New online course gives inside look at the music business

Taught by veteran musician and Vanderbilt Blair School of Music professor Jen Gunderman

Available now at

April 6, 2016, Nashville, TN – A new massive online open course (MOOC) will give music fans the opportunity to learn from veteran Nashville musician and Vanderbilt Blair School of Music professor Jen Gunderman about the music industry in the United States, with the unique perspective gained by Vanderbilt University’s location in Nashville, Tennessee.

The course, “Understanding the Music Business: What Is Music Worth?”, is offered through the Coursera platform. All course content is free and open to the public. In addition, the on-demand format allows learners to sample any or all of the material, in any order they wish, on their on time schedule.

Drawing from her extensive experience as a recording and touring musician, Gunderman created and produced the course to provide a broad outline of the various segments of the music industry, which have been evolving quickly during the digital age, and to encourage learners to think critically and entrepreneurially about these changes. “My whole motivation was to offer free information to musicians and music fans, and to spark discussion about the way that music is valued in the digital age,” she said.

With the help of the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, Gunderman filmed both traditional lectures and twelve on-location segments featuring interviews with educators, the Nashville musicians’ union president, and entrepreneurs including recording studio and club owners, a radio station owner, an artist services company president, a production/tour manager, and a performing rights organization executive. Additional highlights from the location shoots include a new cylinder recording created on an original 19th-century mechanical (non-electric) Edison machine, and a behind the scenes look at the home studio recording session for the course theme song titled “What’s It Worth?”, which Gunderman composed specifically for the project. (Read more about these visits here.)

Participants will grapple with questions about art and commerce which are both timeless and crucially important today, and will emerge from this course with tools allowing them to make more informed decisions as creators, promoters, and consumers of music.

Click here to enroll:

About Jen Gunderman:
Jen Gunderman divides her time between teaching, performing, and recording. She is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School Of Music, specializing in American popular music history courses, but she is also an active studio session musician and producer, and she plays keyboards and sings regularly with several groups based in Nashville, most often with Sheryl Crow. She is also the host and director of the interview series Conversations at Blair, whose guests have included Peter Frampton, Sheryl Crow, and Robben Ford.
As a classical piano major at Vassar College, she also completed studies in Germany at the Heidelberg-Mannhaim Hochschule fur Musik, the Goethe Institut, and the University of Mannheim, and was admitted to the Phi Beta Kappa Society. After graduating from Vassar, she worked for a few years in the A&R department of Columbia Records/Sony in NYC, and then went to Seattle and earned an M.A. in ethnomusiology from the University of Washington.

After graduate school, she toured with rock bands Dag (Columbia Records), the Jayhawks (American/Columbia Records), and the artist Caitlin Cary (Yep Roc Records) full time for several years, and since then has performed and recorded with a diverse variety of musicians, playing various keyboards and/or singing with Kris Kristofferson, Michael McDonald, Chris Robinson (Black Crowes), Roger McGuinn (Byrds), Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), Exene Cervenka (X), Loretta Lynn, The Dixie Chicks, St. Vincent (Annie Clark), Steve Cropper (Booker T & the MGs), Willie Nelson, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, Don Was, Duane Eddy, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, and many others. She has performed at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center, NYC), Royal Albert Hall (London, UK), and the Ryman Auditorium, as well as in clubs, theaters, festivals, amphitheaters, and sports arenas. She has recorded for major and independent record labels, has produced independent albums, has recorded on numerous independent recording projects, and has appeared on radio and television shows in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Colbert Report, The View, Good Morning America, La Voix, the BBC, and others.

She lives in Nashville with her husband, guitar player and songwriter Audley Freed.

SOURCE: Jen Gunderman