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Insights Blog: Five things you’ll learn on the CMU seminar programme

By | Published on Wednesday 13 September 2017

Originally published to accompany the CMU Insights seminar series that explains how the music business works. 

The next edition of the CMU Insights seminar programme ‘How The Music Business Works’ kicks off later this month. Over eight weeks, this course provides a concise but comprehensive overview of the music industry in 2017, and explains how artists can grow a fanbase and then build a business around that audience. We cover a lot in the eight two hour sessions. Here are just five of the things you’ll learn on the course.

1. How music copyright makes money.
There are two key music rights – the copyright in the song and the copyright in the recording. Copyright provides a number of controls over what happens to each song and each recording: the reproduction control, the distribution control, the rental control, the adaptation control, the performance control and the communication control.

The copyright owner can exploit those controls for profit. That might mean directly exploiting the copyright, like making a copy of your recording onto vinyl and selling it direct to the fan. Or it might mean licensing – permission-giving for profit – where you allow someone else to exploit the copyright controls in return for a licence fee.

And that’s how copyright makes money! We’ll walk you through all this step-by-step in the music rights sessions on ‘How The Music Business Works’, explaining the rules around copyright ownership, how the different controls work, and the differences between direct and collective licensing.

2. Which streaming services are winning.
We all know that streaming is booming, and that for the record industry streaming is becoming the single biggest income generator.

There are a number of different kinds of streaming services, of course, from both a consumer experience and licensing perspective. The free platforms have by far the biggest user base, but the paid for subscription services generate by far the most income. Which is a challenge for the music industry.

The free services are good marketing channels – both for new releases and for upselling premium streaming options – and they are unlocking revenue in emerging markets that used to generate nominal income for the global music firms.

But at the same time, it’s paying Spotify and Apple Music subscribers who are really pushing the recorded music industry back into growth.

In ‘The Music Rights Sector’ we’ll consider which streaming platforms are gaining the most traction in different countries, and how that translates into income.

3. What brands want from music partnerships.
We all know brands see music as a great way to connect with consumers, and everyone in music these days seems to be eager to get their hands on some brand cash. But what are brands really looking for when they work with artists and music companies?

Is it content for their ads or digital channels? Is it tickets for shows? Is it branding at venues and festivals? Is it merch to give away to customers? Is it access to an artist’s online fanbase? Is it product endorsement through an artist’s social media?

It could be all those things, though the challenge there is that the artist likely has different business partners working with their songs, recordings, shows, merch and direct-to-fan channels. So who does the brand do the deal with?

In the ‘Merch, Live & Brands’ seminar we look at the challenges and opportunities for bands and brands looking to collaborate.

4. Which social and music media matter.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and SoundCloud are likely on the priority list for UK-based artists when it comes to social media, with Snapchat added if you have a younger fanbase.

But each of those platforms do something different, and therefore play different roles as artists look to grow and engage a fanbase. So where do artists with limited time and budget put most effort?

And what about traditional music media, do they still matter? Actually, they do, though the role played by music magazines, websites and radio will depend on where an artist is in their career, and the audience they are aiming to reach.

We talk through both social media and music media in the two fan engagement seminars on the programme: ‘Social Media Tools’ and ‘Music Media’.

5. How direct-to-fan is changing the artist business.
Any artist looking to make a full time living out of their music is also a business. And that means they need a business plan. Though, at a basic level, every artist has the same business plan: build a fanbase, understand your fanbase, and then sell them stuff.

You might sell them records, tickets and t-shirts, but you might sell them something completely different. The real revolution caused by the internet in music is that artists can now talk directly to their core fanbase, and therefore find out who those people are, where they live, what excites them, and how much money they have to spend. And then use that information to build an artist business best suited to their specific fanbase.

For more details on the CMU Insights seminars and masterclasses click here. For more information on our in-house training services click here.