Thinking Out Loud: Modelling Music Makers’ Decision-Making

Flynn, Mathew
(2019) Thinking Out Loud: Modelling Music Makers’ Decision-Making. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Thinking Out Loud: Modelling Music Makers’ Decision-Making Research on decision-making in the music industries is a new and emerging field. The few studies conducted to date have focused mainly on the activities of music industry practitioners and how they make business decisions. As yet, research has not focused directly on the decision-making of musicians. This research begins to address this gap by conducting a survey with five-hundred UK-based music makers, from all genres and income levels, about the types of decisions they make and how they make them. The impetus for the national survey was to test the design of a decision-making model generated over a sustained period teaching music business and music undergraduates. This model adopts a holistic approach to how music makers devise and develop music projects and careers from inception through to remuneration. The research findings confirmed the effectiveness of the model’s design as an integrative sense-making framework that reduces the complexity of music maker project/career decision-making by focusing on five key sequential decision categories: Role – The decisions made by music makers when pursuing personal aspirations and ambitions manifest themselves by fulfilling distinct and different roles across a range of collaborative music projects throughout a portfolio career; Repertoire – Music projects are, and can only be, market-focused. Decisions about how to manage music projects are constrained by a combination of factors and elements: firstly, by the market status and function of the person(s) performing the project role(s), and secondly by the types of music products and messages the project produces and owns; Representation – Decisions need to be made about how to manage projects. Here the aim is to acquire and build reputations through the mechanism of market engagement. In the music industry this is accomplished by endeavouring to deliver experiences that meet the expectations of other music professionals and audiences as constrained by the project’s market location and degree of success; Reputation – Projects, and each individual within them, must decide how to react to the range of outcomes generated by engagement with markets, in ways that maintain, enhance and increase the market’s perception of the project’s brand value and, within it, each given individual’s reputation; Remuneration – Decisions concerning the translation of the brand and reputational value generated by the project into the contractually agreed economic shares of revenue, split between the functions and roles within the project and accruing to each individual. Whilst developing and testing the 5R decision model was the focus of the research, in exploring the decision data it became clear that subconscious cognitive biases that affect all human decision-making were evident in music makers’ reasoning. Key themes such as overconfidence in expected outcomes, underestimating the levels of risk in uncertain markets, and framing marketing decisions as musical ones all limited the effectiveness of music maker decision-making. These observations led to the conclusion that the survey research established a proof of concept for the decision-making model while future research could explore the 5R model’s development and implementation in pedagogic and professional contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2020 08:57
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 23:49
DOI: 10.17638/03090205
  • Jones, Michael
  • Strachan, Robert