Music Business Agreements and Licensing – CMUS 354

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

An examination of the background and principles of contract law as applied to the negotiation, creation, interpretation and enforcement of binding agreements in the music industry. This course also involves a study of music licensing and work for hire, royalties, and residuals.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


The music industry functions through the application of laws and binding agreements. To operate successfully in the industry a student needs to understand how these agreements protect and serve those industry professionals named in the agreements, as well as how to interpret, negotiate, and create these documents. This course is designed to teach the student the elements, terms, and applications of such agreements.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning exercises. Therefore, the student will participate in 3 Discussions to engage with their peers on course materials and assignments. Prompts will be provided for each Discussion based on the content within the assigned module: week. The student will upload an initial thread of at least 250 words and then reply to at least two of his/her peers to emulate classroom discussion. Each reply must be at least 150 words.

Artist Email Assignment

Legal agreements are critical for an artist. The artist-record label agreement is necessary to protect the artist and company from misunderstandings that can result in disappointment and financial loss. In this assignment, the student will play the role of the artist manager, responsible to explain the important elements of the artist/record company agreement offered to his/her artist. The email must be no less than three pages.

Producer Bullet Point Assignment

This assignment will help the student process insights gained from one of the course texts highlighting the key aspects of each section. The student will create a list of the most important elements he/she needs to know and remember about a producer deal point agreement. The assignment must be no less than three pages, including a title page.

Tour Expense and Revenue Assignment

Artists tour to connect with their fans and to build a fan base who will stream their music, buy merchandise (merch), and attend concerts. Before approving a concert date, the artist needs to “crunch the numbers” to determine if it is feasible. In this assignment, the student will assess projected expenses and revenue for an artist tour.

Internal Group Agreement Assignment

An artist’s band is made up of talented individuals who come together to travel and perform. An internal agreement is necessary to help avoid misunderstandings and potential financial losses. Each member will want to understand compensation, what is expected, and how the agreement is affected should a key player leave. In this assignment, the student will play the role of the key member of a band/group and create an agreement for his/her fictional group.

Copyright and Licensing Paper Assignment

Licensing copyrighted music has become one of the most important streams of revenue for the owner of the musical composition and the recordings of that music. This assignment will help the student study and articulate the basic tenants of music copyright law and three very important music usage licenses: mechanical, synchronization and print. The paper must be 2-3 pages and include at least three citations from the course textbooks.

Public Performance and Master Use Essay Assignment

This assignment will provide the student the opportunity to exhibit his/her understanding of several aspects of the public performance and master use license and how they are used in the music industry. For each essay question, the student will provide a thorough explanation written in 3-5 complete sentences.

Determining Factors Assignment

A key role in the music industry involves the creation of licenses for artists and record companies who are seeking permission to use songs your company administrates. This assignment will provide the student the opportunity to ask questions, interpret information, and apply this information to determine which licenses are necessary in three fictional scenarios.

Licensing Assignment

The copyright law provides the copyright owner the right to decide who gets to use their copyright, under what circumstances, and what it will cost. By law, many of these usages require a license which establishes term limits, fees, territory, and other information to both the licensee and the licensor. The person who creates these licenses is called the Licensing Administrator. In this assignment, the student will create the actual licenses used in the industry.