At my freshman orientation 14 years ago, I learned it was possible to major in music business. I applied to the school undecided because, as I thought, who at 18 knows what they want to do when they grow up? Browsing through the college catalog, I paused at business administration knowing that out of all the majors available to me this was most likely the route I was going to take. I didn't want to teach, I didn't have the aptitude for science, and music performance was beyond my skill level, but as my dad worked in the corporate world since I was young, I knew it was going to be my path too. I kept flipping though, knowing there had to be something there for me and boom - there it was! Music. Business.
Traditional Business Education
I took the traditional route to education, attending a four-year college, taking classes online through my community college, and then attending a graduate program. If a traditional education is more your style, as it was mine, there are abundant options available from business degrees at the certificate, associates, bachelors, and masters levels from nearly every college in the United States. Music business programs are increasing in number, from top tier schools NYU and Drexel University, to state universities California State University, Northridge, the University of Southern California, and Miami University, to liberal arts schools including Lebanon Valley College and Belmont University.
Each program at each school is different. Some will focus more on music management, while others give you more of an overview of the industry, choosing to focus the degree more on business courses. My undergraduate degree focused heavily on business and music, offering only a few music industry courses, while my graduate degree was similar to an MBA program, except all courses were either taught by a professional in the music industry or held a music industry focus to the work.
If you're taking the traditional route to a music industry education, think about where you want to end up in the industry before choosing a program. Review the courses required to complete the degree to see if the learning path matches with your industry end game, and make your decision from there.
Non-Traditional Business Education
I was fortunate to have access to not only an undergraduate education but a graduate education in the music industry. I know that higher education isn't available to some people for a number of varying reasons whether it be financial or a lack of interest in continuing in the education system for another three to four years. Or maybe at the time, you were interested in a science program, majored strictly in music performance, or another liberal arts degree and now you want to transition to the business side of the music industry.
Whatever the reason, know that there are resources available. The Internet and mobile devices opened an incredible opportunity for an affordable, or even free, business education through podcasts, blogs, and business platforms. There are abundant resources available online, beyond the traditional classroom, and these are just a few that motivate and educate me post-college in business, marketing, relationships, networking, and even self-care.
To be honest, I've listened to less music in the last year and hundreds of hours of podcasts. Topics that I listen to range from entrepreneurship to marketing, meditation, and life, and I can honestly say I've am more inspired from listening to these podcasts than I ever was in my formal education. Podcasters interview people who have been in your shoes, and who are now running successful businesses. They give their top tips for everything from building your own podcast, to changing your mindset, their favorite tools to organize their business, and so much more.
Whether you have a long commute, you travel a lot, or you listen while you do house work, podcasts are one of the easiest, most convenient, and cost effective tools to educate yourself on literally any topic imaginable.
Here are a few podcasts that I found incredibly helpful and inspiring for my own business:
Find the right blog and you've hit business education gold. Plenty blogs out there will require you to sign up for the newsletter or become a member of their group to obtain access to more detailed posts and information, and if you have the funds to do so, I would recommend it (but thoroughly investigate the program prior to handing over your credit card number). But you don't always have to pay to obtain access, as many will post great, free articles that give you an excellent background and often, detailed information.
Here are a few that I recommend looking into:
LinkedIn Learning / Lynda.com
I heard about Lynda.com a while ago, but it wasn't until my company signed me up for management courses through the website that I full delved into all it had to offer. I signed up for my own account (so I'm not taking personal courses on the company's dime) and found a wealth of learning paths and courses that I want to explore in business, marketing, music business, and personal development.
A monthly subscription to LinkedIn Learning runs at $29.99, but you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. There are a ton of courses, so to maximize the free trial I would suggest signing up for it when you know you'll have some free time to watch. Bonus: once you complete courses, your newly acquired skills will be added to your LinkedIn profile.
What Route Will You Take?
Everyone is different. Everyone learns differently. While traditional education works for some, hands-on learning through internships, entry level jobs, and learning from mistakes work for others.
My education path may have started out traditional, but as the Internet becomes more prevalent in our lives, even so much as sitting on our pocket, I find myself straying away from formal education to learn from new forms of media. I'm a member of the Her Way Society, taking online courses through LinkedIn Learning, and listening to entrepreneurship podcasts nearly every day.
How will you compete your education?