Columbia Faculty Reveal Keys to the Trade in New Book on Music Marketing

How experience and partnership inspired two BUSE faculty members to write the book they wished they saw in the world.

Musician, Business and Entrepreneurship Faculty Member, and Co-author of It’s All About the Music Marketing, Stupid Kent Anderson is the first to dispel the idea that there is, as he says, “Some secret sauce that’s going to tell you how to get 500 million plays as an artist.” There isn’t. “There is no secret sauce,” he says, chuckling. But there are ways to become familiar with strategic grassroots marketing initiatives that can help you build a community of fans who will support you over many years in your career.

“We talk about finding a tribe,” Anderson says. Co-author, musician, Associate Professor, and Interim Chair of the Business and Entrepreneurship Department at Columbia College Chicago Jerry Brindisi agrees that being able to find a sustainable way to create content as an artist and then market that content is key to the interests of many Columbia students. “A lot of students come to the business department to learn about the music industry, but they are artists and musicians,” Brindisi says. “Artists are expected at this point to be doing their own marketing, to be running their own businesses.”

That’s where It’s All About the Music Marketing, Stupid comes in. Both Anderson and Brindisi, as musicians, recall years of trial and error in developing tactics to reach their audiences. They also acknowledge the lack of material in the higher education space that targets music marketing specifically. Brindisi remembers with alacrity a point early in his career when audiences would sing songs he’d written back to him and then ask for a recording of those songs. “I didn’t know anything about that!” Brindisi says. “Eventually, I said, ‘I want to learn more about how the real business works.’” That led him to attending the Music Business master’s program at New York University and working with Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.

For Anderson, who grew up playing piano, trumpet, and bass guitar, the journey to the music business grew out of his experience in music retail while also playing as a professional freelance bassist. Eventually he began working for labels, and held positions with Virgin Records, GRP, N2K, and was President of A440 Music Group. Still, in teaching the Business of Music, Entertainment Marketing, and Decision Making: Music Business at Columbia College Chicago, he realized that there was a hole in the literature. “There’s a book called All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Don Passman,” Anderson says. “It’s in its fourteenth edition, and it’s a definitive music business book. But here we were, at Columbia, with a music marketing course that we couldn’t find a curriculum for. It made sense, in my opinion to write a book for that course. And that’s how this project came about.”

At the heart of this book, Anderson says, is the idea that you can create a sustainable career with the tools that you have and the audience that your work uniquely resonates with. "Forget the idea that you can market to everybody because you simply can’t - you don't have enough money, resources, or time,” Anderson says. But the beauty of that advice is that you don’t need to. You just need to identify and market to your core audience. And that’s exactly what It’s All About the Music Marketing, Stupid, aims to do.

For Anderson and Brindisi, the publication of their seminal text is just the beginning. When asked about what comes next for these educators, entrepreneurs, and musicians, Brindisi cracks an affable grin: “the Second Edition,” he says. Anderson smiles. “I couldn’t agree with Jerry more,” he replies.