New degree course aims to find budding music moguls like the legendary late Tony Wilson

Manchester is set to be the home for Britain’s first ever degree course designed to find the next music mogul like the city’s legendary late Tony Wilson. Ostereo, a Manchester record company, is launching the first ever BA in Music Business that’s specifically aimed at the next generation of would-be pop moguls wanting to work in the £21 billion industry.

The course will deal with A&R, distribution and music copyrights, which have been important for generations of acts from The Beatles to The Spice Girls but also incorporate the comparatively new world of Spotify, YouTube and TikTok, securing royalties, using playlists and promoting music on social media.

These are ‘skills gaps’ lacking in other music business degrees but are vital to finding the next Ed Sheeran or other major star, said Howard Murphy, found of Ostereo. He said: “Too many young people still think the business side of the music industry is about champagne, flowers and after-show parties.

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“Many business programmes offer very little education when it comes the back-end of our business. We want to offer learners a more rounded understanding of today’s industry. This means an emphasis on streaming, data, social media promotion and other trends that power our trade.”

Applications for the BA Hons course has just opened for the 2023 academic year. The course will be based at a dedicated site in Manchester and include features such as working with real artists on a music release campaign, promoting it and collecting resulting royalties.

Students will also get the chance to do work experience with a range of music industry organisations including the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) which runs the BRIT Awards and Mercury Music Prize. And it will not just be about big-name pop acts and traditional revenue streams like physical and live.

Oasis in 1995

Writers and producers who provide music for TV and film soundtracks also earn healthy fees and need music business support. The course will also tackle the process of getting on to the playlists of major retail stores who broadcast in locations around the world.

Students will also learn how to create opportunities outside the English-speaking world and tap into lucrative markets in India, China and South Korea. Sarah McAdam, Dean of the School of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at Plymouth Maron University, who are the awarding body for the course, said the course will give students real experience of the industry.

She said: “This isn’t about a campus experience or lecture halls. It’s not dry or theoretical. It’s very embedded in the music industry and has been designed to give learners a practical focus and a hands-on experience right from day one.”

Manchester is well known for its thriving music scene and the term ‘Madchester’ was coined after bands like The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Oasis and The Smiths thrust the city into the spotlight in the 90’s. Tony Wilson founded Factory Records who also signed Salford band Joy Division who later became New Order.

Ian Brown of The Stone Roses

Ramin Bostan, COO of Ostereo said: “There is something in the water in Manchester that gives birth to bands like Oasis. The Britpop and early rave scene is so iconic in that regard.

“There still is a thriving music scene in Manchester today. I am seeing a lot of local support for live music with venues such as Gorilla, The Deaf Institute, Matts and Phreds attracting really talented musicians and a great live music experience.”

Ramin cites community radio as helping the thriving scene, including Reform Radio and Unity radio, who help to get young marginalised people involved. He says: “Most of our artists are from overseas but we still have quite a Manchester culture and we like to do things that are not so London centric.”