Readings in the Music Business, the new MA CCI module led by CMCI cultural historian Dr Harvey G Cohen, just finished its inaugural run this week. Over the 10-week semester, students read some of the best books concerning the history of the music industry released in recent years, covering an eclectic selection of music ranging over a hundred years in the United States and the United Kingdom, reading one book per week. They discussed not only artists and executives, but also the qualities that make for effective book authorship, which will hopefully help guide the graduate students as they prepare their dissertations at MA CCI. Students from the MA Digital Humanities programme of study also participated in the module.
During two weeks of the semester, Cohen invited music industry guests to the seminar. On 4 March, having read Neil Taylor’s oral history of legendary UK indie label and record store Rough Trade, students were surprised to come to class and find Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis ready to discuss his experiences in the music business and answer any and all questions about his career, and advise MA CCI students on how to succeed in the music industry. He also commented on the Taylor book, and noted where he felt the book had misperceived some elements of the history of Rough Trade. If you are a loyal reader of this blog, you know that Cohen previously brought Travis to King’s College London in 2007 for a public event that drew more than 250 people; a photo of Travis and Cohen from that earlier event taken by CMCI alumnus Weilin Wang accompanies this report and a 2007 blogpost can be viewed here.
Also, the following week, on 25 March, another surprise seminar guest, Damon Minchella, arrived at King’s College London to talk to students about the book being read that week, Simon Reynolds’ Retromania, and to answer questions about his career in the music industry and in academia. Minchella was a founding member, songwriter, and bass player for the Birmingham group Ocean Colour Scene, which enjoyed over a dozen top 20 singles and 5 Top 10 albums in the UK during the 1990s and early 21st century. Since then, he has toured with Paul McCartney, Paul Weller, Amy Winehouse, and played with the Who at Live 8, as well as recent session work on the forthcoming Richard Ashcroft solo album, and touring Europe with his jazz group Trio Valore (who can be heard on Spotify and elsewhere on the web). In addition, the incredibly productive Minchella has offered bass instruction and taught courses about the music business at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music in Bristol for years, and is also working full-time on a PhD centring on the music industry at the University of Birmingham. Minchella’s familiarity with cultural theory as well as the nitty gritty details of the music world made for many surprising insights in class this week.
Further information on the Readings in the Music Business module.