by Anthony Schultz
The variety of audio engineering and music production programs have dramatically increased over the past 10 years. That’s because educational institutions around the world have seen the value and demand in these programs, especially as the music industry environment has changed through technology.
In many cases, being a great instrumentalist can only take you so far. Historically, the power has been in the hands of record labels, lawyers, managers, and promoters – these people held tight control over many critical aspects of the careers of the people who created the music.
Once music schools started adding audio recording & music production degrees, it did not take long to realize the added value of adding courses to understand the “music business” itself. Eventually, music business degrees became available focusing on the critical elements that give a career in music more stability.
These programs are shifting more control into the hands of the artists, songwriters, engineers and producers themselves. It has also allowed for creative non-musicians to get involved.
For people considering careers in music outside of the performance world, this article is for you. I’ve put together a short list of schools that offer a variety of degrees in audio recording, music production, and music business. I hope this article gives you a better understanding of the potential options to choose from when considering a 4-year music degree program.
Click on the titles of each school to find out more about their sound production, music engineering, and music business programs.
The Music Industry Program at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in Recording Arts and Music Production or Music Business.
According to Toby Seay, Department Head – Arts & Entertainment Enterprise and Associate Professor – Music Industry, this program is intensive but very valuable for those considering non-performance degrees in music.
“There are about 300 students in the program with about 75 applicants accepted per year. Students take a robust 6-month Co-op during the summer after sophomore and junior years. The school has also set up a number of hands-on opportunities.”
The co-op opportunities are for the following companies and entities:
- MAD Dragon Records
- MAD Dragon Media
- MAD Dragon Publishing
- MAD Dragon Artist Management
The Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University offers a Bachelor of Science degree with majors in Audio Production or Recording Industry, with a concentration in either Commercial Songwriting or Music Business. The Department of Recording Industry also offers a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Recording Arts and Technologies.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Business, Music Performance, Sound Recording Technology and Music Studies.
The university also offers Master of Music degrees in Sound Recording Technology and Music Education (either Teaching Certification or Thesis/Project or Community Music).
Within the College of Arts & Sciences at Elon University, students can receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Production & Recording Arts.
Fred Johnson, a lecturer of music production and recording arts, says this about the university’s programs:
“The focus is on making 21st century musicians well-rounded. They are required to play an instrument, take private lessons, and play in ensembles. Several levels of music theory are also required – depending on major – as well as a piano proficiency.”
Two internships are required for their four-year degree programs, including options to study abroad and in Los Angeles.
The school offering the biggest variety of majors related to music is Berklee College of Music.
In addition to their Bachelor of Music degree in Music Production & Engineering, Berklee offers these degrees with concentrations in Composition, Contemporary Writing and Production, Electronic Production and Design, Film Scoring, Jazz Composition, Music Business/Management, Music Education, Music Therapy, Performance, Performance Music and Songwriting. Minors in Audio Post-Production, Commercial Record Production and Recording and Production for Musicians are also offered.
Berklee also has a campus location in Valencia, Spain offering a Master of Music degree in Contemporary Performance with a Production Concentration, Global Entertainment and Music Business, Music Production, Technology and Innovation and Scoring for Film, Television and Video Games.
Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU – within the Tisch School of the Arts – is the first and only program of its kind to provide professional business and artistic training towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Recorded Music.
The first year focuses on building the fundamentals for a solid understanding of the connection between academics and professional success. The second year acts as an introduction to the art and business of creating and selling recorded music, while in the third year students dive into the depths of performance, composition, and the music industry. Students’ efforts in the fourth year will culminate in a capstone project that creates the engine for future success through a sort of “attack plan” for entering into the music industry in whichever path they choose.
For a detailed course description, click here.
The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami was the first American university to offer a 4-year degree in Music Engineering. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Music Engineering Technology.
Students learn about the art and science of recording while pursuing traditional musical studies and receive a minor in electrical or computer engineering. They also offer a 2-year Master of Science degree in Music Engineering Technology.
Special thanks to Toby Seay and Fred Johnson for their time in discussing their programs.
Anthony Schultz has been the owner/operator of Big T Productions for 30 years and an audio educator for over 20 years. He is currently an instructor of Music Production for Berklee Online, and serves as the Chair of Regions & Sections for the Audio Engineering Society (AES), overseeing all Student and Pro AES Sections Worldwide. Additionally, Schultz has many creative and commercial recording credits to his name, and is a top musician in his own right.