University Professor.

Musician’s Advocate.


Paul Young is Chair of Music Industry Program at the USC Thornton School of Music, full-time professor, and founder of USC’s forthcoming Master of Science, Music Industry degree, launching Fall 2018. He was the recipient of the 2015 Steven B. Sample Teaching & Mentoring Award and the 2016 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Outside of USC, Young is a Grammy-nominated professional musician with an impressive resume of film, television and recording industry credits, a published music rights advocate, and formerly Director of Licensing and Contract Administration for major label, Universal Music Group.

Music Is Not All The Same

Music is an emotional experience. Whether you make music for the biggest label in the world or in a dive bar, music is important. While DIY music, has value, the industry cannot treat all music as if it’s worth 99 cents, where the “disruptive” new music sources have set its price. Just one song goes from songwriter to artist to studio musicians to producers to engineers to managers to agents to every piece of the puzzle to become high-quality developed music that is worth paying for. Because of the difference between hobby music and professional music, the commercial value of professional music is much higher than the modern digital industry has valued it. Here, these creators in the process lose, while the “innovative” hosts take advantage by dictating to the public what someone else’s product should be worth to meet their bottom line. Instead, the value of intellectual property, which we happily pull out our credit cards for at the box office or on Amazon, should dictate the price of these quality goods.

Music Is Our Industry

The current system does not value music properly, and the only way to fix that is for the current (and future) music industry professionals and career musicians to determine its value, not business leaders focused on their own bottom line. My role is not to change the industry, but to change how you think about it. If your fears were not there and you did not accept the status quo, how do you approach the value of music? You experienced it: you danced, you cried, you felt something real. You remembered it: you have a soundtrack to every meaningful moment of your life. Do you remember that one performance that changed your life? The song that you played on repeat and couldn’t get out of your head? That’s not a free download. That’s not a file. That’s an experience. That’s meaning. We get paid for that feeling.

The Solution Is In the Value

The public does not want to hear about how much it cost you to give them that feeling, they just want to feel it. While they're feeling it, that's when you can now shine a light on every person involved in creating those moments. Great music comes from a team, and when credit is shared among that team, then the amount of work and talent that went into that moment can become clear. If the creators control the value narrative in these emotions, then the suppliers cannot re-adjust that price. Any good advertiser tries to create an emotion around an unemotional product, but music has that emotional pull built in. This is how we need to value our product, but if you stop there, when the moment is over, and it's time for them to pull out their credit card, the supplier's message overshadows the memory of the moment. To counteract this, you must determine: How can you make the unique value-shifting impact of your music permanent?

Newest Articles

Paul Young Argues Against Unauthorized Music Uploads

USC Thornton Music Industry faculty member Paul Young recently penned an editorial for the Washington-based newspaper The Hill regarding the lack of fair pay for musicians whose copyrighted work is uploaded to digital streaming services such as YouTube. In the piece, titled ”Upstream without a payment,“ Young argues that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) […]

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Paul Young of Music Industry Program Provides Insight Into ”Blurred Lines“ Verdict

ABC7 Eyewitness News sat down with USC Thornton professor Paul Young, director of the music industry minors program, for an expert analysis of the legal battle between Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and the family of Marvin Gaye. Young, a former executive and producer with Universal Music Group, provided insight into the business implications for the […]

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Paul Young Wins 2014 Steven B. Sample Teaching & Mentoring Award

Paul Young, USC Thornton faculty and director of the Music Industry Minors program, has been selected as one of this year's recipients of the 2014 Steven B. Sample Teaching & Mentoring Award. In conjunction with USC Trojan Family Weekend, the award honors faculty members who have been nominated by parents and symbolizes ”an important aspect […]

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USC Thornton at the 2017 GRAMMY Awards

USC Thornton faculty and alumni were nominated in 12 categories at the 59th annual GRAMMY Awards.

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