Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
Perhaps the most comprehensive contemporary music school in the world, it is no surprise that Berklee has one of the strongest music business programs in the country.
Many students first come to Berklee to become performance majors, mostly in contemporary performance or jazz.
What we often see is as students progress in their classes and begin to understand just how important an advanced understanding of the music business is, they often opt to dual major in both performance and music business.
Speaking of which, Berklee is one of the top choices for contemporary music students who wish to dual major in complementary music areas. Other popular double majors include film scoring and music business, music production and music business, and so on.
Outside of the Music Business Bachelor’s degree, another program focused on the entrepreneurial aspect of musicianship at Berklee is the Professional Music Major.
This program could be best described as a design-your-own-music-major with an emphasis in business. Students work closely with 1-on-1 faculty advisors in designing a curriculum helping a student achieve a specific outcome upon graduation.
Alumni of the Professional Music program include Esperanza Spalding, Grammy-winning jazz bassist, Derek Sivers, who later went on to found the mega-successful company CDBaby, and John Blackwell, a former drummer for Prince.
New York University Clive Davis Institute (New York, NY)
Named after one of the great music business executives of our time, NYU’s Clive Davis is an incubator of future songwriters, performers, producers, executives, and journalists.
At the core of NYU’s Clive Davis program is a laser-like focus on initiative. The curriculum is all about entrepreneurship, encouraging students to take their passions to the next level not just on an artistic plane, but also for the purposes of making a living.
To this end, the Clive Davis students create a comprehensive plan for a music business venture by the end of their senior year. Some genres of project that students have undertaken include start a record label, a production company, or a venture combining technology with music.
Clive Davis regularly invites top music industry professionals to work with students in the program. One famous example occurred in 2016, when mega-famous producer Pharrell listened to student Maggie Rogers in a masterclass, which resulted the beginning of her own successful music career.
One of the most selective music business programs, NYU Clive Davis accepts approximately 15% of applicants into its program every year.
Syracuse University Bandier Program (Syracuse, NY)
Bandier is the ultimate music business intensive for the undergraduate student.
A program admitting just 25 or so students every year, the program was initially funded by Sony Chairman Martin Bandier, who graduated himself from Syracuse over 50 years ago in 1962.
Characterized by a close-knit atmosphere of people uniquely interested in the “behind-the-scenes” of music, Bandier is known for directly assisting students with placement with internships and jobs in the music industry.
In fact, every student must complete three internships upon graduation. No other school can claim to assist students in gaining as much career experience in the real world as Syracuse.
This is accomplished not only through industry connections, but also through the institution’s extensive alumni network of professionals in the music industry.
One of the hallmarks of the program is the opportunity to intern for a semester at a Los Angeles based media company. According to their website, faculty at the school ensure students gain an internship when accepted into the LA Semester program.
Another desirable aspect of the program is its David M. Rezak Music Business Lecture Series. Inviting top music industry professionals, this lecture series offers an opportunity for students and top professionals to engage in challenging ideas facing the music industry today.
It is important to note that Syracuse Bandier is not a performance-based program, unlike some other schools on this list that share emphases in both business and performance.
As such, it is best suited for the student serious about diving straight into the world of music business.
This is our take on the top Music Business programs in the country. Any schools you feel should also be included here? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image by Diliff via Wikimedia Commons