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What can you do with a music industry studies degree? 

Students from Pacific's music industry studies program in a recording studio.

The music industry is an exhilarating, rapidly evolving field. Behind every professional musician is a team of experts working in production, licensing, recording, marketing, managing venues and mastering the technology to bring more music to more people.  

Here’s why you should major in music industry studies

A degree in music industry studies prepares students for the modern world of music by blending the business side of the industry with the more technical aspects of the recording arts. And unlike the music business degree, music industry students don’t have to audition or even play an instrument to succeed in the program. Through internships at top record labels, field trips to industry hotspots, experiential learning opportunities and study with renowned faculty experts, students graduate with robust professional networks, paving the way for a variety of jobs within the performance and entertainment industry.

Here are some careers a music industry degree can lead to:

6 ways to work in the music industry

  1. Record labels 
    A record label is a company that creates, distributes and promotes musical artists and their work. Whether it’s a major or indie label, these companies have several departments and employment needs tailored to your expertise and interests.

    Licensing associates: These professionals know the ins and outs of licensing and song rights and can navigate the commercial use of music, like whether a song can be played in a film or television show or in various media.  

    Royalty specialists: Royalty specialists oversee the nuances of copyright law, contracts and royalty disbursements to ensure artists and third-party recipients are fairly compensated for their work.

    A&R (artist and repertoire): A&R representatives serve as talent scouts for record labels. With their ears to the ground, they are attuned to the latest trends and help discover and sign new talent.  

    Marketing and PR: These folks promote artists through various channels, including web, television, social media, podcasts and print. Experts trained in graphic design, photography and video help bring the overall vision to life. 

    Tip: Interning for a record label can be a great place to get your foot in the door and make connections while exploring various career paths in the music industry. 
  2. Music Publishing 
    Music publishers specialize in marketing musical works for commercial success and ensure the composer or songwriter receives compensation in exchange for a share of the profits. They pitch their client’s compositions to record companies and help land songs in film, television shows, advertisements, video games and more. A deep understanding of music licensing is crucial for a publisher, and many individuals start out working at record labels or as licensing associates before transitioning into publishing. 
  3. Live concert industry 
    Working on live concerts can be an exhilarating experience as artists travel across the country—or world—to deliver unforgettable performances to devoted fans. Putting on a show can be a huge undertaking that requires the coordinated efforts of hundreds of individuals. Here is a sampling of the many jobs that contribute to the magic of live performances: 

    Tour manager: A tour manager is the logistical linchpin of a concert tour, making sure all aspects run smoothly. This includes arranging transportation and accommodations (hotels, flights, buses), managing the budget, negotiating with venues and maintaining a schedule for the artist and company. It’s an ideal career for highly organized individuals with a thirst for adventure.

    Concert promoter: Concert promoters help publicize live music events, concerts or tours to draw in audiences. They collaborate with booking agents, venues, artists and other industry professionals to plan and execute successful events. Their responsibilities often include securing venues, negotiating contracts, setting ticket prices and marketing the performance. 

    Venue manager: A venue manager oversees all aspects of event coordination and the day-to-day operations of concert spaces. They are responsible for handling advertising, managing food and drink services and security. They may also hire concert crew including stage managers, sound and lighting technicians and production assistants who are crucial to delivering live performances. 

    Booking agent: A booking agent is someone who arranges and negotiates appearances for an artist. They also look after administrative responsibilities like attending meetings with venue and industry professionals, distributing promotional materials and handling the financial aspects of performances and tours.
  4. Artist management  
    Just like in any profession, artists need managers too. It’s likely that at some point in their career, an artist will seek help managing the business aspects of their job so they can concentrate on their music. An artist manager acts as the middleman between the artist and the industry. They help strategize, handle publicity requests, oversee day-to-day schedules and help the artist further their career. Successful artist managers are detail-oriented, master communicators and great at networking and directing many moving parts at once.
  5. Producing 
    Music producers are master collaborators who often wear multiple hats. These professionals oversee the entire production process of a song or album, from hiring musicians to scheduling the recording session, to working the soundboard. Successful producers have a working knowledge of audio recording and mixing and understand the latest trends across musical genres. They must possess excellent communication skills and excel in liaising with musicians and recording engineers, managing contracts, balancing a budget and more. Producers play a pivotal role in shaping the artistic direction of a project, making it an ideal career for individuals with a strong creative vision and leadership ability. 
  6. Entertainment law 
    With the rise of digital media used for music production and distribution, the demand for lawyers who can navigate the complexities of the music industry has never been greater. Entertainment lawyers provide guidance on contract negotiation, intellectual property rights, licensing agreements and copyright law. In addition to representing artists, entertainment lawyers also advise companies that produce and distribute music. To become an entertainment attorney, students will need to attend law school after finishing their undergraduate program and earn a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. For this reason, many students interested in music industry studies choose to minor in pre-law to get a foundational understanding of legal principles prior to going to graduate school.

Why is a music industry studies degree at Pacific different? 

Real-world experience

Pacific’s music industry studies program provides a career-focused approach with robust hands-on experiences like the student-run record label Pac Ave Records, mandatory internships, and professional development courses that teach students about revenue streams, royalty computations and financial literacy. Seniors in the program are also required to work with Pacific’s career services department to polish their resumes and apply for jobs before graduation.  

Benom Plumb, program director for music industry studies and music management, encourages students to seek out internships or summer jobs even if they aren’t directly related to their areas of interest, whether it’s a ticketing gig at a local venue or a part-time job at a music festival. 

Your path won’t be linear,” says Plumb. “Even if an experience is adjacent to a field you’re interested in, take it. Take those unexpected opportunities because you never know what’s going to come from them.” 

In February, Plumb led seven seniors in Pacific’s music industry studies program on an eight-day field trip to Los Angeles coinciding with the Grammy Awards. The city is one of the prime destinations for those trying to break into the music industry, along with Nashville, New York and San Francisco. During the trip, students met with music and entertainment industry professionals, toured studios and went behind the scenes of leading media powerhouses including Warner Music and NBC Universal. 
And unlike programs at other universities that are often housed within communications or business departments, Pacific’s program is housed within the Conservatory of Music which gives students the advantage of working directly with musicians and creative peers. The arrangement lets students hone their skills across sectors that are reflective of the industry, such as in songwriting, music production, social media marketing and more.  

Student Dylan Bliss ’24 shares her experience providing concert support for Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish through her summer internship at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento

Involved alumni

Developing meaningful connections with people in the music industry is critical for building a successful career. Another distinctive feature of Pacific’s program is its Music Industry Advisory Board of alumni and industry leaders. These professionals actively contribute to curriculum development, provide mentorship, financial support and help facilitate job placement for students.  

Where you’ll find some of our alumni

  • Apple Music
  • Live Nation 
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic 
  • Meta
  • Spotify
  • Warner Records

“Pacific students have a network of strong alumni who have had time to navigate the industry and are willing to interact with the newer students,” says alumna Mellany Dotson ’20, who is a music clearance assistant at Apple TV+. “The one piece of advice I’d give is to be persistent, and don’t be discouraged in the job search. You can learn from all experiences…find ways to continue to exercise your knowledge and keep going!” 
Getting a degree in music industry studies will provide you with a strong foundation, practical experience and the professional connections that will set you up to succeed in this innovative field. 

Learn more about music industry studies at Pacific  

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