Are Free Online Music Business Courses Worth It?


Things Things to Consider

If you’re interested in working in the music industry in any capacity but unsure how to make that happen, the first thing that pops into many minds is some sort of education. There is no doubt that education can give you the skillset you need to be successful in any industry, but the real question is which ones are worth it

We all know that nowadays, education can vary greatly in price and almost every educational route demands a financial responsibility in some way, except one, Free online courses. Throughout this blog, we will take a look at whether or not free online music business courses are worth it. 

When you really get down to it, there are not many free programs on the internet. A marketing professor once told me, “if something is free, you are the product” and this is very true. Many free online courses are built around advertisements in some way, shape or form. They may appear in the browser itself or directly in the learning material itself. 

Today, it’s almost impossible to truly give something away for free when you factor in website hosting services and other behind the scene fees for the provider. It’s important to recognize that in this digital age there’s an abundance of information out there. 

With an overload of information comes the possibility of miss information. Knowing where your information is coming from is extremely important, you don’t want to spend ample time being misinformed. Although the thought of free information is enticing, it’s extremely difficult to validate whether the information is correct if you’re in a position of a student. 

Many people today are hopeful that free online training in any industry will give them the resume boost they need to have the competitive edge in the modern workforce. Online course websites often fall in controversy with pirated content and although the $10 course in something like cybersecurity or SEO marketing may seem like a steal in comparison to a $45,000 degree from a university, the end result may not be what you want. 

There’s no doubt that participating in a free or inexpensive course will benefit you in some way, however, becoming a master of a specific skillset usually requires years of educational training and practice. 

Finding The Right Course 

After searching the internet for “Free Online Music Business Courses” I’m unpleased to tell you, there’s not much out there. You may find the average blog post covering a specific topic in the music business but there’s not much out there for free that will teach you what you need to be successful. 

Though more and more Ivy League schools are offering free massive open online courses (MOOCs) in subjects like physics, mathematics and sciences, it’s important to note these traditional classes will not be the most helpful in fields like the music business. 

Where to take an inexpensive online course

There are a number of sites that allow you to take courses with a specific focus. Some of these courses are: 

Coursera: Music Business Specialization 

Coursera: Management of Successful Arts and Cultural Organizations

LinkedInLearning: Digital Release and Promotion Strategies for Musicians

LinkedInLearning: Copyrighting a Song 

Though these courses do offer knowledge and information on the music business they are not free and will cost a fee or monthly subscription. I would advise you to invest in yourself when it comes to education. Paying a small fee for the information you need will positively impact you numerous times over if implemented correctly. 

Outcomes of studying skills online: 

Coursera surveyed 52,000 of its users and asked if their courses benefitted them. The majority said the course helped them develop a new skill for their current position while 40% saw improvement in their candidacy for a new job. Of those candidates, 25% say they found a new job and less than 5% saw a raise. 

As you can see just because you take a course online, it doesn’t translate to a job or a raise. It takes time and energy on the student’s part to put the skills learned into motion. 

Self-paced courses are appealing for many reasons. You’re able to complete it on your own timeline and continuously review material until you understand it with no test date bearing down on you. For those that have “day jobs” many find this path the easiest to fit in with their current lifestyle.

However, you have to hold yourself accountable. As someone who has struggled at instructor-led online classes, it’s easy to fall behind or simply not complete the work because you simply “don’t feel like working on it today”. 

As opposed to a structured class, online self-paced programs have a lower completion rate. The average completion rate of an online course through a 4-year university is shockingly low at only 13%. The main reason for this is discipline and motivation. 

It’s difficult to learn something just based on following a guide. In-person, instructor-led courses are much more engaging and will allow you to ask questions as you progress through the course. 

My Recommendation 

As someone who has not only researched free online resources but also studied at a trade school for music production and a four-year university, these are just my thoughts. If I was going to start my career in the music business over again, I would start by researching free online resources in regards to what I’m interested in. 

The first place I would turn to is Youtube. The amount of quality free information available on this platform makes it a goldmine for someone curious about any subject. Find a channel that speaks on topics you’re interested in pursuing, take notes and study what you learn. 

If you want to get started in promotions, find a channel that not only explains what it is but gives you real-life examples of what promoters do and who relies on them. I personally feel that YouTube is the single most valuable resource many do not take advantage of. Most content creators will actively answer questions their viewers have. This is where you should start. 

Once you’ve gotten a feel for the business or chose a field of interest, it’s time to decide if this is the avenue you’d like to take in life. This is a huge decision that will ultimately change the trajectory of your life. 

Although it’s never too late to do something you love, the sooner you start the sooner you get to where you want to be. If you decide you want to study music business I would start with looking for trade programs around the country.  

Secondary trade schools focus on what really matters. Schools like Dark Horse Institute provide you with the industry knowledge to get you started in the music industry and jump-start your career. From there it’s time to hit the workforce. If you decide to study at a four-year university that’s fine too, just know the first two years will be focused on general education courses that may not match with your ultimate end goal. 

With all this being said, learning something new, whether it be from YouTube, an online course, a trade school or a four-year university, is what’s most important. If you’re taking the time to make yourself more desirable as an employee you’re taking the right steps in my eyes. Remember why you decided to go into this business and tackle it head-on. 

Tie It All Together

If you are interested in a career in the Music Industry, Dark Horse Institute’s Composition and SongwritingAudio Engineering, or Music Business Programs are a great way to take things to the next level!

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