Paul Leary and the Business of Music

Given the ways that the digital age has impacted a multitude of industries, it can be seen that the process of event and product promotion has shifted. Social media management has become a path of specialization within the workforce as it offers a direct and simple link between customer and company. Company and product promotion has become so much more about an image and reputation than about output.

SUNY Oswego is instilling these concepts within their students through classes like Paul Leary’s MUS397 class “The Business of Music.” The course is offered through the music department and is a staple of the university’s Arts Management minor. The Arts Management minor, offered as a generalist or business-heavy Pre-MBA track, prepares students with experience working within the arts industry. The class in itself focuses heavily on arts management promotion and affords students a hands-on opportunity to work with promoting live events. In order to give students a range of expertise, they are exposed to a variety of art forms in addition to music. Guest speakers that have come into the class include a composer of movie scores and the artistic director from the recent campus event “Feathers of Fire.” Students have been given insight on adjusting art to different mediums as well as starting an arts company.

The class’s main focus for the past few weeks has been promoting for the music department’s upcoming Collage Concert, taking place this Friday, March 2nd. The students are working with real deadlines, creating content, and making connections to get real-world experience with music advertising. The students have been broken into teams working on local promotion, print design team, social media/digital promotion, and media promotion. All materials seen around campus advertising for the event are student produced and conceptualized. So far they’ve produced posters to be distributed around campus, released free tickets to be given out to local schools, and have created video advertisements.

Overall, the class has much more of an open atmosphere than many lecture-based classes I’ve been a part of. The entire group of students was involved as the graphic design artists showed their different drafts for the final poster, giving constructive criticism and making helpful comments about things that were effective about each draft.The goal is to make content that was clean and organized while pleasing to the eye. The final design currently available around campus was completely student created. Other components of the curriculum include understanding music industry concepts, writing funding grants, designing websites, product marketing, business plan and label designs.

Professor Leary’s class teaches how to not only to succeed in the art industry but how to succeed as a professional. The main takeaway from his recent class: “Don’t use your album to make money. Develop audience first. There’s no money in albums, there’s money in the experience of you.”  This applies to both music promotion and professional development. The path to success is defined by never being afraid to be your most authentic self.

Leave a Reply