What is a Music Management Degree?

Music managers are the business minds behind concerts and tours, musical theater, radio programs, and the soundtracks of movies, television, video games, and advertisements. They are the promoters, publicists, agents, executives, and entrepreneurs that drive the music industry.

Degree programs in music management combine traditional business classes with specialized music business courses in artist management, copyright law, publishing, concert promotion and marketing, and public relations. In other words, they prepare students to enter a field that is multifaceted and often pressure packed, in which responsibilities range from making sure an artist has everything packed for a tour to maintaining their social media presence to generating a top 10 hit.

Program Options

Associate Degree in Music Management – Two Year Duration
Music management associate degree programs normally combine lecture classes in the major with an internship/practicum experience, as well as some courses in mathematics, English composition, communications, and the social sciences. Associate programs prepare students for entry-level and some mid-level roles.

Bachelor’s Degree in Music Management – Four Year Duration
The bachelor’s degree program provides a more in-depth study of the subject matter. Many bachelor’s programs in music management also incorporate introductory courses in audio recording and the record production process. Some may also address personal and professional development, career and job strategies, and interviewing and networking skills.

Bachelor’s students participate in a more extensive practicum than is offered in an associate program and often must complete a final capstone project.

Despite the differences described above, undergraduate music management programs are built around courses like these:

  • Introduction to the Music Business – an overview of the functional areas of the music business; current business practices in the music industry; supporting music business organizations and the revenue flow from music consumer to creator
  • History of the Recording Business – the development of independent and major recording labels; popular recordings; social, cultural, economic, and political influences; the stylistic differences of notable historic time periods
  • Copyright Law – the origins, rationale, protections, and limitations of entertainment industry copyright law
  • Radio Promotion in the Music Industry – the label’s use of charting, demographics, release plans, sales, and the role of research in the life of a radio single
  • Electronic Media in the Music Industry – electronic media and the media’s role in promoting music artists
  • Music Business Internship – career education experience in an entertainment setting such as a record label, radio station, or concert planning and promotion company
  • International Music Business – an examination of the competitive global music business; the manufacturing, marketing, management, and financing of entertainment; promotion of the music and entertainment industries
  • Entertainment Career Development – entertainment career development and management; the educational, promotional, and financial concerns of the professional entertainer; entertainer unions, guild, and associations
  • Music Publishing – income streams, contracts and licensing, foreign publishing, catalog development, setting up a publishing company
  • Music Industry Contract Law – contract law as applied to the negotiation, creation, interpretation, and enforcement of binding agreements in the music industry
  • Marketing of Recorded Music – theories and techniques used in the marketing of recorded music by major and independent labels and artists to consumers; topics covered include market structure and analysis, distribution methods, promotional strategies, charts, airplay, pricing, research, and legal issues specific to entertainment marketing
  • Public Relations in the Music Industry – PR techniques used to influence the perception and image of a music artist; media strategy, crisis control, press releases, print and electronic press kits, promotional events, artist related news for media distribution
  • Music Supervision in Film and Television – the musical, financial, legal, and production aspects of placing music in film, television, and other entertainment media
  • A & R (Artist and Repertoire) Administration – the A & R operations of recording companies; how contractual obligations impact activities and profitability; how music products are delivered and archived for future re-purposing
  • Record Company Operations – a practicum-based course applying the operational principles of independent record labels
  • Legal Issues in the Entertainment Business – legal trends that have significant implications in the entertainment industries
  • Entrepreneurship in the Music Industry – identifying opportunities in the entertainment marketplace; exploring potential resources to pursue those opportunities; applying resources for long-term gain
  • Artist Management – talent agencies, personal management, performance and recording contracts, tours/events and artist promotion
  • Concert Promotion and Booking – the role of the concert promoter including contracts, riders, venues, audience projections/demographics, and finance (budgets, corporate sponsorships, gate receipts, etc.)

Master’s Degree in Music Management – Two Year Duration
Master’s programs in music management are aimed at individuals who aspire to leadership roles in the music industry. At this level, students typically choose a concentration and focus on this area through coursework, a practicum, and a final master’s project. The goal of the project is to make a contribution to the music management profession and/or define and solves a problem that exists within it.

Common concentrations for master’s student include:

  • Entrepreneurship Concentration – for students eager to test and develop emerging business ideas in the entertainment industry
  • Live Concentration – for students interested in organizing live music tours and creating and organizing professional live concerts
  • Record Concentration – for students interested in developing and managing a record label

Elective courses may include:

  • Branding, Sponsorship, and Advertising
  • Global Leadership and Management
  • Music Marketing
  • Economics of Creative Industries
  • Publishing, Licensing, and Distribution
  • Data Analytics in the Music Industry
  • Music, Media, and Society
  • The Science of Artist Management
  • Digital Marketing and Social Media Management

Degrees Similar to Music Management

Business Administration
Business administration includes overseeing finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. A business administration degree program, therefore, teaches students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.

Entrepreneurship students learn how to build, promote, and manage their own or others’ businesses. Common classes are entrepreneurial finance, foundations of entrepreneurship, investor relations and funding, new product design and development, and business plans.

This degree field is focused on activities undertaken by businesses to promote the buying or selling of products and services. Students study advertising and promotion, marketing communications, international marketing, marketing management, sales and sales management, consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy.

Depending on the level of degree, programs in this discipline may include courses in music history, theory, composition, ear training, and performance, as well as production techniques and methods and the business of music.

Music Theory and Composition
The typical music theory and composition curriculum is focused on the process of creating music through the elements of sound (overtone, timbre, pitch, amplitude, and duration), melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, structure/form, and expression (dynamics, tempo, and articulation).

Skills You’ll Learn

Music management majors quickly learn that the field is a multifaceted one which calls for a diverse skillset. This means that newly graduated and working music managers are all, to a certain degree:

  • visionaries
  • self-starters
  • disciplined
  • confident
  • creative and resourceful
  • open-minded
  • skilled at building relationships
  • OK with not being liked
  • planners
  • smart budgeters
  • promoters of their ideas
  • delegators
  • willing to do the little things to achieve the big things
  • time managers
  • communicators who speak their mind
  • dreamers, but not daydreamers
  • passionate about problems and obsess over solutions
  • persevering
  • adventurous
  • competitive
  • flexible
  • patient
  • able to work from anywhere

What Can You Do with a Music Management Degree?

Music management grads hold various titles in various settings. Here are some of the most common:

  • A & R (Artist and Repertoire) Administrator (Record Labels and Music Publishers)
  • A & R Director (Record Labels and Music Publishers)
  • A & R Manager (Record Labels and Music Publishers)
  • A & R Representative (Record Labels and Music Publishers)
  • Artist Manager
  • Artist Relations Manager – the liaison between an arts-related company and an artist)
  • Arts and Entertainment Accountant
  • Business Manager (Music or Theater Group)
  • Business Manager (Personal)
  • College Marketing Representative – college student or recent grad who works part-time promoting label artists to the young adult demographic
  • Company Manager (Theater)
  • Concert Hall Marketing Director
  • Concert Promoter
  • Concert / Event Producer
  • Creative Entrepreneur
  • Development Associate / Fundraiser / Grant Writer
  • Digital Content Producer
  • Director of Publicity
  • Entertainment Attorney – requires a law degree
  • Event Operations Coordinator
  • Festival Director
  • General Manager (Orchestra)
  • Independent Radio Promoter
  • Label Manager
  • Licensing Representative – pitches and handles requests for the rights to use music in films, TV, video games, advertisements, businesses, and performances
  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Representative
  • Music Agent / Talent Agent
  • Music Coordinator
  • Music Director / Curator (Radio, Streaming Service)
  • Music Journalist
  • Music Merchandiser
  • Music Publisher
  • Music Supervisor (Film, TV, Video Games)
  • Producer (Film, TV, Theater)
  • Program Director (Radio)
  • Promotion Manager
  • Publicist
  • Record Company Executive
  • Royalty Coordinator
  • Social Media Manager
  • Song Plugger – pitches compositions to recording artists and record labels in the hopes of making a hit
  • Talent Buyer – for performance venues
  • Tour Manager
  • Tour Publicist
  • Venue Manager


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