“The masters of musick finding that mon[e]y was to be got this way, determined to take the buissness into their owne hands”: entrepreneurial opportunities and activities in the development of music as a business in London 1650–1750

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


“Given that entrepreneurship is a basic human capability for finding solutions to both technological and institutional problems, each innovation made by entrepreneurs provides a platform from which subsequent innovations can be made” (Casson & Casson, 2014). Thus it was with the gradual emergence of music as a business in London from the mid-seventeenth century onwards. The disruptions caused by the Civil War to a musical life which heretofore had been principally centred around the court, church and aristocratic households brought new problems and opportunities for composers, performers, music publishers and others who made some or all of their living from musical activity of one sort or another. Within a century, successive entrepreneurial innovations saw the development and growth of a flourishing and commercial musical life in London, encompassing opera, concerts, and music as part of the entertainments offered at pleasure gardens and urban spa resorts. However, this early music business did not solely comprise composers and performers: music printers and publishers produced and disseminated music scores, books on how to play various musical instruments, and music paper; many professional musicians made part of their income by teaching amateurs; there was a thriving trade in the sale of musical instruments; the owners or leaseholders of appropriate venues, not necessarily musicians themselves, let them out for musical entertainments of one type or another, and an array of shops, taverns, coffee- and chocolate-houses acted as ticket-selling agents.Shane (2003) discusses the sources of entrepreneurial opportunities, many of which are illustrated in this period. Regulatory and technological changes are to be seen in music publishing, regulatory changes also affected newspapers and the theatres, and social and demographic changes resulted both from the Commonwealth period and the Restoration of the Monarchy. These, together with the increasing importance of London as an urban centre, all had an effect on music and musicians and the ways in which they could make a living. Musicians responded to these new opportunities with a series of entrepreneurial innovations which signal the beginnings of the development of music as a business in London.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Aug 2018
EventXVII World Economic History Congress - MIT, Boston, United States
Duration: 29 Jul 20183 Aug 2018


ConferenceXVII World Economic History Congress
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address



Cite this