Thousands of artists vie for the slim shot of making it in La La Land. Luckily, music-focused programs exist to guide young adults by combining education and experience. Students of music institutes gain hands-on training that others without an education in music business scramble for. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and at the right school, artists bump shoulders with already-established music professionals and make headway into one of the many career possibilities out there. With a music business degree under your belt (not to mention your music department’s support), success in the music biz is within your reach.
Pro tip: Network with thousands music business industry leaders at The 2020 NAMM Show this January 16-19 in Anaheim!
Check out 10 incredible music business programs in California that will open doors to coveted careers in the music industry.
10. Diablo Valley College
We are family, so get up everybody and sing for California’s finest community college for music. DVC may highly emphasize entrepreneurship, but the faculty certainly cares for its students beyond the four walls of college. “Our plethora of experts not only teach our students but mentor them before and after they graduate. We have dedicated counselors in both workforce and academia that assist our students on whatever paths they choose,” said DVC Music Department Co-Chairman Nicholas Vasallo. “We also have employment opportunities exclusively for our students. We ensure our students have the best chance for employment and receive industry certifications as part of the curriculum.” A certification means less gen-eds and more immediate practice in your desired field. DVC hosts an accomplished Music Technology Center (MTC) and the best Digital Audio Workstations (DAW). Unsurprisingly, electronic music hails as the style of choice.
P.S. This Saturday, aspiring songwriters can have their original music heard by industry professionals, get personalized feedback and be entered to win a trip to Santorini, Greece!
9. Los Angeles College of Music
Who runs the world? Apparently, LACM. With a concentration on global music business, LACM teaches artists about all aspects of music, from Afro-Caribbean rhythms to medieval era masterpieces. Some highlights of courses available at LACM include History of World Music, History of Funk, Hip Hop and Modern R&B Music or History of American Roots and Blues. Besides what you learn in the classroom, LACM supports a student-alumni record label called Three-Seventy Group. “LACM Career Services also offers complimentary resume coaching, an industry job board and booking services, private career counseling sessions, weekly acoustic recording sessions, and regular masterclasses and panel events from outside industry members (Disney, Billboard, Universal and more),” said Director of Admissions Emilio Rodriguez. With the diversity of knowledge, history and services available at LACM, your contributions formulate a global footprint on the music industry.
8. San Diego State University
San Diego State University students learn a wide variety of subjects to master both the practical and technical sides of the biz. “The degree is designed to be flexible, while developing well cultivated skill-sets in music and business. Students must take Music Theory, Ear Training, Music History and Ensembles as well as Accounting, Finance, Economics and Management classes. However, there are 15 units of electives and 6 units of internships which can be tailored to each students’ area of interest,” said SDSU Music Entrepreneurship Program Advisor Eric Starr. This all-encompassing arrangement sounds like Shark Tank meets America’s Got Talent. SDSU’s initial general music degree sprouted into four different degree options: BA, BM, MA and MM. The School of Music places considerable importance on high-quality education and experience. “Internships are available at prestigious organizations such as the San Diego Symphony, La Jolla Music Society and NAMM, as well as recording studios, record labels and arts education organizations. Each student will develop a professional skill-set and network before graduating.” This even includes the private weekly lessons granted to students in their applied area.
7. University of the Pacific
Can you say Camp Rock? Breaking into the music industry becomes easier at this private university. University of the Pacific’s music business camp for high school students prepares kids for the big leagues. Once you start your college education, UoP’s B.S. in Music Industry Studies delivers the cutting-edge education you need to succeed in the real world. “Our Advisory Board, composed of a broad set of industry leaders, company founders and entrepreneurs, provides advice on curriculum, internship and job placement. They also engage in valuable one on one meetings at the annual Mentoring Brunch held each spring on campus,” said UoP’s Conservatory of Music Director of Admissions Jessica Siena. Get a taste of the professional life with Pac Ave Records, the on-campus, student-led music company. Students also have the opportunity to study Music Management. Students in this program can take elective courses like Concert Production, Record Company Operations and Arts Administration. Plus, UoP truly understands the monetary struggles of chasing a career in this industry. Just look at the Breakthrough Internship Fund. Created for Music Management and Music Industry students pursuing an academic internship, the Fund helps with short-term housing, meals and local transportation.
6. University of California, Los Angeles
Ever heard of the study of people making music? University of California, Los Angeles places strong emphasis on Musicology, Music Performance and Ethnomusicology programs at their integrative music school named after Herb Alpert. Musicology concentrates on researching music, its history and interpretation. Ethnomusicology, a branch of Musicology, centralizes on the culture, social and behavioral facets of making music. Focusing so intently on producing music, we forget who actually produces the music. Us! Students also have the option of pursuing a Music Industry minor to accompany their impressive degrees. Through UCLA’s extension program, aspiring music execs, songwriters and the like can earn a Music Business certificate. To accommodate all the hustlers out there, these courses are taught mostly in the evening, so you don’t have to quit your day job until you’re good and ready. “Students get a ‘no compromises’ education at one of the top-ranked academic institutions in the world. Our music and law course is taught by a lawyer, our production course by a producer, our music supervision course by a documentary filmmaker, our songwriting course by a working songwriter,” said UCLA Professor Robert Fink. We are the instruments of the world. “The instructors I referenced above often act as ‘scouts’ for exceptional students. Kids do get job offers or representation based on stuff that happens in class.” Herb Alpert faculty sprinkle their personal wisdom amongst freshly budding artists. Once they grow, they turn into professionals of their own and continue the teaching cycle.
Adding to their list of brag-worthy accomplishments, three UCLA a capella groups will be performing at The 2020 NAMM Show. Resonance, ScatterTones and Random Voices won over the judges and will win you over too.
5. Musician’s Institute
Alexa, play today’s top hits. Hollywood’s College of Contemporary Music, Musician’s Institute, keeps up with the times, musically and digitally. It’s the only campus offering Record Maestro software training. Hundreds of companies use this software, including Warner Bros. Entertainment, Epitaph and Nettwerk Productions. Record Maestro takes care of all of your recording needs and automatically manages business configurations. MI assists students with a number of social networking platforms, job postings, gig listings, MI Collaborations, Marketplace and Electronic Press Kit (EPK). An EPK exists as a resume website, marketing talent to promoters or supervisors. A rarity among these established programs, The Institute lets students earn a music degree completely online—no need to leave the comfort of home. Even so, MI’s campus accommodates a Concert Hall, Music Library, computer labs and around-the-clock recording studios. More than half of MI’s Music Business program focuses on the financing, law and entrepreneurial side of the business. If you want to dive into the practical and defined path of Music Business, MI’s a good fit for you. Joining means hitting the same strings as alumni Rafael Moreira and John Frusciante. Moreira played lead guitarist for a great deal of recognizable artists, from Christina Aguilera to Backstreet Boys, while Frusciante rocked it out with the Red Hot Chili Peppers beginning in the ‘80s. P.S. Musician’s Institute also offers Summer Shot camp for children ages 12 and up. Serious inquiries only. Kids receive a certificate of completion for being an honorary music student at a prestigious institute. Humble brag.
4. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
The term “Polytechnic” may throw off any implication that Cal Poly Pomona has a highly rated Music program, but guess what? Engineers love music, too. CPP engineering’s learn-by-doing methodology rubbed off on the Music program. In the University’s news today, one of their acclaimed professors became nominated for three Grammy awards in Best Classical Compendium, Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Classical Producer of the Year. Shout out to Nadia Schpachenko for her classical contributions. She teaches Piano Studies and Piano Ensemble, hoping to bring light to the next powerful pieces. CPP’s way of innovating the future of music means introducing students to new amenities. Masterclasses, festivals, workshops, ensembles, showcases and internships all reflect how active participation matters to CPP. Polytechnic institutes have their technological perks, of course. Hello, state-of-the-art recording and technology labs. Fly straight out of school and right into the studio. A partnership with AVID Technology assures students a certification in Pro Tools and Sibelius software. Off the keyboard and onto the music sheet. Use Sibelius’ music notation software to score the next Star Wars composition.
3. California State University, Chico
CSUC not only stands for California State University, Chico, but for a collaborative, sensible, unique community. During your time here, partake in organizations or student groups such as Songwriters Guild, Audio Engineering Society or National Association for Music Education. At the hands of students, Chico’s record label SOTA Productions aims to teach the ins-and-outs of producing events and live shows. “We’re moving in a direction of artist development over a year-long campaign in which the recording arts studios—and the students—are really excited about the idea that they are developing an artist and working with an artist on their careers going forward,” said CSUC Music Industry Assistant Professor Paul Young. Chico’s Music Program cultivates some of the most authentic, diverse and personable artists. “This town has a really wonderful, independent scene with about 3 to 6 venues going every given night with independent artists—and the community actually shows up and follows their bands. The music has its own heart and soul that’s really conducive of the experiential learning process of trying to push an artist uphill. This is really where you break the band, where you get your followers, your social media and data analytics. You learn from your marketing, your practical terms, what works and what didn’t. Artists want to connect with the community.” Expect to see students celebrating their creative community through Chico Performances held in Laxson auditorium. Chico’s acclaimed graduates have gone on to tour the world, find talent and produce (better known as A&R for recording labels) and perform.
2. California State University, Northridge
CSUN launches aspiring disciples of music right out of college and into the industry. “Our intense concentration on classroom education and musicianship would mean precious little without the dimension of helping young folks establish a career on the music industry. Thus, we place considerable emphasis on experiential learning and networking,” said Jeffrey Izzo, CSUN Assistant Professor and Mike Curb Endowed Chair of Music Industry Studies. Students get hands-on learning experience in the music business at Five of Five Entertainment, a student-run record label. Divided between production, management, marketing and business, students locate artists, record music and showcase at live events. This two-semester class doesn’t even touch the surface of opportunity CSUN provides. “We have a stellar reputation in LA, evidenced by the myriad companies that each semester turn to us for more interns, and/or end up hiring them for permanent positions,” Izzo said. Plus, you’ll hear industry tips straight from the horse’s mouth—even before you jump into the working world. “We have some of the top CEOs, VPs and Directors and music creators and artists in the industry come in to talk to our students regularly because most of them are local and pass through L.A.,” said Associate Professor Andrew Surmani. “I literally can’t keep up with all the guest speakers that come in to all our classes and for our panels.” At CSUN, you’ll have no problem leaping into a career.
CSUN’s premiere a capella group Acasola will perform at The 2020 NAMM Show this Saturday after being named first runner up in the ICCA Quarterfinal 2019.
1. University of Southern California
Work hard, play hard mentality exudes from USC’s lively campus. The same goes for Thornton School of Music. Potential students must thrive academically and audition rigorously. Reviewers not only go over your general application to USC but also your prescreening auditions, SlideRoom portfolios, live auditions and undergraduate theory exams. SlideRoom portfolios consist of recordings, resume, repertoire, statement of purpose or optional letters of recommendation. If you ever see an optional course of action, supply it. This school of music wants to know you’re up for the challenge, evident in their required 60-minute exam taken on the day of your live audition. Reviewers test applicants’ competence in listening skills and basic theory. Making it at Thornton School of Music means preparation—lots of preparation.
In the heart of Los Angeles, USC offers the best resources and pushes the boundaries of its curriculum. USC pioneered undergraduate programs in Music Industry alongside other disciplines such as film scoring and new-age jazz. The first of its kind, Thornton began offering a Master of Science in Music Industry and Commercial Composition. Many Thornton teachers double as Los Angeles Philharmonic players—the best-paid orchestra in the country—such as percussionist James Babor and violinist/concertmaster Glenn Dicterow. The Music Industry program harbors expert instructors from around the music block, including Trudy Green who created her own management company and managed artists like Michael Jackson. Can you blame them for being so picky? Thornton’s constantly evolving nature keeps the school on the map. New technology, new infrastructures and new degrees. Modern-day problems require modern-day solutions. Don’t let USC’s prestigious reputation scare you off from a real shot at innovating the music world. Fight on, Trojans.
Prepare for your future in music business at The 2020 NAMM Show. You’ll be surrounded by thousands of global music industry leaders. Registration for the NAMM GenNext college music program is just $50! Register badge today!
This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.