SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

The Music Business

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

A look at issues of relevance to the contemporary music world, from control and ownership through to consumption and promotion. Issues relevant to Asia and Africa will be coupled to European and American examples to develop an understanding of music in a global context. Taught through seminars, with student participation expected.

Topics may include:

  • Music as propaganda; 
  • censorship; 
  • copyright; 
  • audiences and concert-going; 
  • composers and maestros; 
  • musicology and musical canons;
  • musicology vs ethnomusicology; 
  • technology; 
  • marketing and the web; 
  • the rise of “world music”; 
  • “world music” in education; 
  • the Western impact on world music; 
  • ideology and genre in pop music.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of how the music business works. They will also have gained insights into the operation of copyright, censorship, distribution, canons, concerts and scholarship. 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