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Typically, when people think of music careers, they don't think of a traditional degree track. They imagine piling equipment into vans and touring small venues, or hours spent practicing alone or with tutors. But this is a narrow look at the field, and music programs open up a myriad of careers, ranging from performance to production management. Often, students focus on an instrument, music style, or role, like conducting or composing.
Keep reading for more information on career opportunities, professional resources, and advancement opportunities for music professionals.
Why Pursue a Career in Music?
Music graduates may find work with performing arts companies, K-12 schools, and religious organizations, and can also focus on different music topics, like technology and composition.
These options allow creative thinkers to create and oversee musical productions in careers that reflect their interests. For example, professionals who want to lead groups of musicians can become conductors or music producers. Likewise, individuals who love working with children can pursue K-12 music teaching positions or oversee children's choirs.
Professionals should understand the technical aspects of music and excel at promoting products and events. They should also be committed to their craft and be able to endure hectic schedules and criticism.
Music Career Outlook
Details like location and industry influence earnings for music careers. Music directors and composers, for example, average $59,790. However, their average earnings increase to nearly $80,000 in the industry of promoting performing arts, sports, and similar events. Furthermore, music directors and composers in Minnesota earn more than $88,000 on average.
Career availability for directors and composers also varies by industry and location. Specifically, religious organizations and New York offer the highest employment levels.
Additionally, experience level impacts pay. The following chart highlights these changes for music directors, teachers, and composers.
Skills Gained with a Music Degree
Music programs build a variety of skills that prepare graduates for careers in the music industry. While different programs emphasize different skills for different career paths — music performance and music business, for example, require distinct abilities — most musicians have at least a passing knowledge of the field's common practices.
Students gain their knowledge from an assortment of sources, including the classroom, live performances, internships, and other professional experiences.
Programs in instrumental or vocal performance stress technical proficiency, giving students the skills to perform demanding pieces of music. Some programs may introduce a variety of styles, while others emphasize one style of playing, such as jazz or classical.
Live performance often forms a significant part of a professional musician's career, and students in an instrumental or vocal program prepare to perform in front of an audience. Students gain experience through extensive practice as well as live performances — both in school and at traditional music venues.
Some programs focus specifically on composition, but all music students benefit from a knowledge of music theory and practice in composition. Studying composition helps musicians become better players and writers, and even performance-focused programs typically include general courses in composing music.
Many musicians teach music either full time or part time, whether through private lessons or teaching in school music programs. Even programs that do not focus specifically on music education often include general pedagogical training that gives students the tools to teach others how to play music.
As with any artform, musicians learn by studying the styles of the past. Almost all music programs emphasize the history of music, exploring major styles and training students to recognize and analyze various forms of music, both in Western and non-Western styles.
Music Career Paths
Given the variety of specialized careers available in music, choosing a concentration is among the most important academic decisions for music students. Concentration options vary widely between schools and programs, but most offer options in performance. More specialized concentrations — such as music therapy or popular songwriting — may be less widely available. Colleges dedicated specifically to music, such as Berklee or Julliard, typically offer the widest assortment of concentration options.
The list below highlights four of the most common music concentration options, giving you an idea of what to expect from each path.
The most common concentration for music majors, performance typically trains students in either vocal performance or the instrument of their choice. Performance majors receive a broad overview of music theory, composition, music history, and technical skills. Performers often specialize in one area of performance, such as pop, jazz, choir, or classical.
Composition explores approaches to the writing of music, typically encompassing topics such as music theory, orchestration, analysis, counterpoint, and performance. Students also gain a comprehensive understanding of the history of music, most commonly focusing on the Western canon as well as non-Western music.
Training students to serve as music instructors for both private lessons and music classes, the music education concentration explores the intersection of music performance and pedagogy. Students gain an understanding of the unique challenges of music education, along with tools to engage aspiring musicians of all ages.
Focusing on the technical side of the music industry, music production trains students for jobs as producers and audio engineers. Most programs stress the use of digital technology in the process of music production, exploring modern techniques for recording, mixing, and mastering all genres of music.
How to Start Your Career in Music
Many musicians begin studying vocal or instrumental performance as children through private lessons and K-12 programs. This informal training, along with rigorous practice, can lead to careers as mainstream songwriters or artists.
Individuals can also pursue degrees to enhance their career options. An associate degree, for instance, may qualify professionals to become tour coordinators or teaching assistants in music classrooms.
The majority of music professions, though, call for at least a bachelor's. These careers include music producers, teachers, and therapists. Graduate degrees prepare professionals for advanced positions like composer, college professor, and music historian.
Candidates should research the requirements for their intended careers to determine what degrees, licenses, and certifications are necessary.
Associate Degree in Music
A two-year associate degree requires the least time and commitment of any music degree, but it also confers the fewest skills and career prospects. These programs typically focus on one area of the field and introduce major concepts and skills, such as audio production or vocal performance. However, an associate degree traditionally lacks the in-depth focus of a bachelor's, offering only an overview of your concentration area.
While not the most competitive degree, an associate program can still open a variety of career paths. However, if you want the best chance to advance in your chosen field, you may consider earning a bachelor's degree.
What Can You Do with an Associate in Music?
Tour coordinators help musicians plan and organize tours at the regional, national, or international level. They may be responsible for many of the major logistical concerns, such as booking hotel rooms, communicating with venues, and making travel arrangements. A degree in music business typically serves as the best preparation for this job.
Associate degree graduates cannot serve as music teachers, but they may work as teaching assistants while pursuing a bachelor's degree. Assistants help with music instruction, often working with small groups or individual students. They may also assist with creating lesson plans and planning class activities.
Graduates of associate programs may find entry-level administrative positions in the music industry working with record labels or artist management agencies. Administrative assistants typically schedule meetings, coordinate office logistics, take phone calls, and compile office data. Assistants may also interact with musicians and other industry personnel.
Bachelor's Degree in Music
A bachelor's degree is the most common educational requirement for careers in music, enabling graduates to pursue employment in most sections of the industry. A bachelor's in music typically builds comprehensive knowledge of one specialized area, such as performance or production.
This degree prepares you to pursue a variety of entry-level careers with the prospect of advancement, whether you hope to become a performer, a teacher, or a songwriter. While most music programs take place on campus, some schools use distance education technology to offer online music degrees.
What Can You Do with a Bachelor's in Music?
Musicians and singers perform music in a variety of settings, such as bars, clubs, concert halls, and theaters. They may play locally or tour nationally and internationally. Some musicians may forgo touring to work primarily in the studio. Many musicians work as freelancers.
Music teachers instruct students either privately or in classes, training less experienced musicians in both music performance and appreciation. Music teachers may offer generalized instruction for entire classes or work with students individually. After earning a bachelor's degree, graduates often teach at the K-12 level.
Unique among most music careers, music therapists serve clients with mental, physical, or developmental issues and use music in a restorative capacity. They may lead clients in exercises such as singing, playing instruments, or moving to music. Music therapists must assess client needs to determine the best use of music in each situation.
Music directors supervise music programs within a variety of organizations, including churches, radio stations, and schools. They typically perform many different duties, including organizing and conducting performances, making music selections for events, arranging music compositions for performances, and scheduling rehearsals.
Music producers work with artists in the studio to create recorded music. Producers assume responsibility for the technical side of music and work alongside other studio engineers to ensure that a recording faithfully captures an artist's sound. More experienced producers may also offer input on the artistic side, such as advising composition and songwriting.
Master's Degree in Music
For most professionals in the music industry, a master's degree is the highest educational requirement necessary. A master's opens the door to many management and leadership positions and offers the potential for advancement to the highest levels of most career paths. Master's degree graduates can also pursue all the careers available to bachelor's degree graduates, and the additional qualification comes with a competitive edge in hiring and higher salary prospects.
Master's programs offer advanced skills in areas such as production, performance, and business. Most programs only admit applicants with significant music experience, enabling many schools to offer their graduate degrees online.
What Can You Do with a Master's in Music?
Composers create original music for a variety of outlets, such as popular music, advertising, movies, or video games. Typically working in a freelance capacity, they may pursue several projects at once or dedicate their energy to one composition at a time. Composers need high-level knowledge of music and the ability to write in different styles.
Sound designers craft the sounds for media productions that fall outside of traditional music, such as sound effects. They typically take responsibility for the overall sound of a production, ensuring that music and sound effects work together harmoniously. Sound designers work on all types of media, including films, television shows, and video games.
Students who earn their master's in music business can advance to the highest levels of the music industry, working in top executive positions. Like most advanced corporate professionals, executive directors oversee business operations and develop strategies to help their businesses remain competitive. Music executives today commonly focus on new methods to reach consumers through digital platforms.
Doctoral Degree in Music
As the highest level of education attainable in most professional fields, a doctorate develops comprehensive music knowledge in a highly specialized field. However, for most aspiring professionals, this degree is not necessary for career success. A doctorate typically serves music majors interested in academic careers or the highest levels of composition or conducting. Doctoral programs in the discipline often focus on advanced subfields such as music theory or ethnomusicology.
A doctorate requires several years of advanced study along with a comprehensive research project, such as a thesis. The degree requires substantial coursework and dedication, but graduates can pursue rewarding, high paying careers.
What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Music?
College professors instruct undergraduate and graduate students at the postsecondary level. Professors who hold a doctorate in music may instruct in many subjects, such as composition, music theory, performance, and music history. Professors also typically conduct their own research into music.
Historians analyze and interpret the past, exploring both historical topics and the means through which current societies understand them. Some doctoral graduates may specialize in music history, exploring music in various historical, cultural, economic, and political contexts. Music historians may work at colleges, museums, or other cultural institutions.
How to Advance Your Career in Music
Advanced careers in music may require graduate degrees or certifications. For example, music professors need a master's or doctorate, and K-12 music teachers need a state-recognized license or certification.
There are, however, other ways to pursue professional advancement. For example, individuals can connect with professional organizations and explore training, workshops, and certificate programs that hone music skills and knowledge.
The following sections overview some of these opportunities in detail. Readers should note, though, that these are only a small sample of options, and potential students should research opportunities linked to their career goals.
Certifications and/or Licensure
Public K-12 music teachers need a teaching license or certification. Criteria for these credentials vary by state, but commonly include a bachelor's and passing scores on a licensing or certification exam. Recertification details also vary by location.
Music therapists in some states must hold certification through the Certification Board for Music Therapists. This credential, called the music therapy board certification (MT-BC), requires a passing score on the MT-BC examination. Professionals in states that do not require the MT-BC can still pursue the credential for advancement opportunities. Recipients must renew the certification after five years and pay an annual fee.
Continuing education (CE) experiences can help music professionals sharpen their skills and learn about new technology for music production. These details can lead to career advancement or help musicians and singers create more refined products. Some licenses and certifications may also require CE hours for renewal.
Professionals can complete certificate programs at colleges and universities to earn CE credits. Institutions offer these programs on a variety of music topics, like jazz guitar, lyric writing, and music business entrepreneurship. Individuals can also earn advanced degrees in music.
Organizations may also offer professional development opportunities for CE experiences. For instance, the National Association for Music Education (NafME) offers professional development experiences in areas such as band directing, instrument repair, and music literature. Individuals can also earn professional development certificates by reading NafME's Music Educators Journal and completing quizzes on articles.
Other CE opportunities include workshops, fellowships, and free online courses.
In addition to CE experiences and certifications, professionals can explore networking options to learn new music concepts and techniques from other professionals' experiences. These connections also foster relationships with people who understand the music business, and can offer support during times of stress.
Professional organizations often host conferences, seminars, and lectures that encourage networking and explore current trends, research, and technology for careers in music. These groups frequently deliver publications on field ideas and may also offer career guidance through resume reviews and job listings.
Music professionals can also explore pop culture resources and music charts to determine what styles and techniques are in demand. They can also attend local concerts to stay up-to-date on genre trends. Just as good writers read vociferously, aspiring musicians benefit from exposure to as much music as possible.
How to Switch Your Career to Music
When considering any career change, it's important to know what level of education will be necessary. For instance, K-12 music teachers need a degree that prepares for teaching licensure or certification, while music therapists need a bachelor's and clinical experience.
Some careers for a music major also mandate graduate degrees. To become a classical conductor for a symphony, for example, professionals typically need a master's in music conducting, theory, or composition.
Professionals in creative industries may find their talents steering them to switch to music. For instance, writers may find rewarding work as lyricists, and actors may choose to pursue careers in music production for film and theater.
Individuals in advertising and marketing can use their understanding of consumers to write jingles for companies. Technology professionals, furthermore, can work in audio engineering, and public relations specialists can work as agents and representatives for record labels.
Where Can You Work With A Music Degree?
Music majors often find work providing musical accompaniment in the performing arts, creating sound for theater or ballet productions. At a more advanced level, they may serve as music directors for performing arts companies.
Music also plays a role in many religious services. Musicians interested in the faith-based application of music may work with churches or other religious organizations to provide music for worship services.
Freelance employment is a popular option for musicians, as it offers the freedom to pursue a variety of projects. Songwriters, performers, composers, and sound designers often work in a freelance capacity.
For those interested in staying behind the scenes, event promotion offers the chance to engage with the industry without getting onstage. Promoters organize and publicize various events and concerts, typically working alongside managers and other professionals.
Music production is another option for professionals who wish to remain offstage. Music majors can find a variety of employment prospects at studios and similar spaces, helping to shape music recording practices.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Interview with a Professional
Dr. Steve Meredith has a joint appointment at Southern Utah University as both an assistant professor of music, where he is the director of the music technology program, and as an assistant to the president for institutional effectiveness. Dr. Meredith received his bachelor of music and master of music degrees from the University of Utah in choral music education, and he earned his doctor of musical arts degree in choral music from Arizona State University.
I actually get asked this question quite regularly. To be honest, it really never occurred to me to do anything else. My situation is somewhat unique in that I started my professional career as a singer while still in my middle teens, and so I was used to taking lessons at the university (University of Utah) from the time I was 14 years old. It just seemed like a natural progression for me to continue studying music at the university, and it was just such a big part of my life from an early age that I never seriously entertained any other career path.
I can honestly say that my career in music has been exceptionally rewarding, specifically because I have been able to combine professional activities as a performer and producer with my love of teaching others about music. The result has been a very nice balance between a sense of professional accomplishment and the gratification that comes with helping the next generation of musicians.
One interesting side note to my career path is my focus on music technology. This has been driven largely by seat-of-the-pants training, since schools and programs — and YouTube tutorials! — did not exist when I was starting out. As a senior in college, I took a general education course in the physics program at the university, and it completely changed the way I looked at music.
For the first time I saw it as both art and science, and I immediately began tinkering with the new, "home studio" technology that was emerging at the time. I received excellent training as a musician in my undergraduate and graduate programs, but it has always been a little bit ironic to me that one of the single most impactful courses of my career was taught by a non-musician, in a different academic department.
I have had a very wide-ranging career, as you can see from my bio. As a performer and producer this has meant many hours spent on stages and in studios around the world. In the academic world, this has meant directing college choirs, teaching music theory and sight singing courses, and courses in music technology. I have enjoyed these assignments immensely! But my career really expanded as I became an administrator (department chair, dean, etc.), as this gave me the chance to not just teach, but also to develop academic programs.
As a result, I have developed many AA/AS programs in music and music technology, a bachelor of music program in commercial music (at Snow College), and two master's degrees at SUU — one in music technology and the other in interdisciplinary studies. My goal as a teacher of music students has always been to provide them with both the necessary artistic training and pre-professional opportunities that will prepare them to apply the skills that they have learned in the classroom and in the studio.
My focus on professional internships led me to build an arts and entertainment technology institute, a television station that is in over 300,000 homes in the greater Phoenix area, and film production and post-production programs.
If I might be allowed to editorialize for a moment — there is one thing that has vexed me throughout my academic career, and it is the very real separation that exists in music as it is taught at colleges and universities, versus what a professional musician actually needs to know to be successful.
In terms of skill development, the academic and professional requirements overlap each other somewhat (although not nearly as much as they should), but there is a real dearth of training for students in technology, business, and a number of other very important things that are critical to career success as a musician. This disconnection between the art and commerce of a career in music is still prevalent at universities, and it is a disservice to our music students as they prepare to enter the music business.
Teaching at the college and university level is a very common career path for musicians. This is especially true at the adjunct teaching level. Many musicians who perform or compose professionally as their "day job" maintain robust private teaching studios as adjunct instructors at colleges and universities.
There are some wonderful advantages to being an adjunct instructor, including flexibility of schedule, the ability to network with current and emerging professionals, and access to the facilities that colleges and universities provide. The downside to adjunct teaching is that the pay is comparatively low — and that the university does not typically provide a benefits package (retirement, health insurance) for adjunct employees.
These disadvantages largely disappear with full-time employment, as almost all universities provide full benefits packages to their full-time employees. However, as a full-time teacher, some of the flexibility to engage in professional activities goes away — especially during the school year. Short-term engagements are possible, but longer tours or large-scale projects can be difficult to take part in when one is a full-time faculty member at a university.
My career path as an educator has been significantly helped by my graduate degree studies. In terms of teaching at the college and university level, a master's degree (for colleges) and a doctoral degree (for universities) is almost a required "union card" at this point. So, if you plan a career as a teacher in higher education, plan on getting at least a master's degree, and probably a doctorate, which typically is either a DMA for those in performance, composition, and conducting — or a Ph.D or Ed.D for those in music education.
In terms of the effect that graduate degrees have had on my career as a performer, there has been a lesser — but still very important — impact. If your intention is to perform or write professionally, talent, persistence, and entrepreneurship are far more important than academic credentials. But beware — almost all musicians end up doing some sort of teaching in their careers, and the lack of an academic credential is a significant hindrance.
I cannot tell you the number of phone calls I get from professional colleagues that have been performing for years, and now wish to "get off the road," but they lack the academic background to get a job at a college or university — despite the fact that their professional experience and savvy would be a wonderful resource for emerging professional musicians.
If I could change one thing about music in higher education, it might be this separation between music at the "academy" vs. music as it is practiced in the "real world." Nevertheless, with the way things are currently structured, I usually recommend that anyone serious about a career in music pursue a graduate degree, so as not to limit their career options.
There are a number of ways in which pursuing a degree in music is substantially different that pursuing a career in music. When students (or their parents) ask me for advice regarding a degree in music, I usually ask the following questions:
First, how do you plan to use the degree? Is it going to be something you pursue professionally, or do you plan on using the music degree to serve as a pre-professional degree in anticipation of applying for graduate school in some other discipline? Most people are unaware that a degree in music is typically very well-received by graduate programs in medicine and law. If a student suggests this pathway, then I recommend a BA/BS degree in music rather than a B.Mus.
Second, are you hoping to monetize this degree as a musician? What do you see yourself doing as a musician after your college experience? Do you see yourself as a hobbyist or making all or part of your living as a musician? If a career as a musician is in your plans, I would most likely recommend a B. Mus, as it will better prepare you for the challenges you will face as a professional musician.
When students (or their parents) ask me for advice regarding a career in music, I usually ask the following questions:
- How do you assess your talent level? Have you had anyone with a professional opinion that you trust give you a similar assessment?
- What about your personality type? Are you good working collaboratively? Are you willing to take constructive criticism and corrections over and over again in order to master a skill?
- How comfortable are you working several jobs at once? Musicians invented the "gig" economy, so it is good to be prepared to cobble together 3-4 jobs (or more) in order to make a living. Prepare to teach private lessons or at a school, work in a variety of ensembles, write or arrange for your instrument, and master the technology of music production and social media. These skills and a willingness to work in a wide variety of situations will help to ensure your success as a musician.
- Are you comfortable networking with other music professionals? This is very important.
Finally, do not be discouraged if your music career does not immediately take off. A career in music takes time to build because it is largely based on professional contacts, and those will take time to develop.
The application process for a music major does differ slightly from a traditional academic program. The primary difference is that you will be asked to audition on your instrument or voice as part of the application process to enter the music degree program. Typically, these auditions also serve as scholarship auditions, and for students with high levels of talent and/or skills on an instrument or voice type that is generally in short supply (such as an oboe player or a tenor, for example), this could be a great way to fund your college experience.
Because I have occupied positions of leadership in academic music programs throughout my career, I have often been asked by students and their parents if a degree in music is a wise academic choice. I believe that it is! But it is important for students and parents to recognize that a degree in music is a very challenging undergraduate experience. Being a music major is far more all-encompassing than most other college majors, and it is important for anyone considering becoming a music major to realize that they will have to very carefully budget their time and remain focused.
Resources for Music Majors
Professionals should keep their skills sharp when pursuing careers with a music degree. To accomplish this, individuals can attend conferences or participate in workshops hosted by professional organizations. Other options for honing skills include certifications and free online courses. The upcoming sections provide more information on some of these opportunities.
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia: The world's largest and oldest music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha was started in 1898 at the New England Conservatory in Boston. The fraternity is dedicated to the mutual welfare of musical students, as well as the advancement of music in America.
Sigma Alpha Iota: SAI is a national sorority with a commitment to the highest standards of music. The sorority aims to further the development of music in the U.S. and around the world. The sorority also promotes the recognition of technological advances in the field of music and the support of innovative educational programs in music.
Pi Kappa Lambda: The purpose of this honor society is to promote music in education. The society recognizes and honors those who have enhanced their talent with the diligent and intelligent study of music and encourages others to do the same.
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences: Best known for the Grammy Awards, the Academy consists of three organizations: the Recording Academy, which celebrates music through the Grammys; the Grammy Foundation, which cultivates the understanding, appreciation and advancement of recorded music; and Music Cares, which provides assistance for musicians in times of need.
Americana Music Association: This professional trade organization advocates for American folk and roots music around the world. The association works behind the scenes to foster growth and build infrastructure to help participants achieve greater success.
Association of Music Producers: AMP raises awareness about music production and promotes the goals of people who make music. The association has chapters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Austin and Miami. AMP was founded in 1998 to educate members, those in the media, and advertising communities on all aspects of music production.
Audio Engineering Society: AES maintains both professional and student memberships. The society serves audio engineers, creative artists, scientists and students to promote advances in audio technology.
Music Jobs: One of the premier job listings websites for musicians, Music Jobs catalogs several types of career opportunities in the music industry, including teaching, business, and performance. Users can filter results by job type, location, or keyword, and the site also includes listings for internships.
American Federation of Musicians: The largest labor union for professional musicians in the country, AFM works to protect the rights of musicians. The organization focuses on negotiating fair contracts, protecting ownership of music, lobbying for musician-friendly legislation, and securing professional benefits such as healthcare and pensions.
Sonicbids: A networking platform for musicians and music promoters, Sonicbids connects musicians with opportunities to play and build their industry exposure. The site includes open call listings for festivals and other music events, giving musicians a chance to win high-profile opening slots. Sonicbids also hosts a blog that covers current music industry topics.
Bandcamp: A major platform for hosting and sharing music online, Bandcamp also serves as a venue for artists to sell physical copies of their music, along with other merchandise. The site's detailed statistics tools enable musicians to see which of their songs are the most popular and where their music is shared online.
SoundCloud: Another major platform for sharing music online, SoundCloud focuses on individual songs rather than full albums. Known as a hotbed of up-and-coming artists, the site enables musicians to connect directly with fans and promote new songs. Along with providing extensive listening statistics, SoundCloud also allows musicians to earn money from plays of their songs.
Artist Growth: A cloud-based platform for managers and musicians, Artist Growth focuses primarily on resources for touring musicians. Some of the application's many tools include roster management and financial tracking. Users can even access funding services that enable artists to borrow cash for immediate expenses against future advances.
Music Business Worldwide: Focusing on the business side of the music industry, MBW offers news and analysis of current trends in the industry, helping music executives and other professionals keep track of new developments. The site also hosts a podcast and extensive job listings for music industry positions.
BandZoogle: A website creation tool designed specifically for musicians, BandZoogle offers a powerful platform to post songs, tour dates, news updates, and maintain an online store. Users can easily operate and update their site from BandZoogle's mobile app, making the service ideal for touring musicians and managers.
Songtrust: An online platform dedicated to music publishing, Songtrust enables musicians to easily organize the publishing rights to their music and collect publishing royalties worldwide. The service automates music publishing administration, making it easy to ensure proper royalty collection from streaming sites such as Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music.
Radar Music Creatives: A unique service focused specifically on visual content for the music industry, Radar connects musicians with filmmakers, designers, and photographers, helping creative professionals collaborate on music videos, publicity photos, and other media. The site also maintains a blog focusing on the intersection of music and visual media.
In addition to formal college courses taken as part of an accredited degree program, students can access open courseware. These specialized online courses are taught by experienced musicians and faculty members, and many are offered free of charge.
Desktop Music Production for PC - Berklee: The world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston offers this class as a for-credit course ($1,400), and as a non-credit course ($1,200), with the option of acquiring six continuing education units for an additional $25. The course covers desktop music production and results in participants being able to produce a quality master recording ready for CD or MP3. This course is also available for Mac.
Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering - Rochester: This University of Rochester course teaches students the basic concepts of acoustics and electronics, as well as how this knowledge can be used to make music with electronic instruments. This free six-week course requires 4-5 hours of work per week and offers the opportunity to earn a verified certificate for $49.
Introduction to Music - ETSU: Eastern Tennessee State University offers this course on the development of music, particularly the music of the Western hemisphere. The class covers topics such as elements of music, instruments and ensembles, and form. The goal of the course is to develop music literacy through listening to and thinking about music.
Fundamentals of Rehearsing Music Ensembles - UNC: This University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill course provides instruction on the practice and principles of running an effective music ensemble rehearsal. Students discuss techniques and strategies that can be applied to ensembles, including bands, orchestras, choirs, and chamber groups. The course is free and requires 4-6 hours per week of work.
Open Access Journals
EURASIP Journal on Audio, Speech and Music Processing: This peer-reviewed journal brings together engineers, scientists and researchers who research and work on the processing of different audio sources. The journal features a focus on speech and music.
Gamut: Online Journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic: Published quarterly by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this peer-reviewed journal includes commentary, research, criticism and scholarship on a wide range of topics related to music theory.
Music and Politics: The University of Santa Barbara publishes this peer-reviewed electronic journal twice a year. The journal covers the intersection and interaction of music and politics, including the impact of politics on the lives of musicians and music as a form of discourse.
Echo, A Music-Centered Journal: Published on a rolling basis by the University of California, Los Angeles, this peer-reviewed publication is edited by graduate students in the department of musicology. The journal provides a discussion of music and culture accessible to all readers, even those without formal training.
Music and Music Production Books
The Music Producer's Handbook: This technical reference book includes detailed descriptions of the duties and responsibilities of a music producer. The book covers questions like "how do I become a producer?" The author, Bobby Owsinski, has written two dozen books on music and is one of the best-selling authors in the music industry.
The Art of Music Production: Author Richard James Burgess, Ph.D., is a studio musician who has performed on multiple gold, platinum, and multi-platinum records. His book contains insights and anecdotes from some of the most successful producers in the industry.
Music Theory for Computer Musicians: DJs, musicians, and producers of electronic music understand how to play their instruments and create music on a computer, but often lack the in-depth knowledge of music theory that will allow them to put together professional tracks. Michael Hewitt, an associate professor of music at University of Maryland School of Music, provides insight in this regard.
The Quincy Jones Legacy Series: Few names in music are more respected than legendary producer, writer, and performer Quincy Jones. The Soul and Science of Mastering Music and Work is the first of a multi-volume set that is a must-read for anyone who wants to enter the music business on either side of the microphone.
The Producer as Composer: This book tracks the evolution of music, from the early days of recreating the concert hall experience, to Phil Spector and his wall of sound, to the magic of George Martin and The Beatles, through to the latest technical developments. This title includes discussions with legendary producers like Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, Bill Laswell, and Quincy Jones.
Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop: Built on years of research among hip-hop producers, this book explores the goals and methods of this startlingly cloistered community. The book considers a variety of topics, including pedagogical methods and the roots of the sampling process.
Music Connection: A leading trade publication since 1977, this monthly magazine features a fully digital edition that caters to musicians, industry professionals, and related support services.
Music Week: This publication is dedicated to the business of music. Available online, it features news, analysis, interviews, and reports covering the spectrum of careers in the music industry.
Music Trades: Music Trades is one of the oldest continuously published music industry magazines. First published in 1890, the publication now features a fully digital format and covers news and analysis of the music trades. The magazine is produced monthly and is a must-read for anyone who makes their living in the music and audio industry.
Sound on Sound: Based in Cambridge, England, Sound on Sound is the premier magazine for music recording technology. Published since 1985, the magazine offers an online digital subscription. Sound on Sound covers recording software, DAWs, virtual instruments, processors, and other aspects of music technology.
MusicTech: MusicTech.net is the online version of MusicTech Magazine, which is produced by experts who work in the fields of recording, mixing, and mastering music in a range of styles. The magazine features reviews, tips, and techniques for producers and engineers.
Producer's Edge: This publication refers to itself as the journal of hip hop, R&B and rap music production. Its goal is to provide a roadmap to guide readers, from beat makers to full fledged producers. Readers can access tutorials and gear reviews.
Recording Magazine: Available in print and online, Recording Magazine features a mix of articles, how-tos, reviews, interviews, and DIY guides. The magazine began in 1987 and continues to be a resource for recording musicians, giving them the information they need to make the best possible recordings.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on your dedication and willingness to take on a variety of different jobs. Music careers allow individuals to earn a living while fostering their creativity. Professionals benefit from a variety of career options in areas like sound engineering, education, and performance. Individuals can also focus on specific genres or instruments, work in advertising, or write journal articles on music. Individuals who love music often find this career path highly rewarding.
While it's possible to become famous with just a garage and a dream, most careers in music call for a music degree. Average pay for music bachelor's-holders is around $52,000, while master's graduates average more than $54,000. Academic programs can also help professionals in careers that do not require degrees, like mainstream songwriters, by teaching them about new techniques and trends.
Factors like location, experience, and industry can impact music professionals' salaries. Generally, though, the highest-paying careers are graduate-level professions. Executive directors and professors, for instance, average more than $75,000. Bachelor's professions often pay an average of $40,000-$50,000, with music producers averaging more than $51,000.
Earning a music career can be challenging, with many hopeful musicians never attaining their dream jobs. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that some music careers, like directors and composers, will grow more slowly than average in 2019-2029. This competition increases the importance of earning music degrees and certifications to help candidates stand out from competition.
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