Benefits of a Music Degree

Written by: Tina McKee

Music Degree
Music Education

        As a recent graduate from Lewis University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Merchandising, it is easy to relate to the struggles of choosing a college major and utilizing one’s degree after he or she graduates. Students often question which major will best fit their interests, as well as the benefits and financial stability that coincides with his or her decision. For some, the choice is obvious and no change occurs throughout the course of a student’s education, and for others, students will make several adjustments in their career focus while studying at a collegiate level. While there are many career options out there, studying music or music business is unique because there are many careers within the music industry, creativity is shown inside and outside of the workplace, and music is all around us.

   Primarily, one of the benefits of studying music or music business is that there are multiple roads that the aspiring artist can take once he or she commits to a music degree. According to David and Tim Baskerville, authors of Music Business Handbook and Career Guide, “…talented individuals- agents, managers, producers, sound engineers, label executives, bookers, promoters, broadcasters, business advisers, lawyers, accountants- perform their vital roles throughout the process. The differences, of course, are in the details” (Baskerville 3). These occupations are all crucial to the music business, because without them, the music industry would be chaos. Agents and managers keep his or her client’s schedule organized and handle the artist(s) appearances, while producers, sound engineers, and label executives are responsible for creating a final product for a specific audience to enjoy. Booking agents or promoters line up concerts and spread the word about them. Lastly, lawyers and accountants handle contracts and financial decisions and disputes in a fair and efficient manner. These occupants may be employed by a specific record label or work independently.
Perhaps it is common sense, but it is important to remember that there are many people who work alongside the artist, band, or performer to help them establish their brand.
Also, I think that being educated in music or music business creates a creative mind. How? Learning different chord structures and applying basic music theory to various compositions is one way music students develop creativity. Recently, I came across a quote in an article by Blake Madden titled, “Why Music Education Actually Matters,” where Madden uses a sample quote from John J. Ratey, MD’s work, A User’s Guide to the Brain. According to Ratey, “The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling…Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attention skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression.” (Madden 3) (To read the full article, visit
Plus, each piece of the music industry puzzle requires delicate thought. Developing the perfect chorus of a song, organizing a nationwide tour, and handling contracts all require the attention of someone who is willing to think on his or her toes and focus clearly on major and minor details. The music industry is a competitive field and I strongly feel that if one does not think creatively, then he or she will not stand out, and in this career field, standing out is very important.
In addition, this are of knowledge does not only help music students in his or her career field. Creative thinking applies to just about any career field one can think of.

     Lastly, I leave you with one final thought. Music is an essential part of everyday life, whether or not we are willing to admit it. Music is on the radio when we go to the grocery store, bands perform in bars on Friday and Saturday nights when we are out socializing, and let’s face it, we have all sang in the shower at one time or another. In my opinion, music gives us something to believe in; it picks us up when we are down and gives us something we can all enjoy. In other words, if you are truly passionate about being a musician or working with musicians, then you should consider a degree in music.

Ryan Argast, a third year student at Columbia College of Chicago studying Arts Entertainment and Media Management (Focus in Music Business), gave me his perspective on studying music or music business. He says, “Studying music or the business of it makes someone a well rounded person with skills that not everyone has. It makes you think "outside of the box" and solve problems many are afraid to face. You find the person you are in the lowest of times. Studying music will take you all the way to the bottom and you will learn how to fight, scratch, and claw your way to the top. You will become something you never thought you could be. The degree is all you make of it. You could become today's most successful entrepreneur or homeless. That feeling of not knowing and not having a guarantee in anything in life makes you smarter, stronger, and creative to make sure it all works out.”

Tina McKee is currently manager of One Year Reign (, an alternative rock band from New Lenox, Illinois.


Argast, Ryan. Online interview. 7 Mar. 2014.
Baskerville, David, and Tim Baskerville. Music Business Handbook and Career Guide. 9th ed. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2010. Print.
Madden, Blake. "Why Music Education Actually Matters." Web log post. Trust Me I'm a Scientist. N.p., 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2014. <>.