Study Music Management: Master's Degrees, Classes & Online Program Info

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What will you learn in music management courses and master's degree programs? Read about course and degree requirements, the pros and cons of studying music management and potential careers.
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Music Management: Degrees and Courses at a Glance

Typical responsibilities of a music manager include negotiating clients' contracts and obligations, staying abreast of industry trends, scheduling promotional events and performances, managing business and financial affairs and networking. According to O*NET OnLine, employment of agents and business managers of artists and performers was predicted to grow between 10% and 19% from 2010 to 2020.

A bachelor's degree may not be required to work in the field of music management, although 50% of respondents have at least a bachelor's degree, according to 2010 data from O*NET OnLine. This is because employers in this field place a high value on previous work experience, and they may weigh this more heavily than formal education.

Certificate programs can help you obtain specific and practical knowledge in music management or give current bachelor's degree holders the option to specialize in a particular niche. Master's degree programs typically provide an in-depth curriculum that balances theory and practice with an emphasis on real-world skill development.

CoursesMaster's
Who is this course/degree for? - Individuals with or without a bachelor's degree
- People who are new to music management or who are making a career change
- Experienced individuals who seek professional development or advancement opportunities
- Individuals with a bachelor's degree and professional industry experience who wish to further their careers
- Students who seek to perform research or teach at the university level
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Agents and business managers of artists and performers ($65,000 - varies with experience)*- Same as courses
- Postsecondary Teacher ($64,000)*
Time to Completion Varies based on how many courses you take and whether you're enrolled in a certificate program Approximately two years (full-time)
Common Graduation Requirements - Satisfy coursework
- Maintain GPA standards, if applicable
- Complete thesis or capstone project, if applicable
- Maintain GPA standards
- Take several graduate-level courses
- Finish an internship
Prerequisites - Professional-level English language proficiency
- Meet GPA requirements
- Some certificate programs require a bachelor's degree
- Bachelor's degree
- Recent GRE scores, if applicable
- Letters of recommendation
- Prerequisite courses in statistics, if applicable
Online Availability Available Accredited degree programs are rare

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 median figures).

Courses in Music Management

Music management courses are available in a variety of formats, including standalone classes and certificate programs. Standalone courses may or may not be taken for credit. Certificate programs typically have a standard curriculum and follow a similar coursework plan to a master's degree program, though they are often shorter and less-intensive. Some certificate programs are designed for students who hold a bachelor's degree, while others do not have educational prerequisites.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Music management certificate programs typically require less time and money than a graduate degree program.*
  • Enrollment requirements for standalone courses are generally less stringent than for master's degree programs. For example, you may not need an undergraduate degree to take standalone courses.
  • If you are unsure about attending graduate school, certificate courses can help you gauge your interest in the subject matter. In some cases, you may be able to transfer certificate credits to a degree program.

Source: *The University of California, Los Angeles.

Cons

  • Just as a courses and certificate programs are not as rigorous as master's degree programs, they are also not as prestigious.
  • If you plan on eventually attending graduate school, you may not want to spend time and money pursuing supplemental courses.
  • Continuing education programs, including certificate programs, may not be as relevant as work experience in the eyes of a hiring manager.

Courses and Requirements

Standalone courses and certificate programs often focus on business management, marketing and industry topics. For example, a sample curriculum or course listing may include topics such as:

  • Music production
  • Artist management
  • Marketing popular music
  • Music licensing
  • Legal topics in the music industry
  • Career planning in the music industry

If you are enrolled in a certificate program, you also may need to complete a capstone project, such as a research paper. In some cases, an internship may be encouraged or required.

Online Course Options

Currently, accredited online music management certificate programs and standalone courses are available through a variety of universities and technical schools. If you find online options, consider that the curricula and requirements are generally very similar to those of traditional on-campus programs, but online programs typically don't offer as many networking opportunities.

Stand Out with Courses

Students may want to consider taking courses in social media to understand how to use online tools to market and promote artists. If your school does not offer or require an internship, you can seek out professional opportunities on your own. One option is to volunteer as a promoter or agent for local or up-and-coming music acts.

Master's in Music Management

Music management master's degree programs can prepare students for leadership roles in the music business industry or to teach in higher education. A typical master's degree curriculum combines business- and music-focused courses. In addition to coursework, students may be encouraged or required to complete a capstone project, such as a research paper (thesis) or internship. Although a bachelor's degree is typically required for admission into a master's degree program, your undergraduate degree doesn't necessarily need to be in a related area.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Since the educational requirements in this field are minimal, you may stand out from the crowd with an advanced degree.
  • Master's programs commonly require an internship, which can provide valuable networking experience.
  • Students in a master's degree program are likely to have access to experienced faculty with practical professional experience.
  • A master's degree may qualify you for a collegiate-level teaching position.

Cons

  • If you attend a master's program immediately after completing your undergraduate studies, you could delay opportunities to receive valuable work experience.
  • You might need to work long or unusual hours to coordinate and oversee client performances.
  • You could be overqualified for entry-level positions, particularly if you have less than several years of professional experience.

Courses and Requirements

Courses in a music management master's degree program could include intellectual property law, management process and theory, accounting and finance, artist management, economics, marketing and music in society. In addition to academic coursework, students likely need to submit a final capstone project, which may include an internship or research paper. Some programs require applicants to complete prerequisite courses in statistics, either before they enroll or during the course of their studies.

Online Course Options

Currently, online music management master's degree programs are available, but are somewhat rare. If you're considering an online master's degree program, proceed with caution and perform due diligence by thoroughly research the program to ensure it is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education or one of its accrediting agencies.

Stand Out with this Degree

Since employers in the music management field value experience, a strong work history can help you to stand out among applicants. If you do not have prior experience, consider working for small companies or relatively unknown artists who can help you get your foot in the door and start building a professional resume.

Degree Alternatives

Students who are interested in the management and business aspects of the music industry may want to consider pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA), possibly with a concentration in entertainment or music industry management. MBA programs train future business leaders to manage projects, staff and budgets, which are skills valued in nearly every industry. This broader skill set can expand your employment options outside of music management, if your interests or job prospects change.

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