Oberlin Center for Convergence (StudiOC)

"Takin' Care of Business": Music and Money

Artistic Subversion and Market Dynamism

Photo of Kathryn Metz
Kathryn Metz
photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones '97
Photo of Eric Lin
Eric Lin
photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones '97


"Takin' Care of Business": Music and Money

offered spring 2023

The music industry constantly innovates and adapts to its surroundings, as do most industries. Unique to music business models, however, is their frequent subversion of expectations. Another singularity for the music business is that artists themselves often drive the dynamism of business models. This StudiOC learning community collaboration between Business and Musical Studies will offer students an introduction to business through the lens of the history of popular music. Students will gain both an understanding of the basics of business and the methodologies for understanding popular music history, particularly as it has intersected with industry and business practices.


Course Instructors for this learning community are Director of Musical Studies, Kathryn Metz, and Associate Professor of Business, Eric Lin.

Kathryn Metz, Instructor

CAST 106:  Rock History: Subversion and Innovation

Meets: Tuesday and Thursday, 11 AM - 12:15 PM

Rock and roll mirrors, responds, and reacts to distinctly American* trends, politics, movements, and economies. An art form deeply rooted in capitalism, racism, and sexism, much of popular music's success depends on cultural appropriation, centered on commercialism and industrialized production models. In this course, we will trace the history of rock and roll through case studies of subversive and innovative music business models, from the sheet music empire of Tin Pan Alley to the earliest Black-owned management companies like Sam Cooke's SAR Records; from trailblazing women-run record labels like Florence Greenberg's Scepter Records to the unparalleled success of singular Black sounds of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International. 

Eric Lin, Instructor

BUSI 101: Introduction to Business

Meets: Tuesday, 7:00 - 8:50 PM 

Introduction to Business provides broad exposure to the thinking, best practices, analytical tools, and vocabulary employed in today's business world. Students will work independently and, as in the business world, in small collaborative teams. The approach of this course is practical, experience-based, and hands-on. Since each class participant already has direct experience as a customer of various business enterprises and has also observed others in their interactions with organizations of all kinds, each student will bring these experiences to bear as part of the learning process.