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End Of An Era: MusicTank Closes

After 15+ incredible years, with profound sadness I am sorry to announce that MusicTank is closing.  This closure is with immediate effect and its website will no longer be updated, but remain for archive purposes.

MusicTank was born in 2003 in a response to Government insistence that universities must do more than teach and undertake scholarly research, mandating them to better connect with industry. The higher education sector calls this activity Knowledge Transfer – a process that opens up universities to industry, to help businesses solve problems and challenges and afford opportunities to academics and students.

Recognising that the music industry was going through profound change to its core business model at a time when it was being overtaken by the evolution of distribution that, for the first time in its history, was pretty much outside of its control, Westminster’s launch of MusicTank was a bold move. With so little publicly accessible, industry-wide debate or analysis seemingly addressing the oncoming challenges of digitisation, our remit was to challenge the industry and in so-doing, help navigate these uncharted waters of digital disintermediation from a politically and commercially neutral standpoint.

I like to think that our work has shown by example, the very real positive impact higher education can bring to bear on industry. Our think tank debates consistently delivered high-level debate that probed beneath the headlines, in the process pulling in more than 400 speakers from core music industry through to policy makers, regulators and Government Ministers. Emboldened by our sustained success, moving into report commissioning, publishing, and more recently contract research, was a natural extension of our work, which engaged students and academics as much as it did the world of music business.

Our successes are too many to mention, but knowing we made a real difference to discourse around the Licensing Act Reform 2003…kickstarted the debate on secondary ticketing with Viagogo’s Eric Baker (2008) and were one of the first to successfully bring the worlds of recorded music, telcos, service providers and Government into a room to publicly consider monetising filesharing (2008), DRM (remember that?), not forgetting the controversy surrounding CD Covermounts, and the economics of streaming (2014) are particular highlights in a lengthy list of subjects put under the spotlight.

Latterly, our impactful research was equally successful – our work on the night time economy for the Mayor of London has directly informed the GLA’s vision and policy around its move to make London a 24-hour city. Most impressive of all was providing the largest known academic study of its kind on musicians’ mental health – Can Music Make You Sick? – which became the backbone for Help Musicians UK’s brilliant #MusicMindsMatter Campaign, launched in 2017.

MusicTank has very much been the sum of its parts – my thanks to the University of Westminster for supporting a unique and far-sighted venture and to a small but perfectly formed team, over the years comprising Keith Harris, Sam Shemtob, and Jenny Tyler.

Last but not least, my profound thanks to everyone who has supported us along the way – as event attendees, report buyers, subscribers, sponsors, members and research clients.

To mangle a Chinese saying, MusicTank has absolutely lived in interesting times!

Signing off for the last time.

Jonathan Robinson, Programme Director, MusicTank
31st October 2018


Jonathan has left the University to explore new opportunities. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Any questions regarding this announcement should be directed to dcdicollegesupport@westminster.ac.uk