Michael M. Pearson John W. Barnes Scott Fredrickson
Loyola University New Orleans
This paper focuses on the business of merchandising music products. The paper also focuses on the experience of presenting music business materials to music students, whose background tends to be very different from business or fashion merchandising students. We will:
Our goals in creating these exercises were to:
• Present only as much material in each exercise as can be absorbed by the student.
We feel that teaching with exercises is a relatively underdeveloped classroom tool that has great value for the area of music merchandising.
Teaching with exercises can be viewed as an experiential pedagogy. Experiential, or problem-based teaching has long been advocated, particularly in classes where individual deci-sion-making and the development of problem-solving skills is deemed important (Kolb, 1986; Salvador, Countryman, and Miller, 1995). This approach allows for the teaching of problem-solv-ing to achieve multiple goals by way of realistic scenarios presented to the students, coupled with both immediate and practice feedback (Salvador, et al., 1995). This type of teaching assumes that students will respond to and more favorably assimilate personal experiences than to exercises they know are controlled by the instructor, where they believe they cannot truly alter outcomes (Kolb, 1986).
Examples of the effective use of experiential scenarios in teaching business—and particularly marketing—concepts are becoming more common. Southwestern College Publishing Company sponsors a web site, Great Ideas for Teaching Marketing, that regularly calls for examples from instructors in the field (Southwestern College Publishing, 2001). Among these are a pricing exercise (Mark-Up and Its Relation to Gross Profit), and an experiential scenario created by Prof. Jenni Peters at Louisiana State University (“Location Analysis and Site Selection for a Retail Store”). This last exercise requires students to create a hypothetical store, for which they are responsible. They are divided into location consultant groups, responsible for evaluating retail sites within an assigned trading area, selecting the site and defending their rationale for the site selection.
Teaching with exercises can also be placed within the structure of Bloom’s (1956) Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives (Clabaugh, Forbes and Clabaugh, 1995). In this classic educational work, Bloom and his committee defined six levels in which cognitively related objectives may be categorized: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Several key words have been identified for each level in deciding on what level an objective is located. (Erwin, 1991, pp. 39-40):
Classroom lecture would fall under category one, where students are expected to relate back in assignments and exams what has been professed by the instructor. Application, where the student must apply the principles learned in class to a real-world situation falls into a middle level category. The exercises presented here might be classified as experiential exercises, but this definition might be too restrictive. Experiential exercises are based upon the premise that students learn better from an experience than simply having the results of these experiences being related back to them through lecture. This type of pedagogy brings learning to a higher level than simply lecture or application.
There are three stages to teaching with exercises:
The emphasis in teaching with these music merchandising exercises is to have the students bring out merchandising principles rather than simply presenting these in lecture for the student to either relate back in an exam (category one objectives) or to apply in a real-world situation (category three objectives). The difference is that in these exercises the marketing principles needed to solve the exercises are not presented to the group before the exercise is administered. The fact that students are learning the key merchandising principles through direct experience with these exercises should result in a higher level of learning (probably at a category five, or synthesis, level).
The exercises presented are similar to ones that have been used many times with business and fashion merchandising students in retailing courses within a marketing unit in a college of business administration. These exercises have been modified for a music merchandising class that has only been taught once to date. Therefore, this paper will not be presenting quantitative findings. It will be presenting our adapted exercises, and relating our observations as to differing reactions between music and traditional merchandising students. Our goal is to share these exercises and observations with music business educators who might find our experience helpful in creating similar exercises for their own programs.
The question of what is traditional retailing and traditional merchandising, as well as who are traditional merchandising students certainly might trouble the minds of those who read this article. We understand that such a vague label groups together many heterogeneous retailers, merchandising practices, and students into homogeneous groups. However, differences have also been found between marketing and non-marketing business students in terms of their response to problem-solving learning. One study suggests that marketing students indicate their greatest strengths as leadership and interpersonal/relational abilities, viewing themselves as “leaders and handlers of people,” as opposed to non-marketing students who view their greatest strengths as problem-solving, organizational skills, and quantitative skills, seeing themselves more as “organized problem-solvers” (Newell, Titus, and West, 1996). (The non-marketing students in this study represented the disciplines of accounting, finance and banking, business administration, and management information systems).
Please keep in mind that our stated goals are simply to present the exercises and cite differences in reactions and practice between the music and non-music (traditional) groups. We are trying to keep our focus on our music merchandising experience. We cannot and are not trying to build a comprehensive list of reactions and practices of our comparison groups of traditional students and retailers.
This paper presents four music merchandising exercises. Exercises were developed for all fifteen modules of the music merchandising course, but these four were selected because they seemed to best illustrate the differences between music business and traditional retailing students, and music business and traditional retail practices:
Directions: Arrange the following items into an income statement for Ray’s Music Exchange. Calculate Ray’s gross margin and net profit. (You may work with others to get your
|Cost of Goods Sold||$ 350,000|
Directions: Arrange the items below into a balance sheet.
Given: Borrowed from Parents $15,000 Bank Loan 10,000
Issued Stock 50,000
Directions: Place the following items into an income statement and calculate the 1999 net profit for A.J.’s Record Store.
|Discounts on Purchases||50,000|
|Proprietor’s Income Tax||10,000|
Exercise 1 Objectives:
Many people assume that the average music business student has less accounting training than the ordinary retailing student. This is the reason for the very basic nature of these exercises. This may or may not be true depending upon the requirements within individual music business programs. This also may or may not be true depending upon the typical retailing student. A retailing student may be a business major who has had many accounting and finance courses. In this case the assumption may be warranted. Another “typical” retailing student might be a fashion merchandising student who has had many design and textile construction courses, but fewer accounting and finance courses. Another “typical” retailing student might be a business education student who, again, has less of a base of business courses, but a strong base in education courses. However, while these exercises may seem basic, we have found that it is a mistake to omit these for any of our “typical” retailing students. Even students who have had several accounting courses often seem to freeze at the first sight of numbers. It is our experience that students have to be exposed to some review, and have to be brought slowly into financial statements. Getting down to the real essence of the income statement, the balance sheet, and the difference between these two is the art of teaching. These exercises have done a good job in helping us reach this essence.
We have tried to simplify the financial statements by focusing only on the retailer. This keeps us away from some of the more complex accounting problems, such as calculation of cost of goods sold, goods in process, and valuation of inventory. The basic message that the students should have derived from their group process of constructing an income statement for Exercise IA is that the income statement is a simple statement, consisting of only three inputs—sales, cost of goods sold, and expenses. Gross margin and net profit are simply calculations based upon these inputs.
Ray’s Music Exchange Income Statement (for a specific period of time)
Sales $600,000 Less: COGS 350,000 Gross Margin 250,000 Less: Expenses 200,000
Net Profit 50,000
Because this is a music merchandising class, the emphasis of these financial statement exercises is on the income statement and not the balance sheet. The income statement is the scoreboard of performance for the merchants and store managers of the retail firm. The balance sheet is less of a tool for the merchants and store managers than it is for the CEO and the financiers of the company. This is why we have presented a follow-up exercise with a more complex income statement (Exercise 1C), but not one for the balance sheet.
Because the merchandising side of a business is responsible for the buying and selling of the product, and the retail activities (e.g., pricing, promoting, display) associated with the buying and selling, it should be emphasized to the students that the merchant is more concerned with gross margin than net profit as a measure of his or her success. The store manager, on the other hand, is responsible for the operations side of the business (e.g., salaries, rent, utilities) and is therefore more concerned with net profit.
Lee’s Funk Music Store Balance Sheet (as of a specific date)
|Cash*||$75,000||Borrowed from Parents||$15,000|
|Total Assets||$75,000||Liabilities + OE||$75,000|
*This could be allocated for store, fixtures, inventory, etc. in class discussion.
In discussing the balance sheet, the key point to reinforce to the students is that the balance sheet is simply a statement of the sources and uses of funds. Sources of funds belong on one side of the statement, and uses belong on the other side.
In Exercise IC, a more complex income statement is introduced. Again, the students should be reminded that the income statement consists of only three inputs, so their first duty is to divide the given items into sales, cost of goods sold or expense entries. Students appreciate reinforcement when they have put some of the entries in the right place on the income statement. This exercise can lead to some good discussions on the importance of inventory control, the allocation of expenses, the role of depreciation, the composition of reductions and the difference between gross sales and net sales.
|Less: Purchase Discounts||(50,000)||Given|
|Less Ending Inventory||(250,000)||Calculated|
There are some music retailing practices that might require some unique financial record keeping. One of these is consignment and a second is return of goods. Both of these are highly used practices in this industry and require some specialized accounting. These are not brought to the attention of the music business students at this time in the course. We have chosen to keep the accounting basics as simple as possible.
Pricing and Supply-Chain Exercises
Your band has a CD produced at a cost of $3 per unit. Your band wants to make a profit of $2 on each unit, your distributor wants to make $3 per unit, and the retailer wants to make $8 per unit.
Directions: Calculate the comparison costs and break-even points for records and CDs under each of the following
|What is your average cost if you sell|
|only one unit?|
|What is your average cost if you sell|
|half of your production run?|
|What is your average cost if you sell|
|your entire production run?|
|What is your break-even point|
|(in units) if you can sell all your|
|product yourself (variable cost|
|(VC) = 0) at gigs for $10 each?|
|What is your break-even point|
|(in units) if you can sell all your|
|product at gigs for $10 each, but|
|have to hire someone to man the|
|What is your break-even point|
|(in units) if you can sell all your|
|product in stores for $15 each, but|
|the retailer requires a keystone|
Directions: A band just paid $30,000 to produce 10,000 copies of their new CD, Music Business Fantasies: The Quest for Profits. In addition, the band bought a new brightly painted van for $25,000. They consider both of these costs to be fixed. What is the band’s break-even (in units), if:
The band members sell their CDs at gigs (VC=0) for $10 each? ________units
The band hires someone to sell CDs at gigs (VC=$2) for $10 each ________units The band sells their CDs through record stores (retail price of
$15) where the retailer takes a keystone markup.
The band sells their CDs through a distributor (who takes $3
per unit), who sells to a retailer (who takes $6 per unit).
The CDs sell at retail for $15? ________units
Again, these exercises start at a very basic level. Students are asked to calculate dollar cost and price at two distribution levels. Distribution levels are presented to introduce the concept of a supply chain, but are kept at two to keep quantitative calculations at the most simple level. Percentages are not introduced until the second step in order to make the point that dollar markups are simple to do. However, percentage markups, and the base upon which they are calculated, become a little more complex, and are isolated for separate discussion.
Exercise 2B adds complexity both in the calculations the students are asked to perform and in the number of distribution levels involved. This exercise was very well received by the music business students. In fact, the extra steps of identifying fixed costs, variable costs, and average costs, seemed to greatly simplify the calculation of break-even points for these students. This exercise is now being used with our regular retail students.
Exercise 2C simply presents the previous material in prose form. This exercise both reinforces calculations made earlier and provides a platform for a discussion of new opportunities and entrepreneurship in music marketing. The ability to produce a CD at a small cost and in a limited run has opened the way for many independent musicians to record and market their own CDs. This is definitely becoming an entrepreneur’s market.
Recent changes in the music industry, such as the downsizing of the traditional recording industry, have increased the importance for professional musicians of developing entrepreneurial spirit and skills. Increasing numbers of music business students seek out programs which enhance the learning of these skills, and which will assist them in developing the individual problem-solving skills necessary to becoming a successful entrepreneur in the industry. Recent publications have cited the necessity of developing self-pro-motion skills, understanding how the music business operates, and the ability to use the guidance provided by professionals (and instructors) to make effective decisions on one’s own (Spellman, 2000; Fisher, 1999).
The shift toward entrepreneurship in the music industry highlights all the more the importance of the aspiring professional musician to be able to make his or her own decisions in an environment of uncertainty and limited information. This highlights the importance of examining experiential learning method as substitutes or supplements to the more traditional means of providing information, thereby allowing students in music business programs to develop skills to compete in a complex, dynamic industry.
Exercise 2A presents an introductory pricing problem. Keeping this initial step in a “dollars only” format keeps calculations of costs and selling prices very simple, and calculations do not tend to be a problem for the individual students or student groups. Students need more guidance, however, in learning how to work with percentages.
|Band Cost||$ 3||67% markup on cost ($2/$3)|
|+ Band Markup||$ 2|
|Band Selling Price||$ 5||40% markup on selling price|
|Distributor Cost||$ 5||60% markup on cost ($3/$5)|
|+Distributor Markup||$ 3|
|Distributor Selling Price||$ 8||38% markup on selling price|
|Retailer Cost||$ 8||100% markup on cost ($8/$8)|
|Retailer Markup||$ 8|
|Retailer Selling Price||$16||50% markup on selling price|
Students do not have a problem in talking about a $2 markup. They start having a problem when that $2 markup can be expressed either as 67% ($2 as a percentage of cost, $3), or as 40% ($2 as a percentage of selling price, $5). It must be stressed to students that a $2 markup is a $2 markup. However, there must be some consensus within the industry as to whether percentage cost or percentage selling price will be the way that the industry communicates. In retailing, the consensus is clear-cut—markup on selling price is the practice. (The reason for this is largely because of the specific method of accounting used by retailers.) For manufacturers and distributors, the consensus is still strong but some variation in practice does exist. (Again, the consensus is largely due to accounting practices. When businesses percentage their income statements, this is always done based upon selling price, and not cost. It follows logically that pricing would fall in line with this accounting practice.) It is important to get the students to speak in merchandising terms. Therefore, the rule for the class is that unless it is specifically stated to the contrary, markups are always stated as a percentage of selling price.
The answers for Exercises 2B and 2C are presented below:
|Average Cost at 1 unit sold||$250,000||$ 5,000|
|Average Cost at 50% sold||$ 10.00||$ 10.00|
|Average Cost at 100% sold||$ 5.00||$ 5.00|
|Break-Even at VC=0||25,000 units||500 units|
|Break-Even at VC=$2||31,250 units||625 units|
|Break-Even at VC=$7.50||33,333 units||667 units|
|Break-Even at VC=0||5,500 units|
|Break-Even at VC=$2.00||6,875 units|
|Break-Even at VC=$7.50||7,333 units|
|Break-Even at VC=$9.00||9,167 units|
We have tried to break the steps in these calculations down to the very basic so they can be better understood by the students. This is in line with one of our overall objectives for these exercises which was to only present to the student a small amount of material at one time. We have also tried to provide the student with some repetition to reinforce learning. It certainly would benefit the student to be provided with exercise sheets that can be done outside of class to provide further repetition for these concepts.
Exercise 3 Music Store Layout Exercise
Directions: You have just been made manager of a small retail music instrument store located in a regional shopping mall. You must reset the store given the following
|Product Category||at Cost||at Retail Yearly Sales|
|Other String Instruments||3,000||7,000||30,000|
|Speakers and Amps.||20,000||35,000||100,000|
The store has the following dimensions and shape: 40’
Rest Rooms 10’ 20’
Prepare to have your group present your layout and its justification in front of the class.
This exercise is based upon one that has been used many times in traditional retailing classes (Pearson and Mundell, 1998). In the standard version, student groups are asked to create the layout for a retail card shop with a small amount of information provided. Each student group records its final group layout with grease pens on a thermal transparency (exactly the same as in exercise 3). For the music merchandising class, we changed the card shop to a music instrument store and the product categories to music instrument product categories. We did not change the quantitative numbers in the exercise or the size of the store, which probably made this a less-than-realistic exercise.
Our experience with traditional retailing students has been that they will complete this exercise almost entirely ignoring the numbers unless the importance of them is brought to their attention during the group discussion stage of the exercise. Therefore, it was not surprising that music merchandising students failed to notice the lack of accuracy in the numbers. This inaccuracy actually turned out to be a good discussion topic at the end of this exercise. The actual merchandising numbers (NAMM, 1996, 2000) were presented to, and discussed with, the class. Perhaps because they had just worked with the figures, the class seemed to exhibit a lot of interest in these merchandising numbers (markups, gross margins, and stock turns). The enthusiasm of the music merchandising students toward the numbers actually led us to try this two-step pedagogy (allowing the students to layout the store without quantitative emphasis followed by a quan-titative-based discussion at the end of the exercise) in our traditional (non-music) retailing class, where an improvement in the quantitative discussion also occurred.
The music business students did a very good job with this exercise in comparison to what traditional retail students have done in previous administrations. It turned out that these music business students had at least as much retail experience as traditional retail students, and this experience was much more product-specific. In other words, traditional retail students had experience in a lot of different types of retail stores, while the music business students tended to have their experience more with music-related retailers.
The first objective of this exercise is to derive the rules of store layout through group discussion. These rules are quite consistent among retailing textbooks. The following list presents a summary of discussion points that can be used with this exercise:
A plan-o-gram exercise (arranging products on a shelving unit) for music accessories was also prepared and used in another session of this music merchandising class. The plan-o-gram was computer-based, and allowed student groups to set the plan-o-gram and enter this set into the computer. This exercise worked with the class, but not as well as the store layout exercise. This may have been because music business students are not as comfortable with spreadsheet software as are traditional retail students. (This computer-based layout exercise was not included in this paper because of the amount of explanation and space needed to show the underlying programming and flow-charting. An interested reader could refer to Pearson and Mundell (1998) and Pearson, Mundell, Henley and Eiseman (2001) for similarly programmed computer-based exercises dealing with store layout and website design, respectively).
Your manager has left you a list of things to do while she is gone. She will be calling at noon to check and see how you are doing. Her list includes:
|Thursday readings||Thursday all day readings|
|(a/o 4:30 p.m.)||(8:30 a.m.)|
|Downtown||$775||$15||Downtown||$ 975||$ 15|
|Store #2||$880||Store #2||$1,104|
|Store #3||$850||Store #3||$ 875||$300|
|Store #4||$350||Store #4|
|Store #5||$280||Store #5||$ 560||$ 15|
The in-basket exercise, more than any of the other exercises presented here, seemed to show a major difference between the music business students and the traditional retail students. The music business student seemed much less likely to act on the consumer’s behalf in solving problems. It may have been our fault as instructors (this exercise was used during the end of the semester) that these music business students did not seem to believe in the Marketing Concept. In other words, students did not readily accept the basic marketing concept that taking care of the customer will lead to the success of the retail firm. Instead, they seemed to think that they should take advantage of the customer when they had the chance.
In-basket exercises have been used fairly extensively in employment screening, hiring, and personnel management. When used for these purposes, the exercises are sometimes referred to as Work Sample Tests—intended to see how one “really” works. This is differentiated (as a technique) from interviews, from which can be discovered how one “claims” to work, or has worked in the past. In-basket exercises have become an accepted assessment tool in human resource management (Stevens, 1996, devotes an entire section of his Human Resource Management text to a set of four in-basket exercises.) They are also discussed as a tool for enhancing creative learning, particularly under constrained and unpredictable circumstances (Engel, 1995).
In-basket exercises are also used by a wide variety of retailers to acquaint employees with the problems they will encounter in the store and to discuss corporate procedures and appropriate strategies for handling these problems. We have used a variety of in-basket exercises in retail classes, covering customer relations, merchandising, operations, pro-motion/display and control. For the music merchandising class, we combined all these into a single exercise set at a downtown branch of a regional record store.
In-basket exercises set up a situation where the store manager is faced with many competing problems, all of which must be solved immediately. Students determine the order and manner in which problems should be solved.
The instructor’s approach to administering this article starts when the students are working in their groups. The students (like the new assistant store manager in the exercise) will become a little overwhelmed by how all these things can be done in this short a period of time. We try to sit down with a group and ask the students:
After giving the groups about twenty minutes to discuss these situations, we start asking them to report their conclusions to the class. Each group has a chance to comment on the other groups’ ordering of strategies. The discussion of ordering is somewhat tactical compared to how some of the situations are handled. The instructor can ask each of the student groups how it would handle some of the remaining situations. Ask if there is agreement among groups. Ask if other strategies are possible.
Ideally, the instructor should formulate his or her own in-basket exercise in consultation with local music retailers. In traditional retailing classes, we have invited in retailers to share the in-basket exercises they use in their training programs. This is a good method because it gives the instructor a chance to hear the practitioner’s responses to the individual situations.
Recognize that these observations are based upon many sections of traditional retailing classes, but only one section of a music merchandising class. Despite the small number of music merchandising experiences, we will venture three general observations about the differences between music business students and traditional retailing students. These initial observations may provoke discussion, but we feel that such discussion is a positive thing in our continuous quest to understand our students.
training that they have received to this point in their careers. Whatever the reason, music business students required more patience and a more detailed step-by-step presentation of the quantitative and computer-based material in this course. We have learned an important lesson from this experience with music business students that is applicable to our traditional retailing students. It is a valuable experience to occasionally return to the real essence of our subject matter. This might take a little longer in the classroom, or it might take more steps to get to this point in the learning process. We found that this extra time and these extra steps were things that we had forgotten or omitted from our teaching over the years. These extra steps have been restored to the exercises for our traditional retailing classes.
• Music business students have not fully embraced the Marketing Concept. We tend to forget that the concept that we are really in business to fulfill the needs of our customer rather than to cheat our customer is not a viewpoint held by all. Business students and fashion merchandising students have had this concept reinforced throughout all their previous studies. Music business students have not. We recommend a very strong emphasis of this Marketing Concept in the foundation of music business courses.
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Dr. Michael M. Pearson is the Stanford H. Rosenthal Distinguished Professor of Risk and Entrepreneurship, and Professor of Marketing at Loyola University New Orleans. He received his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College and his
M.B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Pearson has published many articles on pedagogy and use of computer exercises in the classroom. He teaches both in the College of Business and the Music Business Program at Loyola University New Orleans.
Dr. John W. Barnes is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Loyola University New Orleans. He received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University. His teaching interests include Strategic Marketing, Music Marketing, Business Selling and Sales Management, and International/Global Marketing. Professor Barnes’ research lies in the areas of music business and marketing, organizational cultures, strategic alliances, and consumer and sales management. He has published in the Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, Long Range Planning, and the Journal of Global Marketing, among other places.
Dr. Scott Fredrickson, has over 25 years experience in higher education and experience in the music industry and holds degrees in Music Education from Cal-State University Fullerton, Business Administration from Pepperdine University, Jazz, and Music Business Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. His compositions and arrangements have been heard on local and national radio and television, and are being performed regularly in the United States and many other countries. Fredrickson has worked as a composer, arranger, director, and performer at theme parks, dinner theaters and corporate shows, and numerous commercial projects. He has produced and engineered over ten albums of pop and jazz vocal music and is in much demand as a clinician, guest conductor, and festival adjudicator throughout the United States and Canada. His Scat Singing Method has been received enthusiastically by choral directors, and his articles on pop, jazz, and show choir techniques have appeared in national educational journals and magazines. He is President of Scott Music Publications, and former editor and publisher of Pop, Jazz & Show Choir Magazine and has just completed a new choral music education textbook entitled Popular Choral Handbook.
He is also the Executive Director and former president of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association and is a member of ASCAP. He is active in NARAS, NAMM, NARM, AFIM, IAJE, ACDA, and MEIEA. Fredrickson is currently Professor of Music Business and Chair of the Music Business Program at Loyola University New Orleans where he holds the Conrad N. Hilton Eminent Scholar in Music Industry Studies endowed chair.