You’ve always had this burning desire to pursue a career in music, but you have no idea where to begin. So you start searching online for the top music business school in your area or around the country that would suit your needs, but how do you know which program is right for you? This article aims to guide you through that process and give you the knowledge you need in order to help you make specific choices to further your career.
To begin, you need to ask yourself a few things: What path should I take, how much should I expect to spend, what location should I settle in, and what are the qualifications to look for while comparing music business programs? Each of these questions are necessary to reflect upon before ultimately deciding the perfect music business school for you.
Before researching and comparing schools online, you need first to learn what you want to get out of a music business school and how you want to apply those teachings to further your career. One topic you should focus on in particular is what area of the music industry you want to work in.
The industry is ripe with various job opportunities as an artist manager or with music publishers for example. Nonetheless, these jobs can range from video games to songwriting, and marketing to the medical field. This wide variety makes the task of condensing these available jobs down particularly difficult. Still, the choice will ultimately depend on where your passion lies and where you see yourself in the future of the music industry.
After narrowing down a few career paths of interest, you should then prepare a list of questions that you’ll likely need to run through with each potential school. These questions consist of:
- Which courses are required for graduation?
- What types of programs do they offer?
- What information do you need to apply?
- What prior knowledge is necessary to attend?
- Do they offer financial aid?
- Is housing available on or around the campus?
- What are the average class sizes?
The purpose of discovering your career path, and creating a list of questions is to help you narrow your focus to make way for your next area of focus, money.
After narrowing down the career path you want to take, you should start to figure out what your financial situation is going to look like. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What is the starting salary for someone in your field?
- What financial aid is available to help with the costs?
- Will you need to take out student loans?
- What is the job market like in the field you want to enter?
These questions are difficult to answer by yourself. However, they are paramount, and with the help of our recent blog posts and online articles, you should be able to gather the resources necessary to conduct your research. The next thing to consider is “where” you want to go to school.
While factoring in your desired tuition expenses, you should also be looking at the location you’re hoping to settle in. The cost of living can vary tremendously from city to city. The good news is that you have plenty of resources to help you here:
- See our recent companion blog for a few: How To Select The Right Audio Engineering School For You
- Cost of Living Calculator | NerdWallet – City and Salary Comparison Tool
- A great resource to compare various schools around the country: 60 Great Value Colleges for Music Majors (Undergraduate) 2017-2018 )
However, the cost isn’t the only thing that you should research regarding location. You should also look at a few key areas:
- The value of the connections you’ll make in the city — networking
- Real-world experiences that can be obtained there — part-time jobs & internships
- Is the music industry thriving in the area — your potential future
If you really want to narrow down the opportunities in the location you’ve researched, reach out to the Admission reps and ask their opinion on the matter. Ultimately, you want to be in a city with prevalent opportunities to secure internships, part-time jobs, networking connections, and an entry-level position to launch your career.
While contemplating cost and location, you should also consider another point, time. You might not have the luxury to go to school full time and go back home. For some, bills and financial obligations can become center stage. So, while researching costs, take into consideration how much you’ll need to work in order to live and pay for your studies. If you have any questions on the types of accommodations schools have for working students, call the admissions office, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
You’ve done the broad research, and now it’s time to focus on the schools that interest you. During your research, you should look heavily into the instructors associated with the programs you’re interested in. The best people to teach you about the industry are the ones with experience in it. Their accomplishments and their ability to help you after graduation will play a big role in developing your career long after graduation.
Take some time to look them up on LinkedIn, discover their completed projects, and the artists they’ve worked with across various social media platforms. It is crucial that you find out the credentials of the faculty that work there. You should look at three things while researching the instructors:
- What technology do they use in their courses?
- What experience do they have in their chosen profession?
- What’s their typical workload each week?
Researching these instructors will allow you to gauge the value you’ll gain from attending their classes. Most importantly, it will enable you to see the valuable references you’ll be able to use when seeking employment and as mentors, as you progress through your professional career.
How do you value the success of the instructors and the impact their connections have on the students that attend. You look at their alumni, which you can find on their alumni page, or featured throughout their various social media. Take DHI graduate Ryan Ploch, who helps run an incredible studio in Chicago and works to support future music makers.
So, take some time and check out what they’ve done, who they’ve worked with, and what genres they’ve explored. If possible, reach out to them and learn about the path they took to get to where they are at in their life. Ask yourself if this lines up with your career goals and aspirations. If it does, then go for it, which will ultimately lead to our next talking point.
Networking & Internships
The final two things you should look for in a music business school, and arguably the most important, are networking opportunities and available internships. The kinds of connections to various industry professionals, record labels, and organizations a particular school has will allow you to gain a leg up within the industry quickly, and push you ahead of the competition. Call the school’s advisors to discuss the career path you hope to take and see if any of their instructors know someone in the field that could help you with positions after graduation. Then, compare these connections to the organizations you aspire to work with to ensure you’ll have access to the right opportunities. While you’re researching this, keep in mind of four things:
- Is there a well-established internship program in place at your school?
- Does the school have valuable relationships with music business employers?
- Will you receive college credit or any form of compensation for your time?
- Will the skills you acquire add value to your resume?
Take The Final Step
Now you know the questions that need to be asked and the research that needs to be down. The only thing left to do is pick your destination. It’s a big decision, and earning a music degree is no easy task because it takes time and hard work, but it can be so rewarding. Hopefully, this information will give you a better idea of where to begin. The demand for this industry is incredible, so taking the necessary steps to ensure you’ll stand out from the crowd is exactly what Dark Horse Institute’s Music Business Program does. So get out there and begin your journey.