Music Industry Management Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a music industry management program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Music Industry Management: Degrees at a Glance

The successful production of one song requires the coordination efforts of many people. Professionals in the music industry management field work in a range of occupations. Whatever their specialty, personnel in the industry enjoy music, have an ear for talent and are willing to move if necessary to work in a sometimes difficult field. Keep in mind that Nashville, Los Angeles and New York City host the major labels and communities in the industry, although multiple independent labels exist across the country.

An associate degree program can prepare you for entry-level opportunities in production, composition or music management, while a bachelor's degree program might make a career in talent direction available to you. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that multiple careers in the industry are expected to experience average job growth from 2010-2010. Specifically, a 10%-19% increase in job growth is predicted for talent directors and music composers and arrangers during this time period (www.bls.gov).

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level positions in talent management, music composition or the general music business Individuals seeking a career in talent or music management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Music retail sales ($21,000)
- Music composer or arranger ($47,000 - 1-2 years of on-the job training is generally necessary)*
- Agent or business manager of artists, performers or athletes ($65,000 - industry experience is typical)*
- Talent director ($71,000 - several years of related experience is usually required)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits of general elective and core courses
- Internship in the music industry
- Roughly 120 credits of core and general elective courses
- Music industry internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or its equivalent High school diploma or its equivalent
Online Availability Limited Limited

Source: *O*Net OnLine (May 2011 figures).


Associate in Music Industry Management

The associate degree program delivers a curriculum designed to prepare you for the business and performance components of the industry. Programs provide field experiences that place students in industry-related roles outside the classroom. You can expect to take a range of restricted elective courses that sharpen your business skills. Classes also explore the use of studio equipment, including signal processing, Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and keyboards, to name a few. Although a degree in music industry management can help you further your career, many of the same positions are open to individuals who have had on-the-job-training or completed apprenticeships in the field.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Artist representative and agent positions may offer several benefits, including employer-paid travel and networking opportunities
  • Associate degree programs provide a broad background and the opportunity to specialize in composition and recording in addition to management
  • Many associate degrees transfer to bachelor's degree programs

Cons

  • Bachelor's degree holders earned substantially more than those with an associate degree; talent directors earned a median annual wage of $71,000*
  • You can expect unusually strong competition in the industry; many people are attracted to the field
  • A degree may not always be necessary to succeed in this industry
  • Music directors and composers experience periods of unemployment or seek work in other occupations until they gain experience

Source: *O*Net OnLine (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

An associate degree program provides training in the fundamentals, marketing and management of music. Programs combine training in theoretical concepts, such as marketing, mathematics and business management topics, with hands-on training. In addition, many programs deliver training that emphasizes current and emerging technologies in the industry. Some programs require that students take a course in applied music or composition. Following are some common courses offered by the programs:

  • Engineering audio
  • Recording studio music
  • Law and merchandising
  • Digital audio
  • Music theory
  • History of music
  • Marketing

Online Degree Info

You might find few complete online programs in music industry management. The hands-on nature of programs that require applied music courses makes locating distance-education options a challenge. Some schools offer online programs that focus solely on the business training required by the music industry.

Stand Out with This Degree

Employers seek job candidates who have honed their social skills, have access to a wide industry network and who are willing to start their careers at the bottom. Consider working with your college's radio station to gain inside experience. Speak with your instructors to determine their involvement in the industry and build lasting relationships with people connected to the industry. Finally, take advantage of internship opportunities that provide practical experience in the business of music.


Bachelor's in Music Industry Management

A bachelor's degree program can help students develop more extensive knowledge of the music industry, business principles and media than an associate degree program. Bachelor's degree programs offer a number of electives and concentration options that deliver knowledge of music publishing, recording or artist management, to name a few. In addition, some programs offer students the opportunity to participate in industry-related trade shows and conferences, such as the annual shows organized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), to gain access to networking opportunities and important events.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Talent directors earned relatively competitive median annual salaries of $71,000*
  • Programs deliver a broad curriculum, and you can specialize in music composition, artist management or marketing music recordings, to name a few
  • In-depth knowledge of business and marketing principles could give you an edge in this competitive field

Cons

  • You often will be applying for the same jobs available to those with associate degrees in an industry in which degrees aren't always a necessity
  • The number of people applying for positions might be greater than the number of jobs available
  • Many jobs are located in Los Angeles, New York or Nashville, meaning you may need to move to further your career

Source: *O*Net OnLine (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program offers a combination of music business, promotion, law and research courses. Some schools require that students participate in one to two internships. You might find programs that offer a concentration in production and technology. In addition, programs might provide courses that study specific geographical locations, depending on the location of the school. For example, colleges in Tennessee may offer coursework that explores the Nashville recording industry. You could take courses in music publishing, concert promotion, business strategy, copyright law, management and marketing principles, international music and digital audio. Internships might address a specific area, such as technology or business.

Online Degree Info

Similar to online associate degrees, online bachelor's degree programs might prove difficult to locate, depending on the curriculum. Some schools offer an online business management degree with a concentration in music. These programs offer courses similar to campus-based programs. You also might take online classes in audio engineering, copyright law and promotion techniques.

Stand Out with This Degree

Proving your ability to produce, locate and manage successful artists can improve your job prospects and create opportunities for advancement. During your studies, consider developing relationships with local artists and exploring the event promotion process. Building your network by attending industry events and networking with professionals in the field might improve your future job prospects. In addition, consider joining industry-related associations to demonstrate your commitment to the field.

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