Music Business Degree Programs

Read about the different kinds of music business degree programs that are available.

businessman and guitar

The music industry is an exciting environment to work in, but it's also one of the most competitive job markets out there, with far more job seekers than available openings—despite continuing growth. Having a solid educational background in music business or management can give applicants an edge in the search for work.

But with the myriad of possible career options, how do you start looking for music business degree programs and certificates suited to your area of interest? Which schools for music business offer training specific to the industry, and which schools offer more general programs?

Choosing a School

Prospective students should take a good look at a music business degree program's core curriculum to ensure that it fits with their career goals. Some schools are primarily business-oriented, requiring many general business courses and less of a particular focus on music, while others are tailored specifically to the music business and may even require some coursework in music production or performance. If your goal is to work in a specific area such as marketing or public relations, it is worth checking whether the school for music business you are considering has a concentration in that area.

Another consideration when choosing music business degree programs is whether a school has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Although NASM accreditation is not the defining factor for a school for music business's integrity, an institution that is part of the NASM adheres to independently established national standards for high-quality undergraduate and graduate education.

Options for Music Business Degree Programs

  • Associate's Degree – A 2-year music business degree is usually an Associate of Arts or an Associate of Applied Sciences degree. It includes entry-level and survey courses in music business and production, as well as fundamentals of management and various other aspects of the industry, such as promotion and publishing.
  • Bachelor's Degree – A 4-year degree from a school for music business may be a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Music, the latter more commonly offered by schools for music. Business courses specifically tailored to the music industry are offered as part of the curriculum for a bachelor's degree in music business, along with general education requirements and specialized classes on various non-business aspects of the industry. Elective courses in applied marketing, the licensing aspects of music publishing, and other focused areas of the music business are commonly offered, as well as internships or practicums in the recording industry.
  • Master's Degree – If you're looking for a masters in music business, you have the option of pursuing a Master of Music, a Master of Arts, a Master of Science or a Master of Business Administration, depending on the nature of the program. A graduate degree usually requires a prerequisite of a 4-year degree in music business or a related subject. The curriculum consists of further coursework in music, business, and the music industry, including highly specialized classes in areas such as ethics and marketing strategy. It is also common to see graduate programs that focus more generally on business administration or arts management.
  • Certificate Programs – Some music business certificate programs are offered as specialty add-ons to an undergraduate degree in business or music, requiring previous enrollment at a school and a certain number of credits already completed. However, many schools for music business, community colleges and business schools offer stand-alone certificate programs in the field of music business. These programs generally range from three to ten courses in length, with individual classes on various topics in the industry such as management, touring, promotion and publishing.