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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS5833M The Recording Industry Now

30 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Stan Erraught

Taught: 1 Jan to 30 Jun View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The aim of this module is to provide students with a thorough understanding of the recorded music industry in all its forms and to prepare them for the challenges faced by this industry through a period of significant technological, economic and social changes, whether as professionals within the recording industry or as artists or managers interacting with it. Placed in its historical, social and cultural context, the business of selling recorded music will be investigated through case studies and through analysis of the role played by recorded music in relation to live performance and to other media.


This module introduces students to the complex challenges faced by a recording industry in transition. On completion, students will understand the ways in which the traditional model of a high-value physical product, produced, manufactured and distributed by single industry companies, has been replaced by a much more complex system of interlocking tech- and content-generation businesses.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:
1. Evaluate critically current developments and trends within the recording industry.
2. Understand the narrative from composition and/ recording of a piece of music to its release and reception.
3. Analyse the successes and failures of the industry, both in terms of its own sustainability and in terms of sustaining and developing musical practice.
4. Reflect critically on case studies and examples discussed in the lectures. Understand how artists, labels and platforms operate in the recording sector.
5. Research real-life issues and outcomes within the recording industry.

Skills outcomes
Students will develop a clear understanding of the changes the recording industry has undergone on recent years and the consequences of these for artists, managers and audiences. They will also be able, with some confidence, to anticipate the future shape of the industry and of possible career paths within it.
Students will learn how to balance musical and commercial judgement, learn how to recognise the artistic and commercial potential of new artists and how best to harness these qualities.
Students will develop the skills and the confidence to enter the recording industry in professional roles or to work within the industry as independent operators.


Issues investigated may include:
The development of the recording industry and of the technologies that made it possible.
The history of the contested territory of mechanical copyright and performance rights with regard to recordings.
The challenge of digital: how the record industry has responded to file-sharing and piracy and to the challenge of streaming.
Collecting and managing revenue: blockchain and distributed ledgers.
Revenue streams and practices beyond the direct sale of recorded product, whether physical or online: sync, branding partnerships etc.
Managing the archive: preserving access to, and generating revenue from, historical recordings.
Artist and Repertoire management in the digital age.
Promoting and marketing recorded music.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours270.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Case studies, often with associated video/ audio content, will be posted on the VLE before lectures. Students will be expected to familiarise themselves with this material before lectures. Students will need to independently investigate existing artists and labels in order to prepare for their presentation and report. This is likely to amount to 10 hours per week on lecture and seminar preparation and a further 8 hours per week researching and preparing for assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar exercises will simulate the assessment model and students will be given the opportunity to rehearse and film presentations.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentCompletion of an online proposal form0.00
PresentationVerbal presentation - 20 minutes plus questions65.00
Report1400-1600 words35.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students will be offered the opportunity to resit the assignment in the same format, unless, for adequate and documented reasons, they are unable to present in person, in which case, alternative, but equivalent methods will be employed (e.g. Skype)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:43:07


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