Two-year associate's degrees in music can take several tracks. In a music performance program, as part of the admissions process, most programs require students to complete an audition in their preferred performance area, a keyboarding test, and a written examination. Music business programs are another option for students. For both music programs, applicants are expected to have a high school diploma and solid writing and computing skills. Some schools require students to take placement tests or college admissions examinations.
Associate of Fine Arts in Music Performance
An associate's degree in music performance provides a foundation for continued studies at the baccalaureate level. Students receive training in music theory, history, composition and performance. The National Association of Schools of Music accredits the music degree programs. Courses expose students to various styles of music and the cultural aspects of music. Learning how to write and read music, workshops, and performances are all part of the program. Students take a combination of general education courses in a variety of topics, such as English, history and the basic sciences as well as music-related coursework on the following topics:
- Music theory
- Aural music
- Ensemble performances
Associate of Arts in Music Business
Music business students learn about the music and entertainment industries in conjunction with general business studies. A program may allow students to concentrate in business management, creative performance or creative production. Students develop skills in copyright registration, business plan creation, record promotion, music marketing and accounting in the music business. The music industry is greatly affected by various business functions, such as marketing, licensing and digital distribution. In addition to the completion of general education courses, students learn about these topics in the following courses:
- Applied music
- Accounting and statistics
- Music theory
- Business law
- Sight singing
- Ear training
Popular Career Options
Graduates can work for record companies (major labels or independent companies), music publishers, instrument manufacturers and developers or retail operations. They apply for entry-level careers in the following roles:
- Artist managers
- Music venue operators
- Music promoters
- Field merchandiser
- Copyright administrator
- Tour coordinator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that jobs for singers and musicians would increase by 3% in the 2014 to 2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The job growth is due to more demand for musical performances. The BLS found that singers and musicians made a median hourly wage of $24.20 in 2015.
Graduates generally continue on to a Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts in music performance upon completion of an associate's degree in the field. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in the field of music business and management are available for students seeking to further their career through additional education. Students with both associate's degrees may also choose to take private lessons to further their musical training.
Students interested in studying music at the associate's degree level can choose from music performance or music business programs. Many graduates of these programs go on to earn bachelor's degrees, but graduates can find work as singers, musicians, artist managers and more.