New professional practice primes students for music industry careers

a student sits in a recording booth

Students in the Conservatory of Music studying the music industry at University of the Pacific are now running the show—literally. 

In the innovative professional practice initiative, students in the Music Industry Studies and Music Management majors are setting up and running a variety of productions, working on set design, lighting, sound, ticketing, marketing, recording and the many other aspects of managing and producing Conservatory performances.

“We are dramatically amplifying hands on-training opportunities to prepare students for multi-faceted careers in the music industry,” said Benom Plumb, associate professor and program director for Music Industry Studies and Music Management. “This is an experience not offered in many institutions that gives our students a distinct advantage over graduates of other programs. Employers want to know what experience you have, and our students will be able to show them real examples.”

At a recent Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Band Concert that included live oration, students in the music industry programs worked behind-the scenes to record the performance and assist in stage set-up, lighting, sound and ticketing.

“I have learned how to mic a stage for an orchestra, everything that goes into lighting, stage terminology, etiquette. It’s been amazing learning all these things,” said Amanda Singh ’23, a Music Industry Studies major.

Pacific has made a substantial investment in new technology to be competitive with some of the nation’s leading music industry programs, including University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Syracuse University and Berklee College in Boston. 

High-end headphones and microphones and the latest professional recording software and hardware are some of the state-of-the-art technology students use, learning on the same or similar equipment found at leading companies.

Students also gain a better understanding of how the music industry operates by working on projects in a unique collaboration. They produce an album from start to finish by dividing into teams, each of which handles a different part of the process, such as recording, copyright research, album curation, marketing and distribution.

“This is tremendously beneficial for everyone involved. Our student musicians are getting high-quality recordings of their performances, which they can use in their portfolios, while our music industry students gain invaluable hands-on experience in the business,” Plumb said. 

Pacific’s Music Industry Studies and Music Management programs prepare students for everything from music publishing and licensing to artist management and live entertainment promotion.

“There are so many opportunities to work in the creative arts,” said Regent Scott Liggett ’71, a long-time music executive in Los Angeles. “Dean (Peter) Witte’s program initiative is an ideal way to expand the students’ understanding of the many possibilities that exist for a career."

The music industry is part of America’s creative sector economy, which is projected to become $1 trillion, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surpassed only by health care and retail.

Pacific’s music industry graduates have landed jobs at some of the most high-profile companies in the business including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Meta and Spotify, among others.

Pacific was the first university in Northern California to offer a music industry program and remains one of the few.