A blog of the Center for Experimental Ethnography
The Center supports course development, and this year we offered a grant to Guthrie
Ramsey’s upper level seminar “The Music Industry Meets Activism,” an interactive course that explores the relationship between the popular music industry and the sound-worlds it comes from and returns to. It places the business of music in dialogue with various forms of historical and contemporary activism with an emphasis on Philadelphia. Through case studies, students learn how the industry generates and manages its various revenue streams. Students also witness how music can operate as a living activity that galvanizes and creates community and social bonds through industry and on-the-ground local networks.
In addition to readings and discussion, students visited two performance venues, had several in-
class visits from artists and industry professionals, organized a performance, and most important, engaged with an artist-in-residence (Vince Anthony), a local singer/songwriter/ producer who attended every class. As students learned about the functions of a management team and record label, they acted as a team to write press kits, develop artistic statements, build a social media campaign, plan and execute a music video shoot, and understand the role of contemporary radio in music promotion. Students also visited, interacted with, and learned about four local activist organizations: the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts, OURchive, the One Art Community Center, and Musiqology Rx.
Students reported that they enjoyed learning about the music industry from many
angles—theoretically, practically and historically, and that they had been particularly excited to
interact with living artists and producers who shared their insights from their varied
perspectives. The artists reported that they felt it was invaluable to have been exposed to
academic discussions each week, because it afforded them a type of discourse and focus that they find hard to come by in the daily grind of hustling resources to make and market their art.
Listen to more of Vince Anthony's works on Soundcloud.
Learn more about Prof. Guthrie Ramsey's work in the Department of Music.
PENN MUSEUM 336
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