MBA Music Business

Mar 30, 2021

What Is an MBA in Music Business Degree?

An MBA in Music Business focuses on the business side of the music industry. Music Business is a concentration within a Master of Business Administration degree program. It is important to note that a Master of Business Administration degree differs from a Master of Arts, Master of Science, or Master of Music. A music business concentration may not always be slotted into an MBA program. An MBA places a high focus on business coursework ranging from accounting and finance to marketing and entrepreneurship. Most programs do not require the GRE or GMAT to be accepted and can be completed within one to two years.

Why Should I Get a Music Business Master's Degree?

Earning a master's degree is not a requirement for working in the music business. However, it can be the key to unlocking a higher salary in the field and gaining a broader understanding of the industry from the outside. An MBA in Music Business offers a variety of courses relating to the specifics of the music business, but also of the business world in general. Someone with niche music industry experience (assisting at a record label, or hosting a radio show) may benefit from understanding the business aspects of the industry. To see the full picture or a new perspective of the music business, earning an MBA can be invaluable.

Common Undergraduate Degrees for an MBA in Music Business

Although some schools may require knowledge of business or music before applying to a music business MBA program, many schools accept students regardless of the subject of an undergraduate degree. A person applying for an MBA in Music Business may have earned a bachelor's degree in:

  • Business Administration
  • Music Industry/Business
  • Communications
  • Music (Performance/Education/Production)

Admissions Requirements for an MBA in Music Business Program

For a majority of MBA in Music Business programs, it is not necessary to take the GRE or GMAT. Some schools may require a music and/or business degree to be admitted into a music business program. Prospective students may need to submit proof of their music or business knowledge and experience. However, some schools do not require a degree in either music or business. Standard admission requirements for on-campus and online graduate programs in music business include completion of the graduate application form and submission of undergraduate transcripts. Schools may also require potential students to complete a personal goal statement essay and send letters of recommendation.

How to Choose an MBA in Music Business Program

To choose the right program, you must decide whether you would prefer to take classes on campus, fully online, or in a hybrid option of in-person and online. Online programs tend to offer more flexibility and can be completed more quickly depending on the chosen pace of the student. They can be particularly beneficial for students who are working and taking care of a family.

Programs that meet on campus might be better if you want to make connections with fellow students in the field, or if you prefer a program that offers course credit for internships. Another deciding factor should be the cost of tuition, and financial aid or scholarship opportunities.

You may also want to make sure you'll be interested in the classes you'll be taking. Some programs may require you to take music classes, which may not be ideal if you're not musically inclined. However, if you want to learn more about music technology, you may want to make sure the school offers a class on the topic. You should always review the curriculum of the master's program you're applying for to ensure the classes will teach you applicable skills necessary to your career goals.

If you're unsure about going for a master's degree in the field, you might consider a music business certificate, a smaller program that allows you to take several highly specialized courses at the graduate level. Some schools accept and transfer certificate coursework into relevant master's degree programs. Certificates in this field include:

  • Music Industry Ethics
  • Artist Management
  • Music Rights and Licensing
  • Music Entrepreneurship
  • Music Production

MBA in Music Business Degree Courses

Students should expect to complete both business and music courses for this degree. Core business courses can sometimes emphasize scenarios specific to the music industry. However, some programs do not account for degree concentration when taking general business classes. Common Master of Business Administration core classes cover topics such as:

  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Economics
  • Analytics

MBA in Music Business Foundational Courses

Students without an undergraduate degree in business typically need to take foundational courses for select programs. Foundational courses offer students an opportunity to catch up with peers who may have already studied business fundamentals. These classes even the playing field for all students, regardless of their background before joining the MBA program. They also allow insight into the core classes that follow foundational courses, so students feel prepared for what is to come. There are typically 2-3 foundational courses for an MBA in music business program. Most courses are for credit, though foundational courses can be zero credits, depending on the school. Foundational courses in an MBA in music business program may include:

  • Business Leadership
  • Corporate Finance
  • Business Statistics

MBA in Music Business Specialist & Elective Courses

Specialist and elective courses are classes that will align with the music business concentration. These courses will focus on the fundamentals of the music industry and specific job functions. Programs may offer music management courses such as:

  • Artist and Tour Management
  • Music Copyright Law
  • Music Marketing or Branding

Licensure & Certification for an MBA in Music Business

There are many careers in the music industry that do not require an additional license or certification. However, a license or certification may be important for the following careers:

  • Music Teacher - Though licensure requirements vary by state, prospective teachers must receive a music education certification.
  • Music Attorney - A license to practice law would be a requirement for someone who plans to become a music attorney or lawyer through the American Bar Association.
  • Audio Technician - This role typically requires a person to become licensed as a Certified Technology Specialist.

Work Experience and Internships in Music Business Master's Programs

Experience is paramount in the music industry and is typically how you can score an interview. Schools may require or give the option for students to do an internship and earn degree credits. Many internships are also paid. An internship is typically the length of one school semester, although there is potential for a company to ask you to complete another internship for an additional semester. It's a great way to get your foot in the door; a company may hire you for a full-time position after your internship is complete.

Music industry internships can be found at record labels, entertainment companies, radio stations, communications networks, and recording or production studios.

Post-Graduate Options After an MBA in Music Business

After earning an MBA, graduates might consider continuing their education by pursuing a doctorate, which is the highest academic degree you can earn. Many doctoral degree holders have vast experience in the field and pursue academic careers to pass on their expertise. After earning an MBA in Music Business, you could earn your doctorate in the following areas:

  • Musicology
  • Music Technology
  • Music Business and Entertainment Industry
  • Business Law

What Can I Do with an MBA in Music Business Degree?

There are plenty of careers for people who love music. For an artist to be successful, a lot of work is done behind the scenes. Booking venues for tours, artist branding, publicity, financial management, radio placement, music sales, and recording session production are all necessary components of the music industry. An MBA in Music Business can prepare graduates for a variety of high paying music career options.

Many programs prepare graduates to be entrepreneurs. Individuals may open their own talent or booking agency, recording studio, music streaming service, or record label. If you enjoy data analysis or artist rights, you might consider working in positions related to copyright law, music licensing, or royalties. There are positions available as a copyright specialist, music licensing coordinator, or royalty analyst. These are data-driven positions that focus on talent and record label rights. Music lovers might be interested in music supervision. This role selects and licenses the music for movies, TV shows, video games, and commercials. Graduates would find these positions at a record label or public performance organization (PRO). PROs represent music performers and composers by licensing artist performances to businesses and collecting royalties for the artist.

Working in a media or broadcast company would also be suitable for music business graduates. These businesses may rely on musicians for branding, publicity, and marketing. In a broadcast role, one might work at a broadcast TV network, music streaming company, or radio station. For individuals looking to work with talent, potential career options include artist and repertoire (A&R) managers, recording engineers, or publicists. However, there are other avenues to take in the industry as well, such as a role in finance for a music-related business, or a position as a music marketing professional. For a more hands-on role in the music industry, options include artist and touring managers, concert promoters, sound engineers, session musicians, or music teachers. Managers, promoters, and audio producers work directly with artists or performance venues. Recording session musician and music teacher positions are dependent on musical talent or education, although the knowledge gained from music business courses is beneficial to fully understand the specifics of the music industry.

How to Become a Vice President of Licensing

In this leadership role, you will be developing the licensing agreements for a company, and maintaining licensing partnerships. This will require negotiation skills and a thorough understanding of music licensing. A person in this role will be expected to create a strategy to increase revenue for the company. Job requirements include:

  • Bachelor's degree; MBA preferred
  • 7+ years of music licensing experience
  • International travel
  • Leadership skills
  • Deep knowledge of music copyright laws domestically and abroad

A VP of music licensing can earn $190,859 per year on average, according to Glassdoor.

How to Become an Artist Relations Manager

If you're sociable and want to work directly with talent, you might be a good fit as an Artist Relations Manager. A person in this role ensures the artist is involved in fruitful deals with their record label, endorsements, or promotional companies. Job requirements include:

  • Bachelor's degree or above
  • 7+ years of music industry experience
  • Understanding of music licensing and partnership agreements
  • Knowledge of music industry trends

An artist relations manager can earn $83,077 per year on average, according to Glassdoor.

MBA in Music Business Program Financial Aid & Scholarship Resources

Many schools offer financial aid to graduate students. Completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application can help you see if you qualify for any grants, loans or work-study programs.

Schools may also offer payment plans, which help to spread the cost of tuition out over the course of the semester instead of paying all at once. Depending on the program, graduate assistant or apprentice positions may also be available through the school. These positions are for enrolled graduate students to work as an assistant in the degree program. In exchange for the graduate assistant work, you can receive a partial or full tuition waiver and/or a stipend. Veterans may also receive discounted tuition rates for their service to the country.

Lastly, schools, companies and non-profit organizations offer many scholarship opportunities. Scholarships do not have to be specific to music or business for a graduate student in a music business program to take advantage of. Individual scholarships come with their own specific requirements and can be quite competitive. Scholarships can offer partial or full tuition assistance. For a scholarship specifically for Music Business majors, one might consider applying to the following:

  • Military MBA Scholarship is for U.S. veterans who are pursuing a Master's of Business Administration. The scholarship must be used at one of the 27 MBA Member School graduate programs across the country.
  • The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans will cover two years of graduate school, up to $90,000. To apply you or your parents must have immigrated to the U.S.
  • The Forte Foundation MBA Fellows is a fellowship for women pursuing an MBA. Fellowship hopefuls must apply to a Forte partner school to be considered.
  • The National Founders Graduate Business Student Scholarship offers $500 to full-time graduate students interested in entrepreneurship.
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