MU$IC

The Economy, Sociology and Practice of Popular Music
Category
Broadening minor
Minor code
MINESHCC-7
Duration
10 weeks

Content

Popular music plays a fundamental role in everyday life. It can act as a source of identification and rebellion, but also just to aid in selling a product. There is music for babies, for funerals, for going out, for elevators, for having sex to – and much, much more. In other words, popular music has become ubiquitous in our lives. In this minor, students explore both classic and cutting-edge research on the topic, while simultaneously gaining practical experience by taking part in the creation of their own ‘hit’ song.

The minor has a three-fold set-up:

First, students are invited to sociologically engage with the study of popular music’s role in societies from its beginnings in rag time and youth cultures to its contemporary position in 21st Century digital landscape. Key concepts such as genre, scene, identity formation, authentication processes, social and symbolic boundaries, counter- and subcultures, and social inequality based on musical preferences, will be fundamental in this approach.

Second, an economic approach will familiarize students with the functioning of the music industry – both at the level of musicians and global media companies. Students will discuss popular music marketing, law, regulation and technology – particularly in a time of rampant illegal downloading/streaming and DIY music production.

Third, students directly put their knowledge to the test by taking part in the creation process of their own ‘hit’ song and strategy. This is not only a musical objective, but also a project that involves marketing, concept strategizing and creative entrepreneurship. Due to a unique partnership with Codarts University of arts, teams of students will be coached by well-known contemporary popular music professionals to gain hands-on knowledge within the field of popular music songwriting, production, marketing and distribution.

Learning objectives

  • After following this minor, students have an in-depth understanding of the role that popular music plays in society.
  • After following this minor, students are able to reproduce the key concepts in the sociology of popular music and apply these in their own work and research.
  • After following this minor, students have an in-depth understanding of the history and contemporary workings of the international popular music industries from a business, legal, organizational, technological and societal perspective.
  • After following this minor, students have a thorough understanding of the workings of contemporary music business practices and its ties to the IT-sector.
  • After following this minor, students can evaluate issues in music industries and can creatively produce analyses and potential solutions to these issues in their own work and research.
  • After following this minor, students can creatively apply their knowledge on the sociology and economy of music in musical entrepreneurship.
  • After following this course, students are able to work together in production practices and actively reflect on divisions of labour.
  • After following this minor, students have an in-depth understanding of the creation (process) and distribution of contemporary ‘hit’ songs and can apply this in practice.

Special aspects

  • Due to high demand and limited capacity (20 students), this minor has a selection procedure. Students are required to provide a letter of motivation (max. 500 words) to j.schaap@eshcc.eur.nl, after indicating this minor as their first preference (from 1 April 13h00 until 14 April 13h00). You will hear whether you are accepted or not before the end of April 2022. For further information please see the application procedure for selection minors.
  • Affinity with popular music is essential to successfully follow this minor programme, but it is not necessary to possess musical knowledge or skills (e.g. playing an instrument).
  • Parts of this minor will take place at the pop music department of Codarts University of the arts (location WMDC/Grounds, Pieter de Hoochweg 125 Rotterdam), so students should be willing to travel there.
  • Musicians’ lives can be unpredictable. Seeing that part of the programme entails students co-creating   and promoting a potential hit song, flexibility is expected during the period that the minor programme covers.

Overview modules

Module 1: Popular Music: Industry and Society (5 EC)

  • Code: CC2052
  • EC: 5
  • Content: In this theoretical course, students will be made familiar with both the sociology (society) and the economy (industry) of music. On the one hand, students are invited to theoretically engage in the critical and systematic study of popular music’s role in societies from its beginnings in rag time and youth cultures to its contemporary position in 21st Century digital landscape. Key concepts such as genre, scene, identity formation, authentication processes, social and symbolic boundaries, counter- and subcultures and social inequality based on musical preferences will be fundamental in this approach. On the other hand, an industry approach will familiarize students with the functioning of the music industry – both at the level of musicians and global media companies. Students will discuss popular music law, regulation and technology – particularly in a time of rampant illegal downloading/streaming and DIY music production. These developments have brought to the fore advantages and disadvantages for both musicians and the music industry, which do not always serve both parties’ interests. Moreover, industry and organizational structures are discussed in combination with artistic career development. This perspective will also allow us to get a glimpse of the future of music: Web 2.0 and 3.0, the metaverse, algorithmic taste prediction, and the global hegemony of IT companies such as Google, Amazon and Spotify.
  • Teaching method(s): One lecture per week; three hours each
  • Teaching materials: Research articles; book chapters
  • Contact hours: 3 per week
  • Self study: 10 per week

https://courses.eur.nl/#/2019-2020/detail/cc2052

Module 2: Popular Music: Greatest Hits and Critics’ Picks

  • Code: CC9012
  • EC: 5
  • Content: Greatest Hits and Critics’ Picks is a tailor-made, so-called ‘capita selecta’ course with revolving guest speakers from music research and the music industry. In this course, theoretical and practical knowledge on contemporary popular music production, distribution and consumption is combined to offer students cutting-edge insights into the popular music landscape. In a series of small-scale, interactive seminars, a number of invited speakers from popular music research and the popular music profession will share their knowledge on topics as diverse as: crisis management in the music industry; streaming and recommendation systems/algorithms; crowdfunding and novel forms of income generation; or the importance and value of live music for audiences. Throughout the course, students actively engage with the presented themes and topics through student-led introductions, and they write their own research paper at the end of the course.
  • Teaching method(s): One interactive seminar per week; three hours each
  • Teaching materials: Research articles; book chapters; other recommended sources
  • Contact hours: 3 per week
  • Self study: 10 per week

Module 3: The Popular Music Hit Song Project

  • Code: CC9013
  • EC: 5
  • Content: In this project-course, students will work together with Codarts students to achieve a ‘hit’ song. This does not only involve taking part in/witnessing the creation process of the music itself, but especially the related social and industry practices. This means that students will set a goal for their project (e.g. mainstream or underground scene) and work on getting the song ‘out there’ through the right channels. These projects are presented in a final symposium at the end of the minor. Throughout the course, students are guided by professional songwriters and other music industry professionals such as A&R managers and music publishers. As such, they get a very close look into the real-life production and distribution process of (potential) hit songs.
  • Teaching method(s): Weekly project meetings, supported by multiple coaches from the field of contemporary music production. Rehearsal spaces will be made available by Codarts.
  • Contact hours: 3 hours per week
  • Self study: 10 hours per week

Examination

Method of examination

  • Written exam (module 1)
  • Individual paper (module 1)
  • Group assignment (module 1)
  • Session introduction (module 2)
  • Individual paper (module 2)
  • Briefing, portfolio and presentation (module 3)
  • Attendance/participation (module 3)
  • Individual reflection (module 3)

Composition final grade

Module 1 – Popular Music: Industry and Society
Written exam (60%)
Individual paper (10%)
Group assignment (30%)

Module 2 – Popular Music: Greatest Hits and Critic’s Picks
Session introduction (30%)
Individual paper (70%)

Module 3 – The Popular Music Hit Song Project
Briefing, portfolio and presentation (40%)
Attendance/participation (10%)
Individual reflection (50%)

Feedback

Module 1 – Popular Music: Industry and Society
Written exam (60%) – regular grading procedure with possibility to review corrections
Individual paper (10%) – extensive written and verbal feedback
Group assignment (30%) – extensive written and verbal feedback

Module 2 – Popular Music: Popular Music: Greatest Hits and Critic’s Picks
Session introduction (30%) - extensive written and verbal feedback
Individual paper (70%) – extensive written feedback

Module 3 – The Popular Music Hit Song Project

Briefing, portfolio and presentation (40%) – extensive written feedback
Attendance/participation (10%) – decided by coach and discussed with student
Individual reflection (50%) – extensive written feedback

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact

Contact information

Julian Schaap (ESHCC) & Nina Sampermans (Codarts)

j.schaap@eshcc.eur.nlnsampermans@codarts.nl

room: M7-14

Category
Broadening minor
Minor code
MINESHCC-7
Duration
10 weeks
Organisation
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication
Study points (EC)
15
Instruction language
English
Location
Campus Woudestein
Location

Codarts University of the Arts (WMDC/Grounds)

Registration

Please read the application procedure for more information. 

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