The music industry can sometimes seem like a labyrinthian network of infinite possibilities. When you’re first starting out it can be very intimidating to pick a path forward. It’s hard to know who to collaborate with, which projects you should do for money or exposure, and where, or if, you should go to school.

There are many different colleges that offer amazing music programs, across the country. They will enable you to find your footing, find your voice, and learn how to make headway in the craft of making music. However, these various schools all have upsides and downsides. Some of them are cost prohibitive. They’re extremely expensive. Some of them have programs that are subpar, they’re just not as comprehensive as others. It’s up to you to find what the best fit for you really is.

If you are interested in working on the creative side of music, as a musician for example, then you will probably want to study music with a focus on performance and creation of music. There are many music schools that will help you sharpen your craft and get you started on the right foot.

What do You Want from Your Education?

You may want to understand some of the more technical aspects of music, especially if you are interested in recording and producing your own work. With that, there is a slightly different path to success. It’s not always required that you have a degree if you’re working as a producer or engineer. In those contexts, it’s more about your skills and abilities.

Much like other educational programs, there are typically four basic levels of education offered by schools and trade institutions. An associate’s degree is the lowest level of completion and typically takes about two years, a bachelor’s degree takes around four years in total and is often considered a standard level of education for recording musicians and sound engineers.

A master’s degree takes about two years beyond the bachelor’s degree and is usually quite specialized, and a doctorate or PhD often requires about four years after a bachelor’s degree and is the highest degree offered by most schools. If you wish to be a recording musician or a sound engineer, you will likely only need a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree.

An associate’s degree or a similar type of certification is often offered by technical schools, and those schools that focus primarily on teaching you what you need for your chosen profession. A master’s degree is typically only pursued by someone interested in teaching music, or who wishes to study music in a very academic sense. Most musicians who pursue a PhD are looking to understand music in a highly specialized way, and will likely work as a teacher, researcher, or serious composer.

Look Beyond Traditional Education

These levels of education are not often pursued by studio musicians. They are typically for someone looking to research music and work in a more archival capacity. These different college degrees in music are offered by schools all across the country, so you should look for a program that is right for you, rather than just the type of degree you are interested in receiving.

However, the long story short version is that it all just depends on where you have your sights set. Are you trying to be a producer or an engineer? Then you need skills not degrees. If you’re trying to be someone who makes beats, someone who produces tracks, and someone who really really throws themselves into the process of making music… you might be better off with some sort of apprenticeship where you can make connections and jumpstart your career.

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