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Online Undergraduate Music Degree Options

Get information about online undergraduate music degree programs. Read about program details and requirements, course descriptions, as well as career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Many schools offer online associate's degree programs in music technology and bachelor's degree programs in music business. Both programs can be completed totally through online study, with students accessing course materials and lessons at any time, within set deadlines. Some bachelor's degree programs could require some on-campus lab courses.

An associate's degree program in music technology teaches students about recording. Students learn about setting up and utilizing a small home studio. Courses in the use of Pro Tools in production may qualify students for Avid Pro Tools certification. Other courses cover topics such as songwriting and music and the media.

Students in a bachelor's degree program in music business get an education in the business side of the entertainment industry. Courses may include entrepreneurship, marketing, and financial accounting as well as artist management and music publishing. Many programs require a final project.

Associate's Degree in Music Technology Overview

In an online Associate in Arts (A.A.) in Music Technology degree program, students can learn about a wide variety of music production and promotion topics. Other related areas of multimedia arts and entertainment can also be studied within this program, such as video arts and graphic design.

Program Information and Requirements

Usually 90 credit hours are needed to earn an A.A. in Music Technology. No campus visits are typically required in order to complete the degree program. The course materials are delivered through an online course management system. The ability to read music or play an instrument may not be required.

Common Associate's-Level Music Courses

Approximately half of the credits earned come from core and support courses in music technology and other related multimedia topics. The rest of the credits come from general education courses in areas such as English and math.

Recording in a Home Studio

This course examines the basics and foundations of working in a small environment-recording studio. The necessary processes and techniques for carrying out a recording project from inception to completion are summarized and outlined. Other topics studied include acoustic treatments, microphone design and placement, computer software programs, mixer setup and MIDI keyboards.

Pro Tools

Pro Tools recording software and the concepts and methods of operating it are analyzed in detail. Students learn the basics of setting up a virtual multi-track recording session and develop skills for mixing and editing that recording session. Other topics such as audio looping with REX or ACID files, virtual instruments, plug-ins, automation modes and advanced session management strategies are discussed.

Music and Media

Students examine the evolution of media delivery from Edison's first phonograph to modern day MP3s and the impact they've had on popular music. The effect of media delivery methods on various genres, such as jazz, swing, country, rock n' roll, punk, ska and hip hop is reviewed as well as their influence on society. Popular and visionary recording artists, such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, and Chuck D. are discussed in a historical context.

Bachelor's Degree in Music Business

Online Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Music Business degree programs are sometimes offered as degree completion programs, intended for those who have already received an associate's degree; however, stand-alone programs also exist. Though scarce, bachelor's degrees in music production are also available online. A B.S. in Music Business degree program combines technical training in music with essential business, marketing and finance skills and knowledge. These concepts are related specifically to operating or working in a music-related business like merchandising, promotion or artist management.

Program Information and Requirements

The degree completion programs average 61 credit hours needed for completion, while the stand-alone programs can require as many as 128 credits. Although some degree programs can be completed entirely online, others include select courses that require a classroom component for lab work. The online materials are presented asynchronously, allowing students to work on them at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. Students interact with their instructors and peers through online message boards, chat rooms and e-mails.

Some schools require students to use an Apple computer to access the online materials because they will not work with a PC. These schools often have programs in place that allow students to purchase an Apple laptop computer and related required software at a discounted price.

Common Bachelor's-Level Music

The curriculum of a B.S. in Music Business is composed of core music business courses and general education credits. A final project is often conducted at the culmination of the degree program to summarize and test all of the skills and knowledge acquired thus far.

Music Business Entrepreneurship

This course views the fundamentals of entrepreneurship from practical, behavioral and social perspectives with an emphasis on applications to the entertainment and music business worlds. The differences among business entities, such as corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships are identified. Students begin to develop an entrepreneurial way of thinking necessary to create an enterprise, annex other businesses and return maximum profits from current ventures.

Music Marketing, Merchandising and Promoting

Publicity in the music industry is the focus of this course. Trends in consumer behavior are analyzed as well as methods and strategies for making consumers want to purchase certain products. The retail process is studied in detail from developing an artist or product to getting it to consumers. The effects of packaging, branding and the Internet on modern music marketing are illustrated.

Financial Accounting in the Music Business

Students examine applied finance as it relates to the music industry. The concept of valuation is highlighted as a useful method for budgeting and management decisions. Other topics covered include acquiring a business license, procuring business capital and developing an operating budget as well as the basics of investing, returns and risk.


Career Information

O*Net reported in 2016 that 22% of broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators held an associate's degree, (www.online.onetcenter.org). Additional on-the-job training is usually undertaken upon initial entry to the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2015, there were 13,840 sound engineering technicians employed and earning an average yearly salary of $63,340 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicted an occupational growth of 7% for sound engineering technicians between the years 2014-2024.

A bachelor's degree is a commonly held level of degree for business managers of artists and performers. O*Net reported that 50% of agents and business managers working with artists, performers and athletes hold a bachelor's degree, though some work experience is also highly encouraged (www.online.onetcenter.org). The BLS reported that there were 13,230 business managers of artists, performers and athletes as of May 2015, and they earned an average yearly salary of $95,810 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicted a better than average growth of 3% for business managers working with athletes, artists and performers between the years 2014-2024.

Continuing Education

Master's degrees in music or entertainment business are also offered through entirely online means. These degree programs provide business managers of artists and performers with the advanced skills and knowledge needed to advance their careers and the careers of those they are managing.

An online undergraduate degree in music-related fields can be completed entirely online. Students learn about many different music production and promotion techniques in an associate's degree program in music technology, while bachelor's degree students in music business programs will focus more on music promotion and corporate communication.

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