Music production programs are usually provided through specialized music or art colleges. Bachelor's degrees are considered the standard for the music production, recording and technology business, though programs are available at the associate's and master's level as well. In the studio and the classroom, students take a hands-on approach to learning music theory, performance, history, technology and conducting. These degree programs teach students about the music business, recording and instrumentation, all of which prepare them for dealing with every aspect of the music industry.
Internships are often required to earn a music production degree. Students must be able to play an instrument and might be required to audition for admission to some programs. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required for acceptance into undergraduate programs.
Because music production is a specialized degree involving a special commitment, some schools may require personal statements along with interviews. Acceptance into a master program requires a bachelor's degree in music or a specialized music discipline. Students may also be required to take the GRE and submit a portfolio of music-recording work. Often, students must have demonstrated during their baccalaureate studies and through employment that they are interested in turning music into a long-term career.
Associate's Degree in Music Production
A music production associate's degree is usually offered as an area of focus within a broader music program. These programs are built around the use of a campus' music studio. Students are likely spend more time in the studio than in the classroom. Students in this program learn the fundamentals of music and mixing technologies through the understanding of analog and digital music. They also learn the basics of operating a recording studio. Courses are often taught by professional recording artists and musicians. Music production students' curricula may involve the following:
- Studio operation
- Music theory
- Learning the keyboard
Bachelor's Degree in Music Production
Most music production degree programs award a degree within a broad focus, and students must usually know at least one instrument. This knowledge of an instrument, such as the keyboard or guitar, becomes useful when working with other musicians. In addition to music technology and producing courses, students earning their bachelor's degree may take music lessons and classes that revolve around the business of the music industry. Some courses may include:
- Music lesson
- Music management
- Electronic music
- Music business
- Sound engineering
Master's Degree in Music Production
Having a master's degree in music production means a graduate has demonstrated knowledge of the music recording industry in areas such as production, research and audio technologies. Outside of mastering the technological equipment, students in this program learn how to train their ear to recognize marketable and listenable music to understand the entire business as much as possible. Classes are similar to those taken by students earning their bachelor's degrees but have very few core-education courses and may require more studio time. The master's thesis for a graduate program in music production often involves recording and producing a piece of professional-grade digital music. Many students hand in fully-pressed LPs of a local band or singer that are sometimes used as a musical act's professional recording. Some classes may include the following:
- Teaching music
- Music technology
- Music theory
- Recording multiple instruments
Popular Career Options
While career options for graduates of associate's-level degrees are limited, students involved in internships through their school may have an easier time finding an entry-level position. Postgraduate internships and apprenticeships are also available. Bachelor's degrees are the standard for graduates entering the music production and recording business. Graduates of master's degree programs may have higher roles in their company and earn more pay than graduates with bachelor's degrees, though jobs are often found at the same businesses. Earning a master's degree also allows the graduate the option of teaching at a university. Career options may include the following:
- Studio assistant
- Studio owner
- Studio manager
- Recording studio intern
- Audio equipment technician
- Recording or audio engineer
- Sounding engineering technician
- Assistant professor of music production
Students interested in music production can check out programs offered at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's level, offering various courses in music education as well as experiential learning within music studios. Graduates can look into careers dealing with several aspects of the production side of music and recording, including studio technicians, audio engineers, music production professors, and more.