Western Illinois University
Is your music business program the best it can be? Is it meeting the needs of your students as they prepare for careers in a rapidly changing music industry? What will it take to move your program to the next level? These were some of the questions that I asked myself in preparation for studying music business curricula as a part of my sabbatical project.
My goal was to identify a model music business curriculum, and once identified, compare it with the curriculum required of the music business major at Western Illinois University, and then make recommendations for change.
During the study, 31 music business programs were reviewed from the institutional lists of NAMBI (NAMM [The International Music Products Association] Affiliated Music Business Institutions) and MEIEA. Music business programs which are housed in the music department and that have a focus on preparing students for careers in the business side of the music industry were studied by reviewing their curricular materials and music business course offerings as outlined in their undergraduate catalogs and on their institution’s web site. Six of these programs were also selected for onsite visits. After reviewing the above materials, a model music business curriculum was drafted.
Sixty Western Illinois University music business graduates were then surveyed to identify their opinions as to the importance of each course in the model curriculum draft.
They were asked to consider which courses should be required, and to evaluate the relevance of our current curriculum in preparing students for careers in the music industry. (Because of time limitations, those music business graduates living in foreign countries were not included in the survey.) After sending a second survey to those not responding, forty-five graduates (75%) returned completed surveys.
Western Illinois University graduates were asked to evaluate three different content areas including courses in music business, general business, and music. In addition, they were asked to evaluate the importance of including a business minor as a part of the music business requirements. Graduates were asked to use a five-point Likert-type scale to rate the degree of importance of offering each course (1 = not important, 3 = important, 5 = very important.)
The music business core includes required music business courses as well as music business courses offered as electives. Graduates were asked to rate the importance of offering each as a distinct course for the music business major. They were instructed to consider each course as it relates to the industry in general rather than to their specific careers.
Respondents rated seven music business courses as “very important” (mean score of 4.00 or higher), including the music business internship; introduction to music business; a two-semester general survey of the music industry; music industry seminar (current events and issues); computer applications in music business; music copyright, licensing, contracts, and publishing; and manufacturing, distribution, and retailing of music products. See Table 1.
Table 1 Importance of Music Business Courses
Responses were entered on a Likert-type
scale of 1 to 5 1 = Not Important, 3 = Important, 5 = Very Important
(Mean = Average Score, Median = Middle Score, Mode = Most Frequent
|Music business internship||4.93
|Introduction to music business (one-semester)||4.89
|General survey of the music industry (two-semester)||4.87
|Music industry seminar (current events and issues)||4.69
|Computer applications in music business||4.27
|Music copyright, licensing, contracts,and publishing||4.16
|Manufacturing, distribution, retailing of music products||4.11
||4.00||4.00 & 5.00|
|Artist management, concert promotion & production||3.89
|Record industry operations||3.89
|Arts administration (symphony, opera, venue, non-profits)||3.80
||4.00||3.00 & 4.00|
|Starting a business in the music industry||3.64
||4.00||4.00 & 5.00
|Recording techniques (live and studio)||3.49
|Digital audio production||3.22
|Advanced recording techniques||3.09
|Brass tech (Learning to play brassinstruments)||2.22
|Percussion tech (Learning to play percussion instruments)||2.22
|String tech (Learning to play string instruments)||2.18
|Woodwind tech (Learning to play woodwind instruments)||2.18
Graduates were asked to identify which of the music business courses they felt should be required of the music business major. They were again reminded to consider each course as it relates to the industry in general rather than to their specific careers. Over 50% of the respondents felt the following courses should be required: introduction to music business; music business internship; a two-semester general survey of the music industry; music industry seminar (current events and issues); computer applications in music business; and music copyright, licensing, contracts, and publishing. See Table 2.
Table 2 Required Music Business Courses
Graduates were asked to indicate which music business
courses should be required.
|Number Responding Positively
||Percent Responding Positively|
|Introduction to music business (one-semester)||43
|Music business internship||43
|General survey of the music industry (two-semester)||42
|Music industry seminar (current events and issues)||38
|Computer applications in music business||33
|Music copyright, licensing, contracts, and publishing||23
|Artist management, concert promotion & production||17
|Arts administration (symphony, opera, venue, non-profits)||16
|Record industry operations||16
|Starting a business in the music industry||13
|Recording techniques (live and studio)||10
|Digital audio production||4
Percussion tech (Learning to play percussioninstruments)
|Brass tech (Learning to play brass instruments)||3
|String tech (Learning to play string instruments)||3
|Woodwind tech (Learning to play woodwind instruments)||3
|Advanced recording techniques||2
The business core includes required business courses as well as business courses offered as electives in the music business curriculum. Graduates were asked to rate the importance of offering each as a course for the music business major. They were instructed to consider each course as it relates to the industry in general rather than to their specific careers.
Respondents rated four business courses as “very important” (mean score of 4.00 or higher), including principles of marketing, business writing, introduction to computers, and management. See Table 3.
Table 3 Importance of Business Courses
Responses were entered on a Likert-type scale of 1 to 5 1 = Not Important, 3 = Important, 5 = Very Important (Mean = Average Score, Median = Middle Score, Mode = Most Frequent Score)
|Principles of marketing||4.47||5.00||5.00|
|Introduction to computers||4.33||5.00||5.00|
|Small business management||3.62||4.00||4.00|
Graduates were asked to identify which of the business courses they felt should be required of the music business major. They were again reminded to consider each course as it relates to the industry in general rather than to their specific careers. Over 50% of the respondents felt the following courses should be required: principles of marketing, accounting I, business writing, introduction to computers, macroeconomics, management, and professional selling. See Table 4.
Table 4 Required Business Courses
Graduates were asked to indicate which business courses should be required.
|Principles of marketing||38||84.44%|
|Introduction to computers||31||68.89%|
|Small business management||14||31.11%|
It is interesting to note the high evaluation of the importance of the various business courses. Graduates recognize that the music industry is business and having the appropriate preparation in business is extremely important. Likewise, having some understanding of the broader areas of business (marketing, accounting, business writing, economics, and management) is considered more important than some of the more specific content areas or more in-depth study of economics or accounting.
The music core includes courses required of all music majors, including the music business major. Graduates were asked to rate the importance of requiring each course of the music business major.
Respondents rated two music courses as “very important” (mean score of 4.00 or higher), including computer applications in music and understanding the language of music (Music Theory). See Table 5.
Table 5 Importance of Music Courses
Responses were entered on a Likert-type scale of 1 to 5 1 = Not Important, 3 = Important, 5 = Very Important (Mean = Average Score, Median = Middle Score, Mode = Most
|Computer applications in music||4.16||4.00||5.00|
|Understanding the language of music|
|Mastery of a principal instrument or voice|
|American popular music||3.49||3.00||3.00|
|Basic keyboard skills (Piano)||3.47||3.00||3.00|
|Music in world cultures||3.02||3.00||3.00|
|Music history, baroque through modern||2.89||3.00||2.00 & 3.00|
|Music history, Greeks through renaissance||2.64||3.00||2.00|
It is interesting to note how much lower the graduates rated the importance of the general music core. Graduates recognize the importance of understanding music and of being able to discuss music but they also recognize that adequate preparation in business and music business are important in preparing them for their employment.
At Western Illinois University, enough business and marketing classes are required of the music business major that students can complete a marketing minor if they take one additional marketing class as an elective. Graduates were asked how important it is that the curriculum continue to include the marketing minor. Respondents felt it was “very important” (mean score of 4.13) to continue to incorporate the marketing minor into the music business major.
Graduates were also asked to indicate what other minor they would recommend to music business majors. Of the 18 graduates (40%) who responded to this question, half recommended management as a minor.
After reviewing the curricula as outlined in the undergraduate catalogues of NAMBI and MEIEA institutional members, the programs and curricula of the six institutions visited, and the results of the survey completed by the Western Illinois University music business graduates, the following model music business curriculum was designed. By adjusting the balance between courses in music business, business, and music, the model can be adjusted to a Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts, or Bachelor of Science degree.
The music business core consists of required courses that include the traditional survey courses and internship. It also allows electives that permit students to gain experience in specialized areas of interest. The business core is similarly balanced between required surveys and specialized electives. Since every institution varies in the number of semester/quarter hours required for completion of the degree, credit hours have not been assigned, nor has the balance between courses in music business, business, and music been specified.
The Music Business Core would include the following required courses:
Music Business Electives would include the following courses as electives:
• Music Business Practicum (part-time internship experiences, repeatable)
The Business Core would include the following required courses:
Business Electives would include the following courses. Ideally, electives would be selected which would complete a complementary minor:
The Music Core would include the following required courses:
Designing a music business curriculum can be challenging, and curriculum review is a never-ending process, especially in a discipline which changes as quickly as does the music industry. Each institution must consider many factors when evaluating curricula starting with the focus and goals of its own program. In this instance, it was very important to review curricula from music business programs housed in music departments and whose emphasis is on preparing students for careers in the business side of the music industry. Also important in any curriculum review is to gather input from representatives of the industry itself. During this study, the decision was made to ask music business graduates from Western Illinois University to evaluate the model music business curriculum for three reasons. First, these graduates could supply the much-needed industry input since all are currently employed in the music industry or were employed in the industry during some point of their careers. Second, it was believed that music business graduates could more effectively evaluate the relevance of the coursework they completed during their college careers than could industry representatives not as familiar with music business curricula. Third, program changes can be effectively justified to administration and university curriculum committees when supported by data from program graduates.
A final step in revising a music business curriculum is in finding the balance between what NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) considers important (if the institution is NASM accredited), what the institution considers important, and what the graduates as representatives of the industry consider important. The model curriculum outlined above reflects these factors as they apply to the music business program at Western Illinois University.
Dr. Claudia McCain is Professor of Music and the Director of the Music Business program at Western Illinois University. She currently serves as President of the NAMM Affiliated Music Business Institutions (NAMBI) and Director of Curriculum for the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA).