SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

The Music Business

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

This module focuses on the music business as an aspect of the contemporary Creative Industries. Using a range of theoretical perspectives combining political economy, cultural studies, media sociology, ethnomusicology and popular music studies, this module will consider issues such as ownership and control, production and consumption, music and technology, the future of genres, music journalism and careers in the music industry. Teaching will be a combination of lectures and seminars, and insight from guest speakers involved in the music industry (past guests include music publishers, producers, musicians, PR and journalists). The aim is to get a sense of the history and contemporary structure of the global music industry, using theory and case studies from around the world.

Topics covered will include:

  • ​Discourses of music consumption and production​
  • ​Ideology, genres and taste
  • Music and technology
  • ​Music formats from wax discs to streaming​
  • The politics of post-digital music
  • Music as propaganda​
  • Writing about music
  • Working in the music industry
  • The world music market

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of ​what the music business is and ​how ​it works. They will also have gained insights into the ​impact of digital technologies, the ​operation of copyright, censorship, distribution​ and scholarship​ on these issues. They will have learnt about both the dominant European and American industry based in Europe and America, and have an overview of how the industry operates elsewhere in the world, including in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.


  • Two hours per week

Method of assessment

  • One 1 000 words essay (worth 40%)
  • One 2 000 words essay (worth 60%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules