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Music Industry Degrees: Which Music Business Degree Is For You?

Photograph of the blog post author, Sophia Atkinson

Sophia Atkinson

26.11.2020

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Are you a musician or artist at a crossroads in your development or are you someone simply looking for a way into the music industry? For many, the question is: will a music industry degree help further my career? 

With of the rise of university tuition fees in the UK to £9,250 for current students, increased remote teaching for the foreseeable future, and at least three years of full-time study. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. 

music industry degree

There’s plenty of time to decide what you really want to do. You just need to consider all the options. Hopefully, this article will help with your decision!

What Is A Music Business Degree?

The music industry ranges from performing and publishing, to administration, engineering, management, and digital marketing.

A specialised music business degree focuses on preparing students to be entrepreneurs. This means most offerings will comprise financial management, business planning, and relevant law modules. 

Moreover, most music business degrees and music business masters’ degrees allow you to tailor your modules to areas of importance or interest for your career. All of them, however, focus on the practicalities of being an artist. In addition, how to tackle the myriad of challenges you might face.

Popular modules on music industry degrees include for example: copyright legislation and music publishing, record label management, sound design, digital marketing, branding and festival management. 

In addition, if you do consider a music business degree, it’s worth researching which lecturers are teaching at the universities on your shortlist. Music industry courses are all about networking.

How Can A Music Business Degree Help Me With My Career?

music industry career

For performing musicians in 2020, the outlook is incredibly challenging. Just as the UK began opening the live music scene, another lockdown has been imposed. So, it’s easy to feel that the music industry has been on pause for eight months.

Elsewhere in higher education, there has been a real shift to moving into further study. With an impending recession fuelling a competitive job market. So as a result, postgraduate education, for example, has grown by 16% in 2020.

On the other hand, for musicians, it is unusual to have a formal application procedure for performance gigs. Even universities acknowledge the importance of practical experience, by accepting students without school qualifications.

Further, it is also very rare to be discounted from roles for lacking a music industry degree, as you could be for an audit job. So, why the dilemma if degrees are expensive, time-consuming, and not specifically required to be a musician? 

Music careers with longevity often involve adaptation to different sectors of the industry. You may not need a degree to perform. But, if you want to start your own music PR venture, music management group, or record company, a music business degree will help make people take you seriously.

In addition, it’ll also probably ensure you stay afloat with enough capital to grow your enterprise. Essentially, a music business degree will give you more options for careers in the music industry. 

What Skills Do I Need To Make It In The Music Business Industry?

music career

Musicians Have To Be Multi-Disciplinarians

Breaking into the music industry often means trying several avenues. As an oversaturated and informal labour market, artists entering the music industry must use every edge they have. 

However, this is not necessarily negative. The rise of independent artists and affordable technologies allow musicians to seize the means of production. Literally. As a result, many contemporary instrumentalists also record, mix, produce and promote their music to at least a semi-professional standard. 

By taking on the cost and hours themselves, artists have more creative control. In addition, they can also ensure that the profit made won’t be dissipated to third parties.

Therefore, taking on these roles, rather than outsourcing for technical production or media management saves money. It also limits the financial risk of your project. 

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The Best Musicians Are Entrepreneurs

There’s a reason Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Dr Dre have all established business empires. Or that J Cole has a degree in media and communications. Being a successful musician requires serious entrepreneurial skill.

Music entrepreneurs should understand entertainment law, marketing principles, business ethics, contract law and project management. Knowledge of these allows you to respond quickly and effectively, to protect your artistic interests. 

A music industry degree is probably the most effective way of gaining skills in all these areas in one place.

Music Success Stems From Collaboration 

What collaboration means in the current climate is shifting into virtual terrain. However, having a community of like-minded and passionate peers and strong relationships with tutors will always be vital. 

Collaborating not only makes you a better musician, it organically expands your audience and boosts exposure. To clarify, networking and collaborations can happen anywhere. In a university environment, however geared towards creative collaborating, the course should build connections for you while you study. 

Moreover, it’s no surprise so many professional music industry partners stemmed from connections made in music school.

As a result, University collaborations save you time scouting out potential bandmates/execs. In addition, pretty much guarantee a high level of musicianship in your cohort and challenge you to expand out of your niche. The importance of collaboration can’t be stressed enough in creative initiatives, especially so in the music industry. Luckily, there’s tons of social music software available to us to help us get started on our collaborative journeys!

Music Business Degree Online Or On Campus

music business degree students

Music business courses in UK universities for undergraduates and postgraduates are going ahead on a ‘blended learning’ basis. Incorporating both in-person and online tuition.

Above all, be aware that you can continue studying alongside your career. The majority offer flexible part-time options over a longer period. Please visit have a look at our top picks for UK music universities.

Music business short courses vary. Guildhall’s one-year ‘Creative Entrepreneurs’ business incubator program, for example, is not going ahead this year. No decision has been made yet about 2021-2022. 

Depending on personal circumstances, you may be interested in studying at an international music school. American schools, like Berklee College of Music, offer a very impressive music business degree. 

Berklee, amongst others, are offering remote learning and study for the foreseeable future. Check out our shortlist of top music schools in the US here. If you’re interested in studying internationally, check out the faculty website for the university’s Covid-19 response.

How To Choose The Right Music Business Course For Me

When applying for a music business degree, it’s key to ensure the course will give you a competitive edge. So, one of the best ways to do this is to ensure the course itself aligns with your career aspirations.

For instance, if you’re a musician with hopes of running your own events company in the future, ensure the course offering has modules relating to event management and live sound. 

Research and compare the reputations and professional networks of universities. Just because the music college is in London however, does not guarantee access and networking opportunities with venues and industry professionals in the city.

Check if there are any close associations with venues. Be sure there are exciting employability opportunities. Masterclasses and networking events for instance. BIMM, for example, runs the platform, ‘BIMM connect’. This allows current students to reach out informally to alumni and faculty for advice and music industry job prospects. 

Elsewhere, Leeds College of Music allows you to centre your studies around your own business plan. They run business faculty run 1-1 sessions for an hour per week. Here, students can discuss projects with an industry professional.

While many music BAs have optional business-related modules, for instance production, media, management, and music business. BAs could be worth investigating to appreciate performing in the context of the wider music industry. Developing skills that can drive your own performing and/or music industry career further. 

In addition, music business degrees also very often incorporate placements, usually in the second year of a three-year course.

Course Requirements

Always check course requirements. Most music schools avoid making their admissions process too elitist. But without specific qualifications, there may be administrative hoops to jump through. 

For instance, some courses like BA Music Business at LCCM, ask that you demonstrate skills in Music Technology, Business or Economics, English Language or Media and Communications.

Without some grounding in at least one of these areas, students are required to do a foundation year before commencing the three-year BA.  

Our Conclusion On Music Business Degrees

girl finishing music industry degree

Choosing to embark on a music business or music industry degree is no mean feat. The admissions process, graft, and expense should not be underestimated. The current socially distanced climate for musicians is incredibly hostile. However, this presents an opportunity to focus on skill-building. 

Music business degrees can absolutely be worth your while as a progressing musician. The right degree choice might just transform your career.

The practical skills in financial management, music licensing, law, marketing proposals, sound tech and production will not only make you a better musician, however. It will also better prepare you for taking on the multiple roles required of a performing musician.

Most importantly, music business degrees connect you to other musicians and entrepreneurs. And allow you to creatively collaborate on real-world projects. The best courses have strong professional ties with venues and industry professionals. Providing talented students with work experience opportunities alongside their studies. 

In conclusion, choosing the right degree and college is not an easy task. Depending on what your goal is, you should choose a couple of options and apply. I hope that this article helped provide some insight into Music Business Degrees!

Are You An Artist?

Now that you have heard our recommendations for Music Business Degrees, 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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