One way is to head off to school. In fact, there are as many majors, certificates of study, and master’s degrees available in the music industry as there are notes in a song. The right degree and training can position you with the skills you need to launch your career.

Before choosing a program, it’s important to ask yourself whether you are more artistically inclined or more business oriented. The music industry is comprised of those in creative and artistic positions and those involved in music management, so your answer to this question may determine what you study and where.

If your interest is more business-oriented, your studies will focus on how the music industry works. This will include how recordings are made, how songs are copyrighted and licensed, and how artists are promoted. You can specialize in music marketing, financial management, event promotion, music products merchandizing, or music law. You might even learn how to manage a theater or recording studio, or focus on technical aspects such as audio engineering.

Here are some common careers paths in the music industry:

  • Composition (scoring and songwriting)

  • Education (master of arts in teaching/instruction)

  • Performance (to become a touring musician and/or recording artist)

  • Music business and management (business management, record label promotion, artist management, event /festival directing, general marketing, merchandise marketing)

  • Music/electronic production and engineering (record production, mixing engineering, mastering engineering, sound design)

  • Health and Wellness (music therapy)

If you plan to study audio engineering, you may want to assess a school’s recording studios and other facilities. Future music moguls might want to hone in on those programs with a student-run record label such as those at Hofstra University and Drexel University.

Wherever your interests lie, there are many undergraduate and graduate degree programs to choose from in order to build a portfolio of skills. At the graduate level, you can pursue a Master of Music (MM), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or MBA with a music concentration. Some of these degree programs can be completed in as a little as one year, and some are self-paced. Another option may be to enroll in a graduate certificate program. Certificates take less time to complete, but still demonstrate high skills in a particular area.

Best Schools for the Music Business

If you’re interested in breaking into the business of music, you have lots of higher education options. Billboard Magazine lists top schools to consider for a career in the business of music. Some of these programs offer master’s degrees including MBAs, and others offer bachelor’s degrees only.

Two unique offerings on Billboard’s list include USC’s Thornton School of Music and the Frost School of Music at University of Miami. Students at USC’s Thornton School can pursue a course of study in one of five professional master’s degree programs focused on Arts Leadership (MS), Community Music (MM), Contemporary Teaching Practice (MM), Screen Scoring (MM), and the Music Industry (MS).

The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami offers online graduate-level programs in several areas including Music Business and Entertainment Industries (Graduate Certificate), and Arts Presenting and Live Entertainment Management (MA).

Other great business schools for the music business include:

  • Belmont University, The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, Nashville, Tennessee

  • Berkley College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts, and Valencia, Spain

  • Drexel University, the Westphal College of Media Arts ad Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York

  • University of North Texas College of Music, Denton, Texas.

  • Kennesaw State University, the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program, Kennesaw, Georgia

  • Los Angeles College of Music, Pasadena, California

  • The Los Angeles Film School, the Los Angeles Recording School, Los Angeles, California

  • Manhattanville College Masters in Teaching Music including theory, history, performance, and current debates, Purchase, New York

  • NYU, Tish School of the Arts, Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, New York, New York

  • Pepperdine University, Institute for Entertainment Media and Culture, Pepperdine, California

  • Syracuse University Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industry, Syracuse, New York

  • Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.