Music Business Degrees

Table of Contents

A degree in Music Business will steer you on the path toward becoming an integral part of the industry as a whole. By learning critical skills like business, finance, management, marketing and entrepreneurship as they pertain to the field, you’ll enter the job with the know-how to become an A&R type, manage bands and artists, or even run your label. Majoring in Music Business also gives you a solid understanding of things like music theory and aural training–couple that with the business end, and you’ll be able to command your own career as an independent musician. In any case, choosing this route will make you a well-rounded business savvy and attractive candidate to a multitude of companies.

Degrees Awarded

  • Certificate
  • Associates
  • Bachelors
  • Masters

What will you learn? Classes and Prerequisites:

The demands for each degree, certification and school varies, but most require similar recommended courses or prerequisites. Core classes will differ in name from school-to-school, however, they generally cover a similar spectrum of principles and practices. Below are a list of classes you will commonly be need to take:

  • Music Business
  • Marketing
  • Finance and Accounting courses
  • Promotions
  • Networking
  • Music Theory
  • Music History
  • Four year schools typically make students fulfill general coursework in humanities, science, foreign language, English and mathematics

How much can you make? Salary Info:

The pay range for people working in the industry is a bit ambiguous, however, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 report for Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes, the median annual income was $62,940 while the top 90% raked in around $187K…

What can you do with a music business degree? Possible Careers:

  • A&R Manager
  • Label Owner/Employee
  • Promotions
  • Music Marketer
  • Talent Buyer/Booker
  • Tour Manager
  • Copyright Administrator
  • Music Supervisor

Best Schools for Music Business

Here are some of the schools who offer degrees in Music Business:

Full Sail University – Winter Park, Florida

The B.S in Music Business degree is offered in two formats, the first is a 20 month long course of study located on campus in Winter Park, Florida, and the second route available is a 32 month long version, which is completed entirely online. Future students of this program can expect to learn the mechanisms that make the music industry tick, by completing courses in music business, marketing, entrepreneurship and statistics. A key selling point for Full Sail, aside from their leading edge programs, is the Momentum Scholarship, which awards up to $20,000 to eligible students. Audio Assemble has also published a Full Sail University review from a former student.

  1. Full Sail offers one Bachelor of Science in Music Business, one on campus and another completely online.
    • On Campus requirements:
      • 20 Months to complete
      • Business courses pertaining to the music industry
      • Marketing, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Data Analysis
      • Business Law
      • Managerial courses
      • Music Copyright and Publishing
      • Concert Management and Touring
      • English Composition, Professional Writing, Science, Psychology and other core courses
    • Online requirements:
      • 32 months to complete
      • Requires the same course of study to complete the degree
Tuition & Fees:

Getting straight to the point, the BS in Music Business from Full Sail is going to cost you $56,000 total.

Berklee College of Music – Boston, Massachusetts

Berklee has long been a revered school with a reputation for producing high quality musicians and industry types, and their Bachelor of Music Business/Management degree, holds true to this precedent. One of the best things about this program are the options of three different tracks to choose from for the Bachelor degree: Music Management; Music Marketing; Entrepreneurial. They also have several partnerships with other South New Hampshire University  to complete an MBA in Music Business online.

  1. Bachelor of Music in Music Business requirements by chosen track:
    • Management track
      • Core courses in Music Theory, Ensemble, Private Instrument Instruction, Ear Training, Writing, Literature and other General Electives
      • Principles of Economics, Business Management, Legal Aspects of the Music Industry, Principles of Financial Accounting,Business Leadership and Ethics
      • Marketing, Record Company Operations, Music Publishing
      • Business Finance, Music Intermediaries: Agents, Managers, and Attorneys
      • Internship
    • Marketing track
      • Core courses in Music Theory, Ensemble, Private Instrument Instruction, Ear Training, Writing, Literature and other General Electives
      • Principles of Economics, Business Management
      • Principles of Marketing,Music Product Development, Creative Promotion in New media
      • Digital marketing in the Music Industry
      • Internship in Music Business/Management or Advanced Music Business Elective
    • Entrepreneurial track
      • The same core courses are required as the other two tracks in this discipline
      • Marketing, Business and leadership courses
      • Website Design and Management, Business Finance/Startups
      • Managing a technology driven business
      • Innovator’s DNA course
      • Entrepreneurial Practicum
  2. The Bachelor of Professional Studies in Music Business is completed online
    • BPS
      • Core courses in Music Theory, Ensemble, Private Instrument Instruction, Ear Training, Writing, Literature and other General Electives
      • Music Business 101
      • Music Marketing 101
      • Music Business Trends and Strategies
      • Concert Touring
      • Music Business Leadership and Ethics
      • Legal Aspects of the Music Industry
      • Creative Entrepreneurship
      • Music Business Finance
      • Music Licensing
      • Music Business Capstone
  3. Berklee also remains competitive by making multiple options available for obtaining a Master’s degree in this program: One is an MA in Global Entertainment and Music Business, which can be obtained by attending Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain. Another avenue for obtaining a Master’s has been created in partnership with Suffolk University. Additionally, Berklee has partnered with South New Hampshire University to create a Master’s in Music Business that is completed online; more on this in the next section
Tuition & Fees:

Online degree tuition is 64% less than campus tuition, however, it aint cheap. The overall cost for the BPS in Music Business completed on line is $59,160. The Bachelor’s in Music, completed on campus,was calculated using only tuition and fees per year and living off campus; cost to attend per year was an estimated $42,601. The MBA in Music Business completed through South New Hampshire University rates will be discussed in the next section.

The College of Saint Rose – Albany, New York

This college has made it a point to emphasize the inherent need for cross training in the music industry. Students will focus on three main areas (applied music studies, audio recording & music production, and music business & entrepreneurship) in order to gain hands on experience and classroom instruction in order to prepare them for challenges and scenarios they will likely face in the real world. The curriculum focuses on sound engineering, songwriting, A&R management and music law–two semesters of the program have been set up for students to work as producers and artist managers for real clients, possibly making this the most valuable aspect of the entire curriculum. Upon graduation, students will be granted a Bachelor of Science in Music-Music Industry, for more detailed information follow this link.  

Belmont University – Nashville, Tennessee

A long running institution that has produced some of the biggest names in country music (Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack) carries on the legacy by offering several options to major, minor and/or complete a graduate level degree in this field. Belmont has allowed for flexibility in the area a student wants to focus in their studies by creating two forks in the Bachelor of Business Administration in Music Business–The areas of emphasis are, Music Business, Music Production or Legal Studies. This university also offers a Master of Business Administration with an elective track specialization in Entertainment and Music Business

University of Colorado – Denver, Colorado

UC-Denver comes equipped with the skills to pass on to future students of their Bachelor of Science in Music Business, giving them the know-how to navigate the current state of the inner workings of the industry. Focusing on areas like A&R management, music law, audio production, and marketing, graduates will be equipped with enough knowledge to start their own labels, management companies, become tour managers, talent buyers and more. Quite possibly the most attractive part of this program, is the student run CAM Records.

New York University-Steinhardt – New York, NY

With a combination of hands on training, internship experiences and a well rounded education that makes it a point to focus on music as an art and a commercial product, NYU-Steinhardt covers all the bases. Their Bachelor of Music in Music Business is unique because of their internship partnerships with record labels, A&R management companies, performance venues and concert management business, where they report 40% of students receive job offers upon graduation solely because of the contacts they made as interns.

University of Miami – Miami, Florida

In their address to future applicants, their goal is to prepare students to become professionals in the music business and entertainment industry. They’ve proven this by revealing their alumni have gone on to work in/for/at music publishing, record companies, music licensing, artist management, live music production, concert management, and intellectual property/entertainment law. Like the UC-Denver, the University of Miami also has student run organizations, Cane Records and Cat 5 Music Publishing, where students gain real-world experience. More to the point, the UM Frost School of Music grants three degrees in the area of music business and entertainment: Bachelor of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries; Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries;  (Joint Degree) Juris Doctor and Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries

Augsburg College – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Bachelor of Arts in Music Business from Augsburg College, focuses on core elements like accounting, statistics, music business courses, arts managements and concert promotions, giving graduates a leg up, upon entering the workforce. Students are able to choose between two different tracks for this degree: Music Business Concentration, designed with an emphasis on music, or the Business Administration with Specialization in Music Business, which is geared for the business oriented student. Alumni of this program have reportedly gone on to work at record labels like Sony and Interscope, radio stations and  theatres, some of them related to the college’s internship placement program.

Elmhurst College – Elmhurst, Illinois

Those looking to attend Elmhurst College might be pleasantly surprised the Music Business degree they offer has been designed to be completed as either a Bachelor of Music degree or Bachelor of Science. The Bachelor of Music in Music Business, places a stronger emphasis on music, while delivering strong learning objectives in the area of business as it relates to music. While the  Bachelor of Science in Music Business does cover aspects of music theory and other courses of that nature, it leans more heavily on the industry side, with classes in marketing, management, advertising and, you guessed it, music business.

University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

The Trojans have created a dynamic, in-depth, Bachelor of Science in Music Business degree, designed with the intention to challenge students with the same obstacles they’ll face upon entry into the robust entertainment industry. What better place to study the music industry than USC, located in LA, where some of the largest record labels, bands and music scenes in the world came to fruition. The University of Southern California’s Music Business degree places an equal emphasis on the study of music itself as it does business. Here you’ll take courses like accounting, entrepreneurship, music law, publishing, marketing and promotion, along with audio engineering, music theory, private instrument lessons, music history and songwriting.

Southeastern University – Lakeland, Florida

A predominantly Christian school, Southeastern University, is located in sunny Florida, and offers oneBachelor of Science in Music Business. Southeastern offers a well rounded education, stressing the importance of musicianship and music as a business, as two equal entities. At this university future alumni will dig into topics of music theory, recording arts, piano and voice labs, marketing entrepreneurship, business law, management, advertising and more. Additionally, since this is a Christian university, governed and accredited by Christian organizations, all students attending here will be required to take theological coursework on Christianity as a requirement for graduation.

Minnesota State University – Mankato, Minnesota

At MSU-Mankato, you’ll be challenged with real world projects, coordinating with industry types from around the country and create projects with real clients. This university has designed the Bachelor of Science in Music Industry-Music Business degree with the intention of students gaining experience through quality training by way of coursework, lectures and internships. The usual areas of study can be found at MSU-Mankato, but acceptance into the program requires,’students to be musicians who are serious about their craft, possess a strong entrepreneurial spirit, some experience in the music industry like making flyers, running a music blog, etc.’

Central Washington University – Ellensburg, Washington

CWU takes a more down to earth approach when presenting their Music Business program, saying students will be prepared to enter the business side of music in areas like retail and wholesale music sales, arts management, arts promotion, recording operations and copyright and licensing works. Central’s Bachelor of Arts in Music Business makes sure to cover all the necessities of music business, such as: accounting, business statistics, music business, management and marketing, along with a healthy serving of music coursework. Nestled at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and soaking in 300 plus days of sunshine per year, while being located within a few hours drive of Seattle, Central Washington University makes for a great location to complete this degree.

McNally Smith College of Music – St Paul, Minnesota

Just when you thought, Minnesota couldn’t possibly pump out anymore, along comes McNally Smith College of Music. They offer Bachelor of Arts in Music Business and an Associate of Applied Science in Music Business, both covering topics in management, accounting, booking, marketing, promotions and social media strategy. One of the most eye catching aspects of this program in particular are the connections the school has to internship opportunities, leading blogs and music festivals. As a student of the Music Business programs at McNally Smith, you’re granted access to the Career Center, which assists in placing students in internships in other leading music cities, if they so choose. McNally Smith music business students are also granted opportunities to attend major conferences and festivals like SXSW (South By Southwest) and Pitchfork, where they gain insider access to up and coming artists.

University of Illinois – Chicago, Illinois

UI-Chicago, is part of the long standing University of Illinois education system, and delivers one Bachelor of Arts in Music Business.  Though it leans very heavy on the music theory, performance and composition side of things, it does cover the major components one would expect to find in competing degrees. These areas of study can be narrowed down to finance, accounting, marketing, management of information systems, entrepreneurship, negotiation and conflict resolution.  

Closing Thoughts

When deciding upon a school to complete a degree in Music Business, several factors should be considered. The first, does the program extensively cover business as it relates to music, or is it based more on the study of music. A few other things to consider are cost of tuition (resident and non-resident), the location of the school and the overall quality of the education you’ll be receiving. Finally, make sure the school offers some sort of internship option, or the possibility of assistance in job placement upon graduation.