music business degree

7 Music Schools with Great Music Business Degree Options

Back in the day, if you wanted to work in the music industry, you didn’t need to get a music business degree at a four-year institution, you just had to…get started. That was the way with many industries, but as is the case with almost every field you may want to work in, a degree is now a necessity.

So, you know you want to work in the music industry, but where should you go to earn your music business degree? Which colleges and universities are the best? Which names will stand out the most on your resume, setting you up for a better future in the process?

Here’s a preview of some of the most exciting music business degree program options:

  1. Berklee College of Music
  2. Los Angeles College of Music
  3. New York University
  4. University of California, Los Angeles
  5. Full Sail University
  6. Belmont University
  7. Syracuse University

There are a number of highly reputable options I’ve listed above, and as we go on, I’ll touch on some of the reasons why they could be great for you. That said, you should know you don’t necessarily need a music business degree, just one focused in business, to work in the music industry. It is possible to work toward more general marketing or management degrees and then find yourself in your desired industry, so if you’re not one hundred percent positive the music industry is where you want to spend the rest of your career, perhaps you should think about exploring other options.

If you do know this is the world for you, I’d focus on the schools listed here, any one of which can give you a fantastic education and a music business degree you’ll find useful for many years to come.

1. Berklee College of Music

Location: Boston, MA

Throughout the years I’ve been writing about music, I’ve looked into the schools offering music business degrees a number of times, and it’s no shock Berklee always ends up on top as the option that, overall, deserves to be regarded as No. 1.

In addition to offering degrees in literally dozens of different styles of music, Berklee also caters to those who want to work in the industry, but who don’t aim to do so as actual musicians. The Bachelor of Music in Music Business/Management is the best bet for anyone who wants to be in the business, and there are plenty of minors you can add on, whether you’re studying proper music or not. Just a few extra classes can give you a minor in everything from Creative Entrepreneurship to Philosophy (which these days can mean anything).

There are a number of great institutions offering music business degrees but none can match the status of Berklee, which remains the most highly-regarded brand in this space.

2. Los Angeles College of Music

Location: Pasadena, CA

Located not far from Los Angeles, the simply-named Los Angeles College of Music is primarily focused on attracting those who want to make music, but there are enticing options for students who either want to work on the business side of things, or perhaps for those who need options that don’t include full-time semesters.

In addition to both Associates and Bachelors of Arts music business degrees, the establishment offers online college prep courses, which can be a wonderful way for prospective students to get a jumpstart on their education and get a leg up on the competition when it comes to applying to proper degree programs. As if this wasn’t enough, there are also summer classes offered to help those who are eager to learn more about how to become better musicians and navigate the industry effectively.

In the end, many music business degrees are close to the same and colleges can only be so different from one another, so sometimes the most interesting things a location can claim are the offerings no one else has.

3. New York University

Location: New York City, NY

New York University is one of the best-known universities in the world, hands down. The Tisch School for the Arts is also one of the most highly-regarded arts schools in the world. Clive Davis is an industry legend, and perhaps the greatest who has ever lived. So, when you put all three institutions together, the results are, obviously, going to be unparalleled…and that’s what you get with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

New York City is one of the most important cities in the world when it comes to the music industry, and no school dives as deep into the business side of things as the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. With course names like Creative Music Entrepreneurs In Historical Context, The Business Of Music: Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and The Business Of Music: Industry Essentials (perhaps the most important of them all), it’s easy to see no school will come even close to giving you this breadth of knowledge into the music biz.

Many of the schools featured on this list would look great on your resume when it comes to applying to jobs, but if you can add not only New York University, but also Clive Davis…that might be the one special thing setting you apart from so many other eager applicants.

There are a number of great institutions offering music business degrees but none can match the status of Berklee, which remains the most highly-regarded brand in this space.

4. University of California, Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Again, Los Angeles pops up on this list…only this time, the school being mentioned is actually centrally located in LA, which is a huge benefit to anyone who isn’t planning on waiting until they are done with college to begin their music career (which is a good idea).

UCLA is home to the prestigious Herb Alpert School of Music, another program branded with the name of one of the most successful music industry titans of all time. Alpert is a true legend, and while some young people might not be aware of his immense popularity or the role he has played in shaping what music sounds like today, those hiring you for a job after you’re done studying certainly should.

Thankfully, the Herb Alpert School of Music doesn’t have to rely solely on his good name, as the college is top-notch. Many of its courses of study focus on creating music, but there are also music business degrees that can be earned, and this healthy mix perfectly reflects Alpert’s own life and career, as he was well-known as both a musician and an executive.

The general Music Industry degree is probably the best fit for most people reading this, but if you have a chance, take at least one or two jazz classes (of which there are many), as learning about the genre at Herb Alpert’s school is a must.

5. Full Sail University

Location: Winter Park, FL

Unlike many of the educational options included here, Full Sail doesn’t cater exclusively to those who want to work in music. The school has programs to help students get into the worlds of video game design, film and television, sports, and even general technology, but it has excelled at turning out plenty of young talents in the music industry over the past several years. In a relatively short period of time, Full Sail has become a serious player in this space.

For those looking to earn a more general degree they can use to get many different kinds of jobs after school, there are undergraduate degrees like Entertainment Business and Digital Marketing, which can easily apply to music, but which don’t limit anyone to just that field. If you’re sure you want to stick to music and music only, you can go for the Music Business degree.

If you want to better understand the creative side of things, Full Sail also offers programs like bachelor’s degrees in Recording Arts, Music Production, and Audio Production.

Perhaps the main thing detracting from Full Sail’s attractiveness is its location. The brick-and-mortar school is in Winter Park, Florida, which is sadly not anywhere near most music industry hubs, like Los Angeles, New York City, or even Nashville. This might explain why Full Sail has more people studying remotely via its online programs than at its physical campus. If you’re okay with not actually going to a classroom, instead getting your education at home, this might be a fit for you…though there is something to be said about actually going to a college and spending time with other students in-person.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.

Thankfully, the Herb Alpert School of Music doesn’t have to rely solely on his good name, as the college is top-notch. Many of its courses of study focus on creating music, but there are also music business degrees that can be earned, and this healthy mix perfectly reflects Alpert’s own life and career, as he was well-known as both a musician and an executive.

6. Belmont University

Location: Nashville, TN

Many who want to go into the music industry head to either Los Angeles or New York City (as you can tell by where a number of the other schools on this list are based), but as the capital of country music, Nashville absolutely deserves to be a destination for earning a music business degree.

Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business is a wonderful alternative to moving to one of the coastal cities. It caters to a unique mix of creative and business-minded students, though undergraduate programs are more focused on the industry than on getting up-and-comers into the studio.

Those who are accepted can choose between majors like Entertainment Industry Studies, Music Business, and Media Studies, which gives a taste of the journalistic side of things.

The staff at Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business has the connections and the resources to help churn out the next great executives in the industry. There’s no reason that shouldn’t be you!

7. Syracuse University

Location: Syracuse, NY

Like both the schools named after Herb Alpert and Clive Davis, Syracuse University has its own program with a famous industry moniker where you can get a great music business degree: the Bandier Program for Music and Entertainment Industries, which is named after the formidable Martin Bandier, the CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

While he might not be known for signing major acts or winning Grammys on his own like the two figures I’ve included above, he is one of the smartest people in the music industry, and going to a school infused with his business savvy is a fantastic way to get a start on your own.

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