Music Business Trends and Strategies

Author: Mike King | Course Code: OMBUS-240

This course provides an in depth look at the main structures of the music business, the important changes that are guiding its future, and strategies for creating successful business models. Music Business Trends and Strategies will guide students through the critical areas of the music industry, including publishing and licensing; marketing, promotion, and retail best practices; proper utilization of free music; fan funding and other forms of creative revenue for musicians; current practices for utilizing video, and new business opportunities. By the end of this course, students will have a deep understanding of the pressing issues that all musicians, music industry entrepreneurs, managers, and other music business professionals face in these main segments of the music industry, and how to leverage opportunities that the new business provides.

By the end of this course, you will learn:

  • the impact of technology on record label operations and finances
  • current and developing approaches to copyright
  • the structure, the traditional and emerging partners, and the revenue opportunities available from music publishing
  • marketing ideas and techniques for building up awareness targeted at your specific community
  • players, payment, and pricing models associated with traditional music retail and distribution outlets
  • nuances and best practices associated with the emerging retail and distribution models
  • approaches for utilizing free music
  • best practices and opportunities available with third party video services
  • how musicians are making money, and how to properly prepare and execute on a fan-funded campaign
  • new and evolving technological developments that are driving the overall music industry
  • innovative approaches to building a music-focused business

Lesson 1: Inside the Record Business

Record Industry OverviewMajor Label ConsolidationThe Major Label Approach to Working with ArtistsRecoupable vs. Non-Recoupable ExpensesHow Major Labels are StructuredInterview with Donald Passman on 360 DealsOther Revenue Options for Record CompaniesAlternative Distribution Options with a Major LabelThe Indie Label Approach to Working with ArtistsWhat an Indie Label Can Do for ArtistsState of the Record IndustryThe Causes of the Decline in the Record IndustryRoadmap for Record Labels

Lesson 2: Copyright

Copyright FundamentalsThe Six Exclusive CopyrightsProblems with Traditional CopyrightNew Approaches to Copyright New CopyCreative CommonsCory Doctorow and Creative CommonsFair UsePsy's Subtle Approach to Copyright

Lesson 3: Publishing

Music Publishing OverviewMajor and Independent Music PublishersTypical Publishing DealsTypes of Licenses and Revenue Sources for PublishersMechanical LicenseSynchronization (Sync) LicensePrint LicensePerformance LicenseThe Role of Performing Rights OrganizationsASCAPBMISESACSoundExchangePerformance Royalty Edge Cases

Lesson 4: Marketing

New Approaches to Music MarketingThe Stages of the InternetNiche MarketingDemographic and Psychographic OverviewGeographic DataPsychographic DataExamples of Psychographic Marketing in ActionAlessandro Cortini and Providing Psychographic-Focused ProductsJónsi and Alex and Psychographic Collateral MarketingBuilding a Foundation: Acquisition some similar copy to FOMPrimer for Musicians on Building Up Their Fan baseWeb Optimization on Your Own SiteWeb Optimization on Third-Party Sites/SearchSocialEmailPublic RelationsTouringMaking it Viral: The Science of Sharing

Lesson 5: Traditional Music Retail and Distribution

The Foundations of Traditional Physical Distribution and RetailNotes from Industry ExpertsHow Traditional Physical Distribution and Retail WorksWhat a Physical Distributor DoesThe Finances of a Physical Distribution DealAlternative Options for Developing Artists at Physical RetailThe Putamayo Approach to RetailDiversification and Specialization in Physical Music RetailOnline Distribution and Retail: Structure and ProcessOnline Retail Model-Label InvolvementOnline Retail Model-Independent ModelOnline Distribution OverviewDigital Retail Outlets

Lesson 6: Developing Retail Outlets

Overview of Digital Recorded Music Retail ModelsThe Permanent Digital Download ModelThe Subscription Streaming ModelThe Advertising ModelThe Variable Pricing ModelThe Subscription Streaming ModelThe Past, Present, and Future of the Subscription ModelSteve Jobs on the Subscription ModelThe Subscription Streaming PaymentsPayments to Rights Holders for Non-Interactive Streaming ServicesPayments to Rights Holders for Interactive Streaming ServicesThe Artist's Opinion: Streaming Vs OwnershipThe Utility ModelConsumer and Artist PerspectiveBob Lefsetz and Seth Godin on the Utility Model"Vaulternative" Retail Model

Lesson 7: Utilizing Free

IntroductionThe Foundations of Free: Napster, Labels, and Where it all BeganThe Debate ContinuesThe "Correlation Does Not Imply Causation" PrincipleAnatomy of a Modern Day PirateHow to Utilize Free MusicThe Serialized Approach to Utilizing Free MusicNoiseTradeTopspinCase Study – Billy VanCase Study - Berklee College of MusicCase Study: Wilco

Lesson 8: Video Opportunities and Strategies

An Overview of Video for MusiciansCurrent Video Options for MusiciansThe Social Component of VideoCase Study: Rufus Wainwright a the Participatory Approach to SocialThird-Party Video Options for MusiciansYouTubeLive StreamingInterview with Evan Lowenstein – StageItLive Video Streaming Case Study: Erin McKeown and her Cabin Fever SeriesAdditional Ways to Raise Your Visibility Using VideoVideo Optimization: Musician Case StudiesInterviews: Karmin's Approach to YouTubeNicki Bluhm and the Gramblers Van SessionsData and Tracking Your Video's Success

Lesson 9: The Future of Music Coalition

About the Future of Music Coalition42 Revenue Streams ProjectAbout the Artist Revenue Streams ProjectPopulation of Study/Who was Surveyed?How Was the Data Collected?Research Questions/What was Asked?Artist Revenue Streams Project FindingsRole and RevenueThe Impact of Technology on Musicians' Earning CapabilitiesReportsPolicy Issues for Musicians

Lesson 10: Funding your Project

The Traditional Approach to FundingFunding From a LabelThe Traditional DIY Independent Artist Approach to FundingGrantsSponsorshipsNew Funding OpportunitiesErin McKeown on Her Fan Funding CampaignAmanda Palmer: The Art of Asking Ted TalkFan Funding Service Providers: Kickstarter, PledgeMusic, IndiegogoPledgeMusic Case Study: Rachael Yamagata

Lesson 11: Technology in Music: Music Discovery, Music Marketing, Music Consumption

History of Technology in MusicFacebook, Sharing, and the Social / Open GraphOptimization of Streaming ServicesA Three Point Plan for Using Streaming Technologies for GoodThe Freemium Approach to Building AwarenessStreaming Services: Playlists, Social, and Best Marketing PracticesHardware Integration of Streaming ServicesInterview with Peter Gotcher on the Streaming Approach to Marketing AcquisitionFuture of Music Discovery: Filters and CurationPandoraNolan Gasser on Creating the Music Genome ProjectDrip.FMThe Echo Nest

Lesson 12: Music Entrepreneurship and New Business Opportunities

View from the Top: Roger Brown and Peter GotcherView from the Top: Liz LeahyView from the Top: Peter AlhadeffView from the Top: Tony VanVeenThe Lean Startup Approach to Music BusinessPart 1: Vision, True North, Validated Learning, and the MVPPart 2: Steer-Test, Measure, PivotInnovative Companies in the Music BusinessEyes and EarsMobile RoadieDigSinPledgeMusicNettwerk

Mike King

Author & Instructor

Mike King is a course author, instructor, and the Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Recruitment / Chief Marketing Officer at Berklee Online, the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music. Prior to working at Berklee, Mike was the Marketing/Product Manager at Rykodisc, where he oversaw marketing efforts for label artists including Mickey Hart, Jeb Loy Nichols, Morphine, Jess Klein, Voices On The Verge, Bill Hicks, The Slip, Pork Tornado (Phish), Kelly Joe Phelps, and Frank Zappa's estate. Mike was the Director of Marketing and Managing Editor of Herb Alpert's online musician's resource,, for three years.

Mike has written and teaches four courses for Berklee Online: Online Music Marketing with Topspin; Music Marketing 101; Online Music Marketing: Campaign Strategies, Social Media, and Digital Distribution; and Music Business Trends and Strategies. His book, Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail was published by Berklee Press in 2009. Mike was recognized as the Best Music Business Teacher by the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) in 2011.

Mike has written for Making Music magazine, International Musician, Hypebot, and American Songwriter, and has been quoted in NPR Morning Edition, The Huffington Post, Billboard, The Boston Globe, Wired, CNN, The Boston Phoenix, The Chicago Tribune, Music Connection, and Muso. He's also presented at MIDEM, CMJ, SXSW, NAMM, NARM, SF Music Tech, Futures of Entertainment @ MIT, and Music 2.0. Check out his Website, Blog and follow on Twitter:@atomzooey


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Next Term Starts June 27

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