Music Business Degree & Career Guide

Find the information you need to get a music business degree and start your career.

musician with music business degree

If you have a passion for music and a talent for business or management, a business college degree in music can open the doors to an exciting (if competitive) career in the music industry. The range of jobs available to those who hold a music business degree covers a broad cross-section of the industry, from managers who work directly with artists, to publicists who promote the touring of a musical act.

Categories of Music Business Careers

Music business jobs primarily fall into a few general categories:

  • Music management careers include everyone from the musician's personal manager or agent to entertainment attorneys to retail sales managers.
  • Record label business careers cover the various jobs you might seek out at a record company, such as A&R (artist & repertoire) coordinators and marketing representatives.
  • Music publishing business careers include acquiring and administering song copyrights.
  • Tour/road work careers involve coordinating, publicizing and overseeing the technical side of a touring musical act.

Jobs for those with a music business degree tend to be most plentiful in areas of the country where the entertainment and recording industries are centered, such as New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and Nashville.

What Jobs are Available?

The music industry is a highly desirable occupational path, with high numbers of job seekers relative to the number of openings available. Those with a pertinent degree from an accredited music business school have a leg up on the competition—as well as those with relevant work or internship experience in the industry.

Different jobs in the industry also have different demands in terms of skills and temperament. Some jobs, particularly those in the touring and road work sector, require a great deal of energy in order to keep up with the irregular hours and extended time on the road dictated by a musician's performance schedule. Marketing, sales and public relations careers in the music industry may also require a fair amount of travel, not to mention excellent interpersonal skills. Road managers need physical stamina in order to handle musical equipment.

Getting Into the Groove

Music is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the good news is, you don't necessarily need to be a musician to enjoy a fulfilling career working in the business. The multitude of job possibilities does mean that there isn't any one sure-fire path to success in the music business, but there are a few general characteristics that are valuable to cultivate if you're planning to make a living in the field.

Be Persistent, but Flexible – Remember that it takes a lot of drive to make it in an industry where there is so much competition for jobs. Do your best to excel in your chosen area and familiarize yourself with the appropriate technology and business models. Be versatile and willing to take on a variety of responsibilities early on in your career. Internship programs are also a great way to gain experience in the music industry. As you build your resumé, you'll become more marketable to potential employers.

Network, Network, Network – The ability to network will not only serve you well as you search for work in the competitive music business marketplace, it is also a critical job skill. The entertainment industry is as much about who you know as what you know, so taking advantage of internships at record companies or volunteer opportunities at concert venues can help connect you with employers in the music business. If you're a publicist or promoter, your career might hinge on those connections.

Knowledge and Passion – Even if you can't hold a tune or play a single note, a sincere passion for music and the knowledge to back it up is a prerequisite in the industry. In particular, expertise in the music genre you plan to work in, can lend you the kind of credibility that gives you an edge over the competition. A college degree in music provides the practical background that will enable you to put your love of music to work in the business world.