Music Business Research Methods


Authored by Robert Lagueux


Course Code: OMBUS-690

Next Term Starts September 24

3-Credit, Graduate Level Course

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.

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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 
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Preparing for the Culminating Experience

  • What Is the Culminating Experience?: An Overview
  • Types of Culminating Experience Projects
  • Explore Career Goals to Help Define Culminating Experience
  • Compare and Contrast Independent Learning with Course Learning
  • Assignment 1: Complete an Essay/Assessment on Career Goals, Explore Berklee Archives to Review Past Culminating Experience Projects, and Identify Two of Interest

Lesson 2: The Requirements of the Culminating Experience Proposal/Exploring Topics

  • Culminating Experience Proposal
  • Identifying a Problem Worth Solving: Finding a Topic
  • Turning Topics and Problems into Research Questions and Hypotheses
  • Using Principles of the Scientific Method
  • Pitches and Elevator Speeches
  • Assignment 2: Identify Three Possible Topics for Your Project, and Create Pitches

Lesson 3: Choosing Your Topic/Formulating Your Thesis Abstract

  • Narrow Down Your Topic
  • Assess the Scope of the Project
  • Refine the Thesis Statement
  • Develop Your Thesis Abstract
  • Assignment 3: Write a Thesis Abstract

Lesson 4: The Literature Review

  • Defining a Literature Review
  • Finding and Evaluating Sources
  • Reading Business Journals, Case Studies, and Other Research
  • Compile a Reference List/Formatting
  • Plagiarism and How to Avoid It
  • Assignment 4: Begin the Literature Review for Culminating Experience

Lesson 5: Planning a Long-Term Project

  • Project Planning: A Step by Step Guide
  • Project Planning Tools
  • Assess Readiness for the Project
  • Time Management
  • Assignment 5: Develop a Timeline, Using Key Milestones

Lesson 6: Research Methods

  • Quantitative Research/Statistics
  • Qualitative Research
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Artistic or Creative Research
  • Data Recording Procedures
  • Assignment 6: Draft the Methods Plan for Culminating Experience

Lesson 7: More Research Methods

  • Interviews and Focus Groups
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Case Studies
  • Market Research
  • Sampling, Experimenting, Pilot Testing
  • Assignment 7: Revise the Methods Plan for Culminating Experience, Draft an Introduction and Purpose Statement for Your Proposal

Lesson 8: Research Ethics/Selecting Culminating Experience Committee Members

  • Select Your Committee/Find Potential Experts
  • Work with a Committee and Advisors
  • Research and Ethics
  • Institutional Review Board
  • Library Archives
  • Assignment 8: Establish Your Committee, Share Committee Documents

Lesson 9: Gathering, Analyzing, and Reporting Data 

  • Literature Review
  • Carry out Your Research
  • Interpreting Graphs and Charts
  • Data Visualization and Infographics
  • Assignment 9: Complete your Literature Review and Reference List

Lesson 10: Completing the Proposal/Presenting the Proposal

  • Review Proposal Format
  • The Writing Process
  • Formatting Requirements
  • Presentation Skills and Technique
  • Incorporating Slides into Presentations
  • Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety
  • Assignment 10: Complete Proposal Draft

Lesson 11: The Committee Meeting, Revision, and Next Steps

  • Preparing for the First Committee Meeting
  • Feedback
  • The Revision Process
  • Timeline/Work Plan
  • Reflection
  • Assignment 11: Hold Committee Meeting, Summarize Feedback from Committee Members

Lesson 12: Creativity, Innovation, Fear,  Failure, and Recovery

  • Creativity
  • Leadership Style
  • Learn from Fear, Failure, and Recovery
  • Create/Revise Resume, Curriculum Vitae in Alignment with Career Goals
  • Identify Berklee Career Resources


Required Textbooks

Software Requirements

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)



Author & Instructor

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.

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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


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