Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music

The Clive Davis Institute aims to provide students with the necessary skills — business, creative, and intellectual — so that they might emerge as visionary creative entrepreneurs in the evolving music industry.

Students are encouraged to develop innovative musical ideas and envision new music business models, work collaboratively, cultivate both intellectual rigor and a willingness to experiment artistically, and to assume leadership roles in the art and commerce of creating and selling recorded music.

Recorded Music Courses

To register for the following courses, students should request our courses below using the Clive Davis Institute non-major request form.

The Basics of Social Entrepreneurship

REMU-UT 1269 | 2 units | Instructor: Check Albert

This introductory course is targeted to all students who have a strong sense of their individual purpose and are motivated to change the world through music. In this course, students learn about social entrepreneurs, how they think, the problems they address, the business tools they leverage and the strategies they employ to create social change.  

Through readings, participatory class discussions, class activities, self-reflection and occasional guest speakers, students examine current issues, opportunities and challenges that social entrepreneurs and their ventures face. In addition, they acquire skills, actionable tools, and practical approaches to help advance their social change agenda now and in the future. Ultimately, the aim is to inspire and empower students to put their ideas for social change into action and to start manifesting the change they wish to see in the world.

View Course Schedule in Albert

Funding Your Music Venture

REMU-UT 1227 | 4 units | Instructor: Check Albert

This course targets all students who are serious about and ready to fund a project. Together, we will learn about different funding types and sources, as well as demystify how the funding process works. Through a blend of readings, class discussions, practical assignments, and guest speakers, you will have the knowledge, practical understanding, and an actionable plan to bring your project to life, now or in the future.

View Course Schedule in Albert

The Future of Streaming

REMU-UT 1231 | 2 units | Instructor: Stein Bjelland

Streaming Economy represents a great paradigm shift in the music industry and its monetization. In 2013, digital streaming of music replaced the CD as the main source of music sales and has provided economic hope to a – commercially speaking – weakening industry. However, with artists such as Thom Yorke, The Black Keys, David Byrne and many others speaking out against the royalty of streaming services like Spotify, streaming, in its current structure, as a permanent replacement for CD and digital download sales remains a controversial subject.

Through this course the student will be guided through the history of streaming, the controversies surrounding its business model, and the technology that made it possible. Students will be introduced to the new storefront of online music and be shown how the digital marketplace is changing music marketing and artist development. Streaming offers exciting new opportunities along with serious and complex challenges. This course will examine the pros and cons of the current streaming status quo.

Students will practice techniques of releasing music online through a hands-on workshop, which will lead them through the beginning steps of registering, and releasing their own project via Phonofile and WiMP on all major platforms and services.

View Course Schedule in Albert

Hip-Hop History, Music, & Culture

REMU-UT 1197 | 2 units | Instructor: Daniel Charnas

This will be a class exploring some of the major non-musical influencers of hip-hop (Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor, Bruce Lee, etc). Class will look at how these figures shaped the culture of hip-hop as it was in its infancy. Students will also learn how to write about culture at a conceptual level. The central questions of the class: How did we arrive at the contemporary state of hip-hop? Who are the icons who were shaping hip-hop before it was born?

View Course Schedule on Albert

Popular Music & Protest in the 21st Century

REMU-UT 1157 | 4 units | Instructor: Matthew D Morrison

The aim of this course is to explore how popular music has been used as an instrument of protest, with a special focus on twenty-first century developments. Although the 1960s is often regarded as the “golden era” of protest music in the United States, many events that have occurred in and outside the nation since 9/11 have led contemporary pop musicians to accept the charge left by musician and activist Nina Simone: “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” Thinking through significant American events—including, but not limited to, September 11th, 2001 (“9/11”), the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial crisis, same-sex marriage debates, global warming debates, the Presidential election(s) of Barack Obama, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the nomination of Donald Trump as the 2016 Republican Presidential candidate, and—this course will consider the following questions: What constitutes “protest music” in contemporary popular culture? How do artists create music that inspires others to resist, exist within, or even recognize structures and systems that limit the freedoms of individuals and communities throughout society? How are “isms” and “phobias,” such as racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc., addressed in popular music, and what are the aesthetic, lyrical, and performative characteristics that contribute to the creation and reception of that music? How have technological developments (i.e., the Internet, social media, streaming music, etc.) impacted the way in which artists, producers, and consumers use music as a tool for social activism and protest? What are the possibilities and limitations of protest music within the global capitalist economy in which popular music circulates?

View Course Schedule in Albert

Topics in Recorded Music: Motown

REMU-UT 1129 | 2 units | Instructor: Matthew D Morrison

Started in 1959 in Detroit by songwriter and then budding entrepreneur Berry Gordy, Motown quickly became dubbed "Hitsville USA," as it served as home to artists like The Supremes, The Temptations, Mary Wells, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Martha and the Vandellas, Michael Jackson and the Four Tops, to name a few. Motown literally changed the concept of the record label and redefined the very idea of entrepreneurship in recorded music, serving as core inspiration to artists from The Beatles to Beyonce. Motown's incredible legacy of success served a crucial role in helping to integrate popular music and thereby helped to rewrite the narrative of race and class in America.

One of the greatest examples of an artist expanding the boundaries of his art, of his company's limitations, of the public's expectations, and subsequently of what it meant to be a pop artist, is the album What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, issued by Motown in spring 1971. As we narrow our focus to study this album  its roots, its creation, the difficulty with its release, its astonishing success  students will be introduced to the legacy of Motown Records. Readings, class lectures, guest speakers, video and audio clips will answer the questions, Who was Marvin Gaye? How did he get to a place where felt he needed to create this album? Why was it difficult for him to get the song and the album released? What was Motown doing politically the years before? What was company policy that created an issue around the album content? What did it mean to be an artist and a producer at Motown or not?

View Course Schedule in Albert

Recorded Music Courses Offered Through Open Arts

Non-majors may register for the following courses through Open Arts (OART-UT). Certain courses require instructor approval. Non-majors should follow all registration instructions as outlined in Albert.

The Basics of Social Entrepreneurship

REMU-UT 1269 | 2 units | Instructor: Lauren B Davis

This introductory course is targeted to all students who have a strong sense of their individual purpose and are motivated to change the world through music. In this course, students learn about social entrepreneurs, how they think, the problems they address, the business tools they leverage and the strategies they employ to create social change. Through readings, participatory class discussion, class activities, self-reflection and occasional guest speakers, students examine current issues, opportunities and challenges that social entrepreneurs and their ventures face. In addition, they acquire skills, actionable tools, and practical approaches to help advance their social change agenda now and in the future. Ultimately, the aim is to inspire and empower students to put their ideas for social change in to action and to start manifesting the change they wish to see in the world.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

The Business of Music Licensing

REMU-UT 1240 | 2 units | Instructor: Elyse Dannay

Music supervision and music licensing are two of the hottest topics in the music business. This class will focus on both and help you understand the ins and outs of music supervision and the nuts and bolts of music licensing. We will look at how music supervision can benefit the artist, the manager, the label, the publisher, as well as study all possible players in the music supervision and licensing worlds. We will learn the rules that govern music licensing, or the business side, to the creative engine fueled by music supervision. We will understand topics like music publishing, clearances, budgets, and the art of pitching music for licensing opportunities. We will look at all of the platforms where music is supervised and licensed, including film, television, advertising, video games, and more. We will also discuss the impact of music supervision from a creative perspective by looking at case studies such as Lorde curating the Hunger Games Soundtrack, the music side of The Tonight Show, Apple using Hudson Mohawke's music in their advertisement campaign, and how DJ Hero changed the landscape of music in video games forever. The final class project will involve supervising and licensing music in real-time, using all of the knowledge gained in class, and applying it to the real world.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

CDI Music Incubator

REMU-UT 1104 | 4 units | Instructor: Errol Kolosine

This course is an independently funded incubator where enrolled students will serve as the support structure for selected Clive Davis Institute artist projects. By augmenting or acting as the selected artist’s team, students work closely with the instructor, the artist and invited music industry collaborators to provide real time support which may include management, label services, marketing and promotion, publicity, A&R, creative direction, branding and vision, social media, business planning, content creation and day-to-day logistics. Students will be given a budget to coordinate and execute agreed and defined strategies and plans created in conjunction with the artist, with the goal of furthering the artist's career development.

This course is open to non-majors: Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors only. To request enrollment, email the instructor, errolk@nyu.edu: a) your resume and b) a statement outlining why you are qualified to be part of this Incubator course. Be sure and include your year and major(s) and what your potential contribution would be to an artist. NOTE: No students will be admitted after the first class.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Creativity in Context, A Deeper Look

OART-UT 1200 | 2 units | Instructor: JD Samson

As with Creativity in Context 1 in which the purpose of the course is to contextualize the core curriculum of the The Clive Davis Institute to incoming first year students, this course delves deeper into the exploration of creativity throughout various disciplines and career structures. In opening this course to the NYU community, we will be linking academic disciplines, philosophy, and culture to creativity and discovery in practice. The course will offer seven workshop style lecture/conversations with senior faculty, and working artists or professionals who have traveled an varied journey throughout their careers. This exposure to, and opportunity for a deeper conversation, will lead students to better understand the relationship between academic study & self-development, artistic & commercial achievement, as well as coupling art and industry with politics and current events.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

The Future of the Music Streaming Economy

REMU-UT 1231 | 2 units | Instructor: Stein Bjelland

Streaming Economy represents a great paradigm shift in the music industry and its monetization. In 2013, digital streaming of music replaced the CD as the main source of music sales and has provided economic hope to a – commercially speaking - weakening industry. However, with artists such as Thom Yorke, The Black Keys, David Byrne and many others speaking out against the royalty of streaming services like Spotify, streaming, in its current structure, as a permanent replacement for CD and digital download sales remains a controversial subject. Through this course the student will be guided through the history of streaming, the controversies surrounding its business model, and the technology that made it possible. Students will be introduced to the new storefront of online music and be shown how the digital marketplace is changing music marketing and artist development. Streaming offers exciting new opportunities along with serious and complex challenges. This course will examine the pros and cons of the current streaming status quo. The student will practice techniques of releasing music online through a hands-on workshop, which will lead them through the beginning steps of registering, and releasing their own project via Phonofile and WiMP on all major platforms and services.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Interpreting Industry Trends: Tunes, Tech, and Legal Tender

REMU-UT 1210 | 2 units | Instructor: Marc S Plotkin

With sales of more than 1.3 billion, the German recorded music market is the third largest in the world: it is larger than the UK music market and behind only the USA and Japan. Beyond just numbers, the Berlin music business is unique: it’s home to hundreds of powerful independent and D.I.Y. record labels; it’s historically been ground zero for innovative electronic and dance music; and it’s a burgeoning tech hub for innovative software/hardware companies like Native Instruments, Ableton and Soundcloud. In this colloquium series, students will meet and hear each week from key creative entrepreneurial figures and innovators in the German and European music business.

This course has several purposes. First, students will consider how ongoing economic and technological changes might be impacting the worldwide music business, as speakers discuss controversial trends like the rise of cryptocurrency, block chain and cashless systems, customization technologies like 3D printing and developments in robotics, and radical, disruptive approaches to copyright. Second, students will develop a greater understanding of the chief similarities and differences between the traditional European and US music business operations, particularly with regard to label operations, publishing and copyright, touring and festivals, and nightlife promotion.

Third, students will become more informed about the D.I.Y. music business in Berlin itself, as they hear from speakers about the promises and challenges one faces in launching innovative music start ups in Germany. And finally, students will get to meet and network with key movers and shakers in the Berlin scene, past and present. In anticipation for a guest class visit, students may be required to investigate websites, read biographical or contextual material, or attend events outside of class time. Students will be expected to ask informed questions of the guests and to develop responses throughout the course of the class.

Students should leave the class with a greater understanding of how the European and German music businesses work and how they themselves might make a business or sales impact on a global scale.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Music Licensing Lab

REMU-UT 1241 | 2 units | Instructor: Check Albert

Music supervision and music licensing are two of the hottest topics in the music business. This class will introduce you to the creative, financial, legal, and technical sides of music supervision as well as teach you the nuts and bolts of music clearance and licensing. We will look at the many different facets of a music supervisor’s job, and the services they provide for all types of media projects, including film, television, advertising, video games, online/apps, and more. If you aspire to have a career as a music supervisor, licensor, publisher, artist, songwriter, composer, producer, and/or creative entrepreneur, this course is for you. Some of the topics include: breaking into the field, opportunities for music placement, how to pitch and get your music placed, different parties involved in all sides of the licensing transaction. You will be exposed to complex business challenges that music supervisors face and learn the mindset and strategies needed to successfully overcome. Through readings, discussions, lab assignments, and case studies like Straight Outta Compton and Broad City, as well interactions with special guests, you will gain a real-world understanding of the music supervision field as well as the many opportunities that music creators, and rights owners can leverage to take their career to the next level by understanding music licensing.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Reimagining the Music Industry

REMU-UT 1171 | 4 units | Instructor: Daniel Charnas

This 14-week colloquium puts students in direct conversation with executives, entrepreneurs, and artists to answer the question: What would a truly equitable music business look like for Black Americans? The music business was founded in the early 1900s, in the midst of the Jim Crow era, and the modern industry still retains its contours. Segmented into market sectors which segregate both artists and executives by race and ethnicity, the business of music — by structure and design — continues to place white executives in charge of marketing a culture largely derived from Black Americans, while placing artists and executives of color in marginalized positions. And yet, the narrative of the music business has not been one of constant defeat for Black Americans. In fact, most of the progress out of Jim Crow has been the result of a succession of Black entrepreneurial successes and victories; and these strategies give us also a great sense of possibility. The American music industry, like so many other institutions, is currently being challenged by coalitions and initiatives, as never before, to confront and overcome its deep structural inequities. Racism is far from the only problem: There is the systematic diminishment and exclusion of women; patriarchy and sexism are twinned with and reinforce white dominance. Instead of incremental reform, what actions could we take, both inside and outside the business, to create more radical models that no longer disenfranchise Black people, diminish women, and center whiteness? The final projects will put these ideas into the forms of actionable proposals and business plans.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Telling Your Story in Sound

REMU-UT 1006 | 2 units | Instructor: Jim Anderson

Storytelling and the gift of listening are critical skills that can be developed and a podcast can be more than a monologue or an interview. A podcast can be a rich environment for using sound to tell a story. Sound can be used in many ways, whether it is used to set the scene, illustrate a concept, or enliven a journalistic situation. The course will introduce students to the power of sound to illustrate and enrich a podcast, through listening and production. Weekly listening and assignments will be presented and discussed in class to encourage and inspire.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Topics in Recorded Music: Amy Winehouse/Erykah Badu

REMU-UT 1158 | 2 units | Instructor: Check Albert

British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse had a relatively short musical career in the 2000s and 2010s before her passing — only two studio albums in total — but the impact she left on global popular culture remains revelatory. Merging vintage jazz and old school R&B with contemporary trends in pop, and hip-hop songwriting and production, vocalist Winehouse broke provocative new ground as a fledgling songwriter on her first album Frank (perhaps most notably on the genius single “ Fuck Me Pumps” co-written by producer Salaam Remi); then rose to prominence on the heels of her Mark Ronson produced 2007 Back to Black, a Grammy-winning album featuring trenchant autobiography, Motown and Phil Spector era girl-group sounds, insouciant dance tunes, and stark heart-torn balladry, delivered with Brit-punk irreverence. Though her life was cut tragically short by addiction issues, Winehouse is emblematic of several trends coming together at once: the Brit-pop resurgence of the late 2000s (Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae, Adele, Duffy, etc.), the decade’s retromania for nostalgic sounds, the return of a neo Ronnie Spector ‘bad girl’ culture in pop music, a post-feminist appropriation of punk rock arrogance, and the insurgence of a stylized all-genres approach to pop consistent with the “anything goes” rise of YouTube and streaming service culture.

However, Winehouse did not rise to popularity in a vacuum. Though jazz songstresses like Billie Holiday are often cited as Winehouse’s influences, she herself has cited Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, and Texas-born Young Disciple expat Carleen Anderson, as singers she admired; moreover, the so-called “neo-soul” and black bohemian artists of the late 1980s and 1990s created the immediate template that made space for the ascent of Winehouse in the 2000s. In particular, Dallas-reared singer-songwriter Erykah Badu deserves significant recognition for fusing together jazz, R&B, and hip-hop in the late 1990s around old-school solutions. Late 1990s and early 2000s classic albums like Baduizm and Mama’s Gun created the stylistic arena in which those aforementioned singers of the late 2000s would experiment, and Badu’s underappreciated late 2000s New Amerykah sets — to say nothing of her iconic fashion and boho-spiritual Soulquarian style — would provide the template for Black Lives Matter informed, art-as-activism, albums which would arrive in the next decade by artists like Solange, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar.

From different sides of the pond, and born of different eras, Badu and Winehouse can be seen as symbolic sister rebels cut from the same punky, irreverent, revolutionary spirit. This class primarily juxtaposes the two icons, illuminating the historical tensions between whiteness and blackness; between vaudeville and the black chitlin’ circuit, between Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Building, between an individualistic, anarchic British Jewish woman and a collective-minded, post-Hip Hop Dallas-born African-American “race woman.”

Each session in this two-credit, seven-class course will include readings, listening, multimedia presentations and performances, plus a variety of special guests, to help explore the music and life of both of these icons, and where they intersect, from a variety of perspectives.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

Topics in Recorded Music: Gami

REMU-UT 1155 | 2 units | Instructor: Check Albert

Fortnite’s concerts with Marshmello and Travis Scott. Open Pit’s DIY music festivals in Minecraft. League of Legends’ K-pop and hip-hop groups. Indie label Monstercat’s deals with Rocket League and Roblox. Sony Music’s gaming imprint Lost Rings. Grand Theft Auto’s 75 billion minutes of in-game music listening. “Fantasy record label” apps like FanLabel that allow fans to assemble their own “brackets” of artists that they think will do best on the charts. These are just a handful of examples of how music and games are increasingly overlapping as industries, experiences and cultures. There are strong mutual incentives at play: Game developers are blooming into full-fledged media brands and are looking to the music business for both financial and cultural capital, while music companies are looking to diversify their revenue, experiment with more interactive technologies and tap into the power of highly engaged communities online. In the process, this merging of entertainment worlds is also rewriting conventional wisdom of what it means to be an artist, a performer, gamer and especially a fan. This course will give students the critical frameworks and vocabulary to dissect how games are being incorporated into every corner of the music industry — from the moment music is created, to the strategies that inform how music is then disseminated, marketed, monetized and performed. We will draw from a combination of theoretical readings and real-world case studies to dissect video games that center music in their player experience on the one hand, and musical projects that draw direct inspiration from games in their approaches to design, marketing, business and fan engagement on the other hand. Because this field is relatively new, many of these case studies may emerge in real time as the course unfolds.

This course will be reading-, writing- and play-intensive, with required and suggested games and soundtracks for students to play, watch or listen to every week. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to workshop their own creative, marketing and/or business strategies for hybrid music/game projects, walking away with a concrete plan of action for incorporating the fast-paced gaming industry into their own careers.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert

The Visual Music Experience

REMU-UT 1228 | 2 units | Instructor: Marc S Plotkin

From Concept Album films of the 1960s to the MTV revolution of the 1980s and 1990s to the innovations of YouTube and Virtual Reality, this class will examine how the convergence of visual and auditory mediums has created some of the most impactful art. We’ll extract the great lessons from the pieces we study and utilize our production skills to create videos, on-stage visuals, and songs of our own. We’ll also investigate how the creation of videos alongside songs has disrupted the marketing and sales fates for the music industry multiple times. If you’re interested in the convergence of visual art, music, technology, and business, you’ll have fun in this class.

View Course Schedule and Registration Instructions in Albert