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Understanding the Music Industries

Understanding the Music Industries

December 2012 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Everyone knows music is big business, but do you really understand how ideas and inspiration become songs, products, downloads, concerts and careers? This textbook guides students to a full understanding of the processes that drive the music industries. More than just an expose or 'how to' guide, this book gives students the tools to make sense of technological change, socio-cultural processes, and the constantly shifting music business environment, putting them in the front line of innovation and entrepreneurship in the future.

Packed with case studies, this book:

• Takes the reader on a journey from Glastonbury and the X-Factor to house concerts and crowd-funded releases;

• Demystifies management, publishing and recording contracts, and the world of copyright, intellectual property and music piracy;

• Explains how digital technologies have changed almost all aspects of music making, performing, promotion and consumption;

• Explores all levels of the music industries, from micro-independent businesses to corporate conglomerates;

• Enables students to meet the challenge of the transforming music industries.

This is the must-have primer for understanding and getting ahead in the music industries. It is essential reading for students of popular music in media studies, sociology and musicology.

Questioning 'Traditional' Models of the Music Industry
Structure of the Book

1. Studying the Music Industries
Key Findings
Getting Started
Organizational Structure
Political Economy
Culture Industry
Historical Analysis
Technological Development
Media Ecology
Digital Technologies

Further Reading

2. The Recorded Music Industry
Key Findings
The Structure and Size of the Recording Industry
A Brief History of the Recorded Music Industry
The Majors: Business Structures and Characteristics
The Independent Sector: Definitions and Types
The Ideology of Independence
Strategies for Dealing with Uncertainty and Risk

Further Reading

3. Songwriting and Publishing
Key Findings
Songwriters, Performers and Publishers
Songwriting as Commercial Practice
Songwriting Methods and Tools
Music Publishing
Traditional Income Streams
'New' Income Streams

Further Reading

4. Music Production
Key Findings
Changing Models and the Mythology of the Recording Studio
The Production Process
Production Careers and Roles
Project Studios, MIDI, and Other Developments

Further Reading

5. Music Distribution
Key Findings
Introducing Music Distribution
Physical Distribution
Mass-Market Retailers
Independent Retailers
Second-Hand Retailers
Online Music Distribution
Streaming Services
Music Media Distribution
Unauthorized Distribution

Further Reading

6. Music Promotion
Key Findings
Marketing, Branding and Gatekeeping
The Promotional Campaign
Music Journalism
Point of Sale Marketing (POS) and In-Store Music
Sponsorships and Endorsements
Grassroots Marketing
Social Media/Mobile Media

Further Reading

7. The Live Music Industries
Key Findings
The Resurgence of Live Music
A Brief History of the Live Music Industry
Motivations for Live Concert Touring
Authenticity and Live Performance
Live Music Sponsorship
Roles and Responsibilities
Live Performance Contracts
Concert and Festival Ticketing
The Relationship between the Recorded and the Live Music Industries

Further Reading

8. Music Audiences
Key Findings
Understanding Music Audiences
Music on the Move: From the Walkman to the iPhone
Music and Social Media Consumption
Heritage and Nostalgia
Record Collecting

Further Reading

9. Copyright and Music Piracy
Key Findings
Introducing Copyright
Copyright Basics
Key Terms in UK Copyright Law
US Copyright Law: Key Differences
Collection Societies
Music Piracy
Music Industry Responses to Piracy
Artist Responses to Piracy

Further Reading

10. Contractual Agreements and Relationships
Key Findings
Artist Management Agreements
Music Publishing Agreements
Recording Agreements
Further Reading
Complexity and Symbiosis
Be Wary of Metanarratives
Diversity and Reorganization
Where Next?


An insightful investigation into the contemporary music industry which is essential reading for all undergraduate music students. Numerous components of the text are not well represented in other similar books, and it also avoids possessing an American focus. It was well-written, organised and thoroughly interesting. A large number of examples augmented many of the points raised and helped to contextualised the study.

Mr Damian Wilkes
My department is not listed, Kidderminster College
February 10, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781446207956

ISBN: 9781446207949

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