Stanley Dwight (Henley Business School)

Shining a Light on Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

What are the competencies required of the music industry over the next 5 to 10 years?

This research study takes a strategic UK perspective on the future competencies required by a global music industry workforce if it is to capitalise on the opportunities now emerging. The paper contributes to existing knowledge by taking the research of Mietzner & Kamprath (2013) undertaken for the “creative industries” and developing it further for the sub-­‐sector of the “music industry”. Following an extensive literature review, a qualitative study was designed and interviews conducted with 19 senior music industry executives over a period of three months with the aim of discovering what the future skills and competencies of the music industry might be over the next 5 to 10 years. By taking a strategic approach, the study develops a competency portfolio for music professionals and further adds to the research of Mietzner & Kamprath (2013) by discussing how these competencies might be developed and the extent to which that burden should be shared across various parties.

Findings from the research suggest that there are four key forces or themes influencing industry development and competency requirement: (1) Migration of value creation, (2) Industry structure, (3) Working and learning cultures and (4) Power and control. Central to all four is the common thread of “vision”.

As a precursor to developing the competency profile, the research concludes that

(1) a re-­‐conceptualisation of the industry is required to take account of these four identified forces and (2) in order to address them, the industry might need to consider a new operating model; one that is driven by vision and shared values, and supports more congruent industry structures, processes and systems.

A key component of this new paradigm is a requirement for more relevant industry skills and competencies which are summarised as a competency portfolio. This is intended to give guidance to educational providers and the music industry itself as to the existence of performance gaps and provide direction of competency development. It proposes that there are 3 critical success factors to effective and prosperous evolution: (1) Vision, (2) Learning to learn and (3) Critical and analytical thinking.

The paper ends with a discussion on aspects of competency development. For educational providers, it recommends courses that are broader in their scope, focus more on problem solving, have a higher emphasis on soft skills and are less theoretical in content. Music companies are recommended to implement continuous learning programs with greater input from other sectors and industries.


Stan has worked in the music industry for the last 25 years, in records (London Records Ltd) and publishing (Chrysalis PLC). He was a member of the inaugural cohort for the MBA (Music & Creative Industries) at Henley Business School in 2012