to blend musical composition in the digital age with her positive psychological orientation to create spaces that encourage introspection and individual exploration of how the multiple aspects of the human experience are influenced by contextual factors. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at