Economic Survival in a Long Established Creative Industry: Strategies, Business Models and Copyright in Music Publishing

Sheet music for Mozart's Coda Sonata in C Major

Project funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 2014-2016 (research grant no. AH/L004666/1)

The research aims to analyse the survival of music publishing industry over a long period of time as it adapted its products, marketing strategies and business models to new technologies and legislative changes. The analysis is expected to provide new perspectives and valuable insights into the challenges faced by the UK creative industries in relation to digital technologies and the Internet. The research has six main objectives:

  1. To understand the historical processes whereby music publishing moved from selling sheet music to securing performances to licensing sound recordings, to syndication through changes of technology, copyright and competition laws and consumer behavior.
  2. To chart the different business models, licenses deals or alliances involved in this evolutionary process, in particular the retention and exploitation in recent times of back catalogue, especially through digitisation.
  3. To chart the changing product cycles of musical works (songs, musical drama, orchestral works etc) that essentially reconfigure what is basically the same product, namely, access to composed music, through building a data set of long-lived titles of musical works.
  4. To analyse through quantitative and qualitative studies the different historical changes in terms of today’s concerns about copyright protection, ‘cannibalization ‘ of different formats of distribution, appropriate business models, ‘orphan works’ – the fate of these works when companies went out of business or merged
  5. To understand how these transactions took place in terms of modern industrial organization theory – the analysis of contractual arrangements, incentives and rewards.

The research project is a partnership between CIPPM and Birkbeck, University of London, and is carried out in close collaboration with CREATe, the Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise and Technology at the University of Glasgow.

Principal Investigator is Ruth Towse

Co-Investigators are: Maurizio Borghi and Hyojung Sun (CIPPM), Fiona MacMillan (Birkbeck) and Jose Bellido (University of Kent)