Associate of Music Business or Audio Production: Degree Overviews

If you're interested in working behind the scenes in the music industry, you may want to pursue an associate's degree in music management or audio production. Learn more about these programs and your options after completion.

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Essential Information

Students enrolled in a two-year associate's degree program in music business will learn how to seek out music talent, promote and manage artists, oversee music publishing, direct public relations, and negotiate contracts. The knowledge gained from this curriculum can prepare graduates to get corporate-level jobs or to start an independent business.

An associate's degree in audio production degree gives students the hands-on training they need to record, mix, and edit music or oversee sound production. Students learn how to use industry-standard audio equipment, and they gain a fundamental understanding of music business practices. In addition to classes and lab work, students in audio production or music business programs may be required to complete an internship prior to graduation.


Associate's Degree in Music Business

This degree program typically combines the creative and technical aspects of music with the management and entrepreneurial skills needed for success in business. Students are taught basic musicianship and how to navigate the legal issues and business cycles associated with the industry. Common program coursework includes:

  • Music history or theory
  • Small business management
  • Music merchandising
  • Promotion
  • Copyright and law
  • Artist management

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  • Multimedia and Digital Communication

Associate's Degree in Audio Production

This degree can be offered as an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) or an Associate in Art (AA), and it typically includes instruction on the recording equipment used by industry professionals. While enrolled in this program, students learn how to use digital technologies for recording, as well as how to edit sound based on the theoretical foundations of sound engineering, electronics and music. Typical course topics include:

  • Musicianship
  • Sound reinforcement
  • Music business
  • Studio recording techniques
  • Digital music

Popular Career Options

A wide range of careers are available on the business side of the music industry, but some may require additional training and education beyond the associate's degree. According to O*Net OnLine, about 50% of managers and talent agents for performers, musicians, and athletes hold a bachelor's degree (www.onetonline.org). However, a music business associate's degree can prepare graduates for entry-level music and recording industry jobs, including:

  • Concert promoter
  • Music publisher or distributor
  • Merchandiser
  • Tour or road manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 7% employment growth for broadcasting and sound engineering technicians between 2014 and 2024. The mean salary for sound engineering technicians was $63,340, as of May 2015. The BLS also predicted that agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes would see a 3% job growth rate between 2014 and 2024. These professionals earned an average yearly income of $95,810, according to 2015 BLS data.

Continuing Education

After getting an associate's degree in music business, students may choose to enroll in bachelor's degree programs in music business or a related field to enhance career opportunities. In a four-year music business or recording industry degree program, students gain further insight into management, public relations, and marketing, which are can help them produce songs, oversee artists, manage a record label, or gain an audience for new music as part of their future careers. Bachelor's degree students can also study the legal issues associated with music publishing, contract negotiations and copyrights, and they can learn to write about the entertainment industry for popular media.

Although a bachelor's degree is not required for employment in sound engineering, professionals may choose to earn one to enhance their hiring prospects in a highly-competitive industry. A bachelor's degree program in audio production or music business can prepare graduates for entry-level and management production careers in the music and broadcast industries. These programs typically build on the associate's degree with intensive studio work, advanced editing and mixing, digital production techniques, and music business training.

In conclusion, an associate's degree in music business or audio production can provide students with a working knowledge of music and business essentials, which they can use to get an entry level job or pursue an advanced degree.

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