Music technology programs teach students how to incorporate computers and other technology into music and multimedia production. Music technology degrees are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, and all of these programs emphasize hands-on practice with common recording equipment.
Application requirements vary between programs and schools. Some bachelor's and master's programs require in-person auditions or submission of recorded performances. Also, along with associate's degree programs, bachelor's degree programs necessitate holding a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some 2-year schools require students to submit SAT or ACT scores, although this is more common among 4-year colleges and universities. Once admitted, internships may be required.
Graduates may be poised for employment in a variety of music industry positions, from audio programmer to studio engineer.
Associate's Degree in Music Technology
Associate's degree programs in music technology introduce students to basic recording studio equipment and techniques, while preparing them for advanced study. Additionally, associate's degree candidates may be required to complete courses in vocal or instrumental performance.
Students in an associate's degree program in music technology develop a working knowledge of the industry. They have the opportunity to gain the technical and theoretical knowledge needed to be a part of a production team. Graduates who opt not to further their music technology education should be adequately prepared for at-home music production or an apprenticeship at a recording studio.
Courses that provide this preparation include:
- Film and video sound design
- Introduction to digital audio
- Home studio production
- Music industry fundamentals
Bachelor's Degree in Music Technology
Bachelor's degree programs in music technology are intended for both musically gifted students and those who might lack music skills but possess technological savvy. Degree candidates are introduced to the intricacies of music manipulation technology as they gain hands-on experience with analog and digital recording systems. Undergraduate music technology programs also aim to develop students' appreciation and understanding of music through history, conducting and performance classes.
In addition to being accepted by a college or university, applicants for undergraduate music technology programs often must earn acceptance from that school's music department. The application process might include a live musical audition and proof of sight-reading and ear training skills.
Bachelor's degree students in music technology usually complete general education courses in English, mathematics and the sciences as well as industry-specific classes. Core classes include:
- Computer music synthesis
- Musical acoustics
- Recording technology
- Special effect and soundtrack composition
- Studio maintenance
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Music Composition and Theory
- Music History and Literature
- Music Merchandising and Management
- Music Pedagogy
- Music Performing
- Musical Conducting
- Musicology and Ethnomusicology
- Piano and Organ
- Stringed Instruments
- Voice and Opera
Master's Degree in Music Technology
Graduate students in music technology are introduced to new and emerging technologies in audio programming, multimedia and sound design. At the same time, students continue to build their musical performing, listening, composing and conducting skills. Graduate programs in music technology often include an internship component rather than a thesis.
Master's applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in music technology or a related field. They also may be required to provide a portfolio with proof of music literacy and instruction, in addition to live, video or audio evidence of their performance abilities. Some colleges require applicants to provide scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); however, this is not true of most graduate programs in this area. Master's degree programs typically cover theories and methods of music technology. Courses might include:
- Advanced applications in interactive design
- Advanced composing with computers
- Designing for new media
- Multimedia digital sound design
- Physics of sound
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree graduate in music technology might land an apprenticeship or an entry-level position in the music industry. Master's degree graduates have gained specialized expertise and their knowledge and skills qualifies them to work as multimedia specialists. Possible job titles may include:
- Music agent assistant
- Recording studio assistant
- Sound technician
- Audio programmers
- Multimedia specialists
- Music content providers
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of audio and video equipment technicians will increase by 12% in the 2014-2024 decade. During this same period, job growth for sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8%, the average rate. Those who work in broadcasting are expected to have better prospects. In May 2015, the median annual wage for audio and video equipment technicians was $41,440, while the median annual wage of sound engineering technicians was $53,330.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates seeking a sophisticated education may pursue a terminal PhD. degree. Doctoral candidates explore advanced topics in music technology, such as information retrieval, digital signal theory, electronic music performance and interactive 3-D audio. PhD. graduates may work within the career fields of music industry research and development, audio computation or music technology education.
Through direct interaction, students of music technology learn to utilize and innovate with modern sound technology. Study of this subject can be an interest that jump-starts a career with an associate's degree, or it can be a nearly lifelong pursuit concluding with a PhD.