Music Marketing 101


Authored by Mike King


Course Code: OMBUS-125

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


The music industry has undergone extreme changes over the past few years, many of which have opened the doors for developing bands and artists. Gone are the days where the only option for getting fans to hear your music relied upon support from a limited number of "gatekeepers." Music Marketing 101 provides artists, managers, and business entrepreneurs with the foundational music marketing base they'll need to succeed and thrive in this new music business.

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This course starts with the basics—an overview of key music marketing principles, terms, and practices which together form the foundation for all music marketing plans. From there, students will dig into the key areas of opportunities for musicians, including merchandising, publicity, radio promotion (online and traditional), retail and distribution (online and traditional), advertising, and touring. Students will learn what companies and partners to work with to reach their core fans, how to communicate with them, and the ways to leverage the changes and new opportunities that the internet offers to marketers. The information in this course can form the basis for a full marketing campaign, or be immediately implemented into a new marketing and promotion campaign. This course looks at the opportunities available at both traditional terrestrial marketing opportunities, as well as online opportunities. By the end of the course you will have an active marketing plan and timeline tailored to your own unique strengths and budget.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Gain a firm understanding of the foundational best practices involved with all successful music marketing campaigns
  • Develop an integrated approach to music marketing in the focus areas of Press, Retail, Distribution (online and traditional), Radio, Advertising, Merchandising, and Touring
  • Understand online music distribution and retail: the terms, deals, formats, options, and key companies to work with
  • Know the PR outlets that matter—national, regional, local, specialized and trade press—how and when to communicate to them, and when to hire outside help
  • Learn how to get your music into brick and mortar independent retailers, what kind of materials you should make to support your release, and the inner workings of the online retail and distribution outlets
  • Understand how radio promotion works, and learn when you should consider an independent promotion company
  • Know what to make for merchandise, when to make it, and how much to spend
  • Create a timeline and a working marketing plan tailored to your individual strengths
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Lesson 1: Getting Started with Music Marketing

  • Core Marketing Elements 
  • Awareness, Demand, and Sales Vehicles 
  • An Integrated Approach to Marketing 
  • How Press, Radio, Retail, Online, and Touring Work Together 
  • Key Revenue Streams and the Importance of Building a Community 
  • Touring and Merchandise as a Revenue Stream
  • Case Study: Phish and Building a Community 
  • Prioritizing Your Mailing List 
  • How to Choose an Email Service Provider (ESP)
  • How to Build Up Your Community 
  • Assignment 1: Build Your First Music Marketing Funnel

Lesson 2: Making Money through Merchandise Sales

  • Artists as Brands: Hip-Hop and Expanded Revenue Streams
  • A Closer Look at Secondary Revenue Streams
  • How Merchandising Works
  • Putting Together Your Merchandise Plan
  • Essential and Nonessential Items
  • Manufacturing Your Merch
  • Merchandising Sales and Distribution Strategies: Selling Your Merch at Shows
  • Selling Your Merch Online from Your Own Site
  • Basic Online Store/Fulfillment/Merch Companies
  • Assignment 2: Your Merchandising Plan

Lesson 3: Streaming Services, Retailers, and Digital Distributors

  • Digital Distribution Basics
  • Compression
  • DRM, Metadata, and UPC
  • Digital Music Business Models
  • Downloads and Streaming
  • What Streaming Services/DSPs Pay Artists
  • Digital Service Providers
  • Spotify and Apple Music
  • Amazon Music, Pandora, and Deezer
  • Keep an Eye on China
  • Digital Distribution Services
  • Self-Serve Digital Distributors
  • Premium Digital Distributors
  • Labels in the Era of Streaming
  • Assignment 3: Digital Distribution

Lesson 4: Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Distributors

  • Physical Music Distributors: The Process and the Players
  • When Do You Need Physical Distribution?
  • Independent Artists and Distribution
  • Physical Distribution: The Details
  • What Is "Co-Op"?
  • Marketing Tools for Your Distributor
  • Communicating with Your Distributor
  • Independent Retailers and Retail Coalitions
  • How Smart Independents Are Competing in This Environment
  • Assignment 4: Physical Distribution in a Digital Era

Lesson 5: Marketing Creative

  • The Beginnings of “Cover Art”
  • Blue Note, Cal Schenkel, and Jim Pollock
  • Getting Started with Creative
  • Emotional Connection and the Psychology of Creative
  • Demographics, Psychographics, and the Brand
  • Creative Strategy
  • Art, Creative, and Campaign Design
  • Distribution Channels, Analytics, and Testing
  • Case Study: Washed Out
  • Effective Design: The Nuts and Bolts of Advertising Creative
  • Design That Incentivizes Marketing Action
  • Creative Resources for Musicians
  • Assignment 5: Marketing Creative Analysis

Lesson 6: Publicity 

  • Publicity in Context
  • Press Kit Essentials
  • What Makes a Good Press Kit?
  • Press Kit Optional Materials
  • Common Problems with Press Kits
  • The Importance of a Press Story
  • A Press Story in Action with a Major Artist
  • A Press Story in Action with a Developing Artist
  • Determining Your Press Outlets: Print, Online, Radio, and Television
  • How to Pitch to Different Types of Media Outlets
  • Independent Publicists and When Do You Need One
  • Assignment 6: Drafting Your Press Story

Lesson 7: Radio 

  • When Should You Consider Radio Promotion?
  • What Else Should Be in Place Prior to Considering Your Radio Campaign?
  • Marketing to Noncommercial Radio
  • Commercial Radio Formats
  • Opportunities with Radio
  • Working with an Independent Radio Promoter
  • The Future of Radio: Online Radio Services
  • Online Radio Royalties
  • Satellite Radio
  • Assignment 7: Researching Radio Options

Lesson 8: Making the Most of a National Tour 

  • Key Players in the Touring Business: Your Team
  • Club Owners, Promoters, Event Organizers
  • Booking Your Gig
  • Promoting the Show: Working with the Venue
  • Promoting the Show: You and Your Fans
  • Promoting the Show: Press
  • Promoting the Show: Retail
  • Tour Support from a Label
  • Assignment 8: Planning Your Tour

Lesson 9: Advertising 

  • What Is Advertising?
  • Repetition Is the Mother of Conversions
  • Advertising Channels Overview
  • Print Advertising
  • Traditional Media Advertising: Radio and Television
  • Online Advertising: Banner Ads and Audio Ads
  • Online Advertising: Sponsored Social Posts
  • Online Advertising: Video Network Ads
  • Outdoor Advertising
  • Where to Start with Online Advertising
  • Facebook and Google Advertising
  • Third-Party Services:, Show.Co, and ToneDen
  • Case Study: Advertising Using to Run Spotify Audio Ads
  • Anatomy of an Ad and Advertising Campaign
  • Assets, Timing, and Budget
  • Measurement and Tracking
  • Assignment 9: Planning an Ad

Lesson 10: Creating a Marketing Plan That Works

  • The Big Picture
  • Defining Your Goals
  • Defining Your Market
  • Components of an Effective Marketing Plan
  • Budgeting! The Components of a New Release Budget
  • Tailoring the Plan to Your Strengths
  • Assignment 10: Creating a Final Marketing Plan - Part 1

Lesson 11: Timing Your Marketing Campaign: Putting It All Together

  • Timing the Pre-Release Marketing of Your Music
  • Pre-Release Marketing Activities
  • Long-Lead: Starting Six Months Ahead of Street Date
  • Moderate-Lead: Starting Three Months Ahead of Street Date
  • Short-Lead: Starting Two Months Ahead of Street Date
  • How to Service Key Marketing Outlets Pre-Release
  • Pre-Release Marketing to Print Press and Radio
  • Pre-Release Marketing to Retail and Blogs
  • Post-Release Marketing: Touring
  • Phase II Marketing: Capitalizing on Your Success
  • Assignment 11: Creating a Final Marketing Plan - Part 2

Lesson 12: Sync and Licensing

  • Music Publishing and Licensing
  • Music Publishing Case Studies
  • Music Uses and Sync Licensing
  • Music Supervision
  • Behind the Music: Music Supervision with Toddrick Spalding
  • Behind the Music: Mike Nelson, Manager for Sloan
  • Music Houses
  • Assignment 12: Music and Sync Uses


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.


  • No textbooks 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 Chats. 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


Mike King


Mike King is currently the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing at Interlochen Center of the Arts. Mike’s career has been devoted to the arts and arts education. His first professional position was at Rykodisc where he oversaw marketing efforts for label artists including Mickey Hart, Andrew Bird, Morphine, Bill Hicks, The Slip, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Frank Zappa. Mike also spent time at Rounder Records and at Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures.

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Mike spent 19 years at Berklee College of Music in Boston, culminating in the roles of Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing at Berklee and Chief Marketing Officer at Berklee Online. 

Mike is an educator who has taught music business and marketing courses for Berklee Online and Northeastern University, and has authored courses for Berklee Online. His book, Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail, was published by Berklee Press. Mike has also been recognized as the Best Music Business Teacher by the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP).

He has written for Making Music magazine, International Musician, Hypebot, and American Songwriter, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Billboard, The Boston Globe, APM Marketplace, Wired, and The Chicago Tribune. He has also presented at MIDEM, SXSW, NAMM, NARM, and more.

Mike has served on the board of the Boch Center in Boston, and has been an advisor to several companies, including Ledger in Paris, Île-de-France, France. Read Less

John Lenac


John Lenac has helped to drive the evolution of the technology and music landscape since his days as a musician, band manager, and local concert promoter in the late '80s. He helped launch one of the first Alternative Rock FM stations (KTOZ, circa 1991), and grew it to become one of the highest-rated stations in the US. After programming and managing rock stations in Nashville and Kansas City, he was a Promotion Manager at TVT Records and then Rock Editor at HITS Magazine.

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In 2004, he joined LAUNCH/Yahoo! Music. As Head of Music Programming and Artist/Label Relations, he managed a team of radio and video music programmers and interfaced with record labels, artist managers, artists, and business leaders for Yahoo’s branded original content music programs. He then joined PledgeMusic as the Global Head of Business Development, negotiating and closing deals with record labels and various manufacturing, marketing, and ticketing companies. John has been developing and managing artists his whole career, served as the president of a music festival/concert series, and founded and ran his own FM talent management company.

John's work has contributed to millions of albums sold and put dozens of gold and platinum plaques on his wall. He has been a guest lecturer at several schools, including UCLA. He's been a panel moderator and panelist at music industry conventions all over the world, including: SXSW, CMJ, MUSEXPO, Worldwide Radio Summit, One Movement Festival, Music Export Finland, MUSEXPO EUROPE, and The Global Rock Summit. He has also been interviewed by various media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Variety, Records & Radio, Billboard, FMQB, and MTV.

John is currently the Founder/CEO of TechIT Media Group (consultancy for tech & media startups) and also Founder/CEO of WITHYN (record label, artist management and live events). Read Less

Jay Coyle


Jay Coyle is the founder and "Music Geek" at the digital marketing firm, Music Geek Services. His company provides artist services for the music industry and has been a Topspin-certified marketer since 2009. Built upon a life-long omnivorous obsession with marketing bands and mixing in equal parts of knowledge gained from an advertising-focused Journalism degree at the University of Georgia along with his skills running a Marketing consultancy for 5 years in Atlanta, Music Geek Services was finally created in 2008 immediately after Jay left a marketing position at the EMI CMG label in Nashville.

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Jay's first project under the Music Geek moniker was doing work as band archivist and label product manager for Canadian music veterans, Barenaked Ladies. Since then, Jay has worn a lot of hats including sales, marketing, artist development, business development, tour management, and product management. Jay is currently working with Sloan, the Presidents of the United States of America, Jars of Clay, and Carbon Leaf. Jay's core focus is to help further the careers of artists while partnering with them in a "D.I.Y. +" sort of way to have long-lasting and fan-focused careers. Read Less


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