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Lecture

I gave a guest lecture at the University of Westminster yesterday, for the Innovation & Technology Management module in their MA Music Management. And it occurred to me that this was a bunch of people who were going to have a parade of music industry experts in front of them over the next few months.

When you get experienced music industry professionals, you not only get a range and depth of experience – you also get some ways of thinking that come from a tradition of doing and thinking about things a certain way. Not wrong ways of doing things, necessarily – but ingrained ways of doing things.

I thought I’d spin them something a bit different. Rather than tell them some simple truths about music online, I decided instead to arm them with some critical skills to approach these ingrained ideas with. So I gave them a list of ten provocations, and asked them to argue with me to see how they engaged with the topics.

I can (and did) argue all of these, and I like to think I can do it reasonably convincingly. I don’t necessarily agree with any of them, and I was up front about that. In fact, everything is a lot more complex than simply agreeing or disagreeing with any of these assertions. But, as I told the class, they needed to learn how to engage with these ideas, rather than simply refute them or get defensive.

So we had a really constructive debate about every single one of them. Here are the 10 provocations:

01. Music is not a business

02. Copyright is redundant

03. Futurists are liars

04. The Record Industry is dead

05. Music has no value

06. Piracy is morally right

07. Musicianship is irrelevant

08. The internet replaces music

09. Music should not be anyone’s job

10. Music business education is a joke

My mission was to get them not to simply read books and accept ‘facts’ about the internet, but to interrogate the text, whether it’s a presentation from an industry insider, a research report, or a ‘news’ article in Music Week. I hope – if nothing else – that it provokes them to have the same kinds of debates with everyone else who turns up in that room that we had yesterday afternoon.

And I love that this is exactly what we get to do here on New Music Strategies too.