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Top Music Universities In The UK: Review

Photograph of the blog post author, Maximilian Frattura

Maximilian Frattura

24.6.2020

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Do you have a creative, open-minded and curious personality? Do you love music and can’t stop thinking about it? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a career in the music industry? You might be wondering how to choose the best UK music university for you. Maybe you have seen lots of ads about music industry degrees and don’t know how to choose. This is where we come in handy, offering you a review of the best music universities in the UK! In this article, we will reveal some of the best universities, with a particular focus on best music schools in London. London is the Mecca for musicians, offering access to record labels, venues, facilities and a growing community of like-minded individuals! 

Music Universities in the UK offer a wide range of music industry degrees, so let’s dive in and have a look at the top music universities in the UK!

British & Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM)

BIMM music university uk

Alumni: James Bay, The Kooks, Tom Odell, George Ezra 

First on our review for top music universities in the UK is the renowned BIMM (British & Irish Modern Music Institute). BIMM has over 35 years of experience in the music industry, and offer a great variety of music industry degrees. It is a musicians heaven, full of industry experts, masterclasses and access to gigs, artists, producers, record labels, venues and studios

BIMM started in 1983 as Drumtech in London, focusing primarily on drums and later introducing guitar, bass, keyboard and vocals. They then renamed themselves ‘Tech Music School’ (TMS).

At the beginning of the century, BIMM opened its second faculty in Brighton, which was a turning point, offering the foundation of what it is today. Subsequently, they have been offering music industry degrees in 8 different location across the UK (London, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester) and Europe (Hamburg, Berlin, Dublin). The BIMM in London is located in Fulham Broadway, which is in the West Side of London, inside of the Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. 

For 2020, BIMM has some really interesting degree courses: 

BA (Hons) Electronic Music Production

Career Prospects: Artist, Producer, Remixer, Songwriter, Game Audio Designer 

This music industry degree is all you need if you are to get into the world of EDM, Trap & Hip-Hop, or many others. The course is divided into three years, and each module will give you the highest possible skills for the contemporary music industry. 

The first year will be about creating your unique path in the creative industries, starting with recording and mixing songs, and beginning to understand Sound Design. In the second year, you will be collaborating with video-makers, agencies and artists and by the third year, you will have a professional portfolio set to industry standard. 

BA (Hons) Music Production & Music Business

Career Prospects: Record Label Owner, Studio Owner, Artist Manager, Creative Entrepreneur 

This joint degree is similar to the Electronic Music Production, but also offers the possibilities to delve more into the entrepreneurial side of the music business. 

There will be more focus in the Second year on Business & Enterprise, as well as the role of music marketing, digital arts & branding, plus consultancy and market research. You will be able to manage your creative brand and fully understand what it means to run a business. 

Why Pick BIMM?

BIMM is best known for its cutting edge facilities equipped with the best possible gear. All of their teaching rooms have high-end Mac computers with the latest production software & gear, as well as their on-site recording studios and post-production studios. 

BIMM also gives you the chance to pick between many different music colleges across the UK and Europe, making it possible to create more connections across the music industry. If you want to know more about BIMM, you can check out their Virtual Open Days! 

Location: 4/5
Facilities: 5/5
Tutors: 5/5
Community: 4/5
Degree Options: 5/5
Industry Connections: 5/5 

Total score: 4.6/5 

ICMP: The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance 

ICMP music school

Alumni: Elena Tonra (Daughter), Ed O’ Brien (Radiohead), Luke Pattinson (Clean Bandit), Dutch Melrose, Foxes 

Next up is the ICMP (The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance), an industry leader for UK contemporary music colleges. IMCP is located in the North-West of London, near Kilburn and Brondesbury Station. I myself am an Alumnus of the 2017 BA (Hons) Songwriting course. It was was one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and led me to a career as a Music Journalist and Digital Marketer. 

The ICMP used to be known as The Guitar Institute and Bass tech in 1986, and had a focus on (well, you guessed it) guitar and bass! It later expanded to other instruments, offering courses in drums, vocals, songwriting, music business and music production.  The ICMP was the first Music School in London to offer full-time music degrees and declares that “within 6 months of graduating, over 94% of their students are in employment”. The average salary of ICMP graduates is also £24,000 (which is £5,000 higher than other UK music students). 

Some of the tutors include Tim Elsenburg (Sweet Billy Pilgrim), Sophie Daniels (Sony UK) and Paul Stanborough (Producer for Robbie Williams and Mark Ronson). They have extensive knowledge of the business, and will guide you through obstacles that you may encounter in your career. 

The ICMP encourages diversity in their staff and student body, and like to include many cultural backgrounds. During my songwriting workshops, I would make friends with people from all over the world, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Ireland etc. It was interesting to absorb the unique flavours of music from these different countries!

For 2020, The ICMP offers the following courses: 

BA (Hons) Creative Music Production 

Career Prospects: Artist Producer, DJ, Remixer, Audio Engineer, Radio Broadcasting Engineer 

This course was specifically designed for those looking to launch a career as a professional music producer. 

The First Year is focused on producing a wide range of music genres, and becoming acquainted with all of the industry-standard hardware and software. This includes different Digital Audio Workstations like Logic Pro and Ableton Live. The Second and Third Year focus on studio and home recording, as well as refining techniques such as EQ, Compression and Vocal Recording

This degree is one of the best music production degrees in the UK. It will allow you to bring your creative production skills to the next level and compete with the top-end producers out there! 

Bmus (Hons) Popular Music Performance: Guitar, Bass, Drums

Career Prospects: Session Musician, Performer, Band Member, Cruise Musician 

This music industry degree has to be one of the best for performance-related degrees. If you like to gig, and are always excited to hop on stage, then this is your course! 

It is the most relevant course for today’s modern industry, and teaches a wide range of core musicianship values. It also allows you to grow your skills on your instrument (vocals, bass, guitar, drums). What’s more, there is a great community which allows you to become versatile as a session musician when working with songwriters, producers etc.

Why Choose ICMP?

The ICMP offers so many great perks – from high-end recording facilities to industry connections. However, what is most important is the community. Staff are willing to help, and the Careers & Industry Hub and the Disability & Wellbeing team prioritise their students. The Careers team has recently launched an online hub where students and alumni can view music career opportunities in the UK and Europe. 

The Wellbeing team offers great guidance and tips for living in London, which can be difficult when you are 18-19 years old. There are many things you need to deal with, such as finances, food, relationships, coursework etc, and it can get overwhelming. However, at ICMP, there is a great team of tutors and staff ready to help. 

If you want to know more about ICMP, check out their Virtual Open Days!

Location: 3.5/5
Facilities: 5/5
Tutors: 5/5
Community: 5/5
Degree Options: 3.5/5
Industry Connections: 5/5 

Total Score: 4.5/5

Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM)

ACM music school

Alumni: Ed Sheeran (Ivor Novello, Brit Award, Grammy Award), Newton Faulkner (#1 UK Album Charts), Amelle Berrabah (Sugababes) 

The ACM is short for The Academy of Contemporary Music, and is one of the fastest-growing music universities in the UK. ACM has a total of three campuses: ACM London (Clapham), ACM Guildford and ACM Birmingham.

The ACM was established in 1997 in Guildford, Surrey is known as a music school with a focus on rock, pop music and electronic dance music. The School is connected with Middlesex University, University of Surrey and Guildford College, making it a great place for interdisciplinary creative studies. ACM identify as “World Leaders in Music Industry Education”. Also, in May 2008, they were awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation (Technology).

For 2020, ACM offers these two courses:

BA (Hons) Music Business & Innovation 

Career Prospects: Artist Manager, Radio Station Manager, Tour Manager, Music Agent, Radio Program Director, Cultural Administrator, Music Editor 

If you wish to pursue a life-long career in the creative industries, then this is the course for you! This Music business degree will heighten your skills by giving you knowledge and experience from industry experts. The modules equip you with knowledge from different areas of the music industry. These include A&R, Music Marketing & Branding, Self Employment, Music Streaming, Music Journalism and Music Publishing

It is definitely one of the best music business degrees in the UK! You will also be able to apply all of your in-class knowledge into real life situations, thanks to the support of tutors and mentors. 

BA (Hons) Commercial Songwriting Degree

Career Prospects: Singer-Songwriter, Composer, Film & TV Sync Artist, Jingle Writer, Music Journalist, Music Critic 

Maybe you have an inner-songwriting muse waiting to come out, but don’t know exactly how to unleash its full potential? This course is designed for you, and will help you to write for original artists, write briefs for films, and teach you about TV and Sync as well as music publishing and rights management. 

The modules comprise many tools in regards to songwriting and performing. Furthermore, you will develop a concept into a fully-fledged song with arrangements as well as scores and charts. You will learn the tricks of the trade, and develop as an artist and/or songwriter by developing, recording and releasing material. 

Apart from their music degree courses, what is great about ACM is their Pro Workshops. These include lectures and classes by industry leaders. ACM also offer tons of student benefits such as discounts at Apple, Andertons Music and Plug-in Developer Izotope! 

Why Choose ACM? 

ACM has some of the greatest industry links, and offers lots of variety. For example, working with their new record label Metropolis Blue at Europe’s largest independent recording facility, Metropolis Studios. 

There is also the possibility of joining ACM’s Private Network, where students can collaborate with a cloud-based platform using Music Gateway! You can connect, collaborate and work with music professionals worldwide from across the creative sectors. ACM Students also have access to Music Gateway’s Public Marketplace to make use of the 50% discount (Code: ACM50) on a Pro or Business membership upgrade. 

If you want to know more about ACM, check out their Digital Open Day Experiences!

Location: 5/5
Facilities: 5/5
Tutors: 4/5
Community: 4.5/5
Degree Options: 3.5/5
Industry Connections: 5/5 

Total Score: 4.5/5

LCCM: London College Of Creative Media 

LCCM school music

Alumni: Tom Walker, Rhys Lewis, Marie Dahlstrom 

The LCCM (also known as London College of Creative Media) is among the best universities in London for music production. It is located in the southern part of London, near Southwark Tube Station. 

Its location is one of the best for a music university, since it is surrounded by famous venues and pubs. For example, OMEARA, Blue Fin Venue, Royal Festival Hall and Ministry of Sound.

LCCM was built in 2002 by Darius Khwaja, whose intent was to create a new college for contemporary music in the centre of London. His focus was to offer a mix of production and performance within one unique music degree. LCCM was the first to offer the Bmus (Hons) in Music Performance and Music Production, which has become an industry staple with other subsequent music colleges in the UK. 

Here are the courses on offer in 2020:

BMUS (Hons) in Music Performance & Music Production

Career Prospects: Artists, Session Musicians, Composers, Lyricist, Creative industries graduate employee, creative industries entrepreneur. 

This is a highly personal and customisable course. For example, students can pick between 2 to 4 optional modules throughout their 3 year degree. You can decide whether to focus on Composing & Arranging, or Music Programming or Live Sound.The possibilities are endless, and you can create your path by choosing what makes you more fulfilled as an artist. 

The main focus of this course is on Music Performance (Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums) and Music Production, although many graduates enter the music industry in many different ways. 

Why Choose LCCM?

LCCM is the best for learning different skills from many areas of the music industry. It allows you to have a 360-degree overview of what happens on stage and off stage. Also, the location of the school allows you get the best possible experience living in London. You may be finishing your lectures, and go straight to a gig, or you might be setting up your busking gear just off the Southbank with the River Thames and Big Ben in the background. 

If you want to know more about LCCM, check out their website for Open Days! 

Location: 5/5
Facilities: 5/5
Tutors: 4/5
Community: 3.5/5
Degree Options: 5/5
Industry Connections: 4/5 

Total Score: 4.4/5

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How To Choose The Best Music University For You 

woman in record shop

After reading all of these reviews, you might have a better understanding of what is going on in the UK (especially in London). But how do you choose the best music university for you? 

Firstly, look at your values and what you wish to learn. Also, always remember to take into consideration:

  • Location
  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Pricing
  • Learning Outcomes 

My best suggestion would be to first write down what you want from your music career. Do you prefer enhancing production skills instead of business skills? Do you want to be always connected with a growing network of musicians? Or do you want it all? 

Although many times, you can’t always get what you want, it is a good idea to write down the three most important things you hope to achieve from your music degree. I would also highly recommend that you visit the music college, or at least speak with teachers (and if possible, students). 

Thanks to video chats, even future foreign students can view the facilities directly from their home, which makes it easier to make a wise choice. Also, speak with friends and family which will try to help you out. But, in the end, you should always follow your heart, and don’t be afraid of its answers. 

Always make sure to check the minimum requirements to apply. Most top music universities in the UK ask for in-college assessment as well as a minimum language standard for International music students (IELTS), as well as certain grades and results.

Good luck! If you’re looking for similar schools a bit further afield, check out our guide to the best music schools in the US.

Now that you have heard our recommendations for music universities in the UK, head to Music Gateway to collaborate and get sharpening your skills! We can also help with music promotion or sync opportunities, so make sure to sign up for your free 14 day trial.

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