Online MBA Programs in Music Business Management
Artistry and musicianship are not the only vital forces in the music industry. Leaders in this field must match talent and creativity with business smarts to manage the host of behind-the-scenes details and drive progress. Increasing complexities and challenges are fueling greater demand for music business professionals with advanced education. Gene Simmons of the legendary rock group KISS cautioned, “Take care of the business, or the business will take care of you.”1
An online MBA program in music business management can help give students an edge in an extremely competitive sector. This page is full of resources to help you determine how this specialized degree can work for you. Find out about the benefits of an online MBA in music business management, typical coursework, time frame for completion, potential career paths, and comparisons to similar degrees.
What is an Online MBA in Music Business Management?
An online MBA in music business management program is designed to teach high-level business concepts to individuals in the music industry. Many people in the field need the flexibility that online classes offer since traditional curricula typically can’t accommodate wildly varying schedules and workloads. Online MBA programs provide the same academic rigor of conventional classes to prepare graduates for leadership roles in talent acquisition, marketing, production, and other management positions.
Pursuing an MBA in music business management online can be an ideal career booster for people who want to impact the music world without necessarily being in the spotlight. This educational option gives students a solid footing in the music industry’s best practices and overarching business fundamentals. Music business management MBA students learn traditional and contemporary skills, including project management, accounting, finance, IT, quantitative analysis, and concepts unique to the music industry.
With an MBA in music business management, graduates are equipped with tools to influence the music industry in fulfilling roles. Some career options include booking agent, PR manager, music publisher, personal manager, and music director. As you consider an MBA in music business management, contemplate your long-term career path and assess any related benefits and drawbacks of pursuing this degree. The knowledge, skills, and networks from an MBA program can benefit anyone looking to make their mark on the music industry.
Online MBA in Music Business Management Curriculum
An online MBA curriculum for music business management is structured to enhance students’ acumen in managing people, resources, information, and operations in an ever-shifting industry. The goal is to educate new leaders who possess a keen insight into today’s music marketplace and the capacity to think beyond current parameters to move the industry forward.
Some common areas of study in music business management MBA programs include:
- Music business strategy
- Music marketing and promotion
- Ethical music business leadership
- Financial analysis pertaining to talent, distribution, and music enterprise
The business administration topics generally include:
- Leading in an organization
- Accounting and financial analysis
- Finance, economics, and decision making
- Marketing and strategy
- Business environment, innovations, and entrepreneurship
- Government impact on business
- Ethics, corporate culture, and social responsibility
- Operations management and technology
- MBA capstone
A look at some of the specialized components of MBA in music business management programs reveals the skills for innovation needed in the market for today and the future:
- Music Business Leadership and Ethics: Students explore characteristics of notable leaders and music industry leadership approaches and scenarios in this course. They apply ethical frameworks and decision-making approaches to cases that mirror the real world.
- Music Business Structure and Strategies: This course delves into the music business structure and how to create successful business models. It takes students through publishing and licensing, promotion, marketing, free music, creative revenue streams for musicians, and novel business opportunities.
- Music Business Finance: This class teaches students to apply financial analysis tools to leverage talent, fund new music businesses, and gauge the potential of music enterprises. It covers nontraditional music funding as well.
- Music Marketing Strategies: This class studies the emerging tools and technologies used to spur interest and revenue in music and teach them how to create a marketing plan.
An MBA with a concentration in music business management has some overlap with the curriculum of a master’s degree in the music business, but there are some significant differences. Although music business master’s degree programs vary among institutions, the typical course offerings are tailored to students with recent undergraduate music or music business degrees and little experience in the field. It’s common to see these courses in a Master of Music Business Management program:
- Music Industry History
- Music Industry Careers, Rights, and Income Streams
- Artist Management
- Analysis of Music Agreements
- Management of Live Performances
- Music Marketing, Branding, and Campaigns
- Developing Copyright Laws and Business Models
What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue With an Online MBA Specializing in Music Business Management?
Graduates of MBA programs with a music business management specialization can access various professional work opportunities outside the music industry. Regardless of the sector, businesses need skilled individuals with a firm grasp on business ethics, accounting and finance basics, and the ability to see the big picture. Earning an MBA with a concentration in music business management equips students to compete for influential, prestigious, and lucrative positions.
Among the countless career options for people with an MBA in music business management, some popular jobs for graduates include:
Also called song pluggers, music publishers mainly deal with copyright laws and acquiring financial backing for artists. These professionals sign songwriters to contracts, market the songwriters’ work to producers and sign or obtain established songwriters’ catalogs. Some music publishers form their own companies, while others work for sound recording companies and performing arts agencies. Depending on company structure, this position could lead to a senior manager, director, head of licensing, vice president, or CEO.
Typical tasks include:
- Signing songwriters to compose demos
- Helping songwriters obtain financial backing
- Pitching demos to labels and artists
- Pitching demos for use in TV, commercials, and film
- Negotiating licensure agreements regarding synchronization, reproduction, or public performance of certain musical pieces
- Acquiring and managing catalogs of reputable artists
Payscale.com reports that the average annual salary for music publishers is $55,0002. California, New York, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas have the highest employment level in this field. Although the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide specific data regarding this career, it projects a 4.4% increase 3 in overall job opportunities for producers and directors in the entertainment sector.
Booking agents negotiate contracts and schedule tours for artists. They work normal business hours but spend many evenings and weekends attending events and finalizing deals. The income potential varies depending on the genre of music, the number and popularity level of artists being booked, and experience. Other career titles include booking manager and booking representative.
Typical tasks include:
- Arranging personal appearances for artists
- Collaborating with talent buyers and promoters on tours
- Securing supporting artists
- Assessing developing artists
- Meeting with the artist’s and booking agency’s staff
According to the BLS, the average yearly salary for agents of artists and performers is $90,9304. California, New York, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas have the highest employment levels in this career. The BLS projects a 4.4% increase in job opportunities for entertainment-focused agents and business managers.
Personal or band managers help artists with representation, career direction, marketing, corporate sponsorships, and merchandising. Much of their work focuses on technology and marketing. Like many music business professionals, personal managers are often on call around the clock and can expect to be especially busy during tours and promotional events.
Job duties include:
- Developing marketing strategies for album releases, tours, and merchandise
- Managing social media
- Collaborating with producers, booking agents, record label representatives, brand management specialists, and lawyers
- Helping artists maintain focus and competitiveness
According to CareersinMusic.com, regular salaries for personal managers are rare. These professionals are typically paid 10-20% of an artist’s earnings, which vary widely depending on the artist5. New York, California, Nevada, and Tennessee have the highest employment levels in this career. The BLS foresees a 4.4% increase in job opportunities for such agents.
Public Relations Manager
Public relations managers strive to maintain and enhance the public image of artists. They devise and implement programs and campaigns to promote their clients, monitoring the efficacy of those initiatives. These professionals may manage social media and represent their clients in front of the media.
Tasks may include:
- Coordinating marketing efforts with other music business managers
- Developing and publishing favorable content for clients
- Assisting clients in communicating effectively with the public
- Reaching out to the press and handling media inquiries on behalf of clients
According to Payscale.com, the average PR manager’s yearly salary is $65,5236. The BLS projects that public relations specialists’ employment will grow at 6%7 as more clients seek expertise in using social media. However, candidates should expect heavy competition for opportunities.
Artist and Repertoire Director
The artist and repertoire director oversees the department that finds and signs new music artists. They match new talent with musical collaborators and guide the label’s musical direction. These professionals also oversee the department’s budget and staff management, and they may act as the manager for major clients. Other career titles include manager and executive.
- Securing new artists and matching them with songwriters, photographers, producers, and other music industry professionals to formulate the entire marketing package
- Managing staff of coordinators, administrators, and artist relations and development representatives.
- Reporting to the VP and CEO of the record label
CareersinMusic.com says that the average yearly salary for directors is $73,9148. New York, California, Nevada, and Tennessee have the highest employment in this career. The BLS projects a 4.4% increase in demand for agents and business managers of musical artists.
Music Business Accountant
Music business accountants help artists and music industry organizations with their financial statements. These professionals assist with tax returns, royalty statements, financing applications, contracts, and business plans. Tour accountants devise an initial tour budget, verify expenditures, and oversee a collection of income on the road.
- Performing financial calculations
- Filing tax returns
- Reviewing royalty statements and contracts
- Creating and managing budgets
- Generating income forecasts
- Ensuring compliance with company policies and applicable laws
According to CareersinMusic.com, music business accountants get paid by the project. The BLS doesn’t provide specific data on this position but reports that accountants, in general, earn an average of $70,500 per year9. The states with the highest employment levels include California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. The BLS’s job outlook for accountants is 6% growth10.
Music producers help artists create recorded music in the studio. Producers also work with technical professionals such as mixers and studio engineers to complete projects. These professionals normally devise a working budget and schedule to keep recording sessions running smoothly and efficiently.
- Managing and coordinating projects throughout production
- Attending production meetings
- Collaborating with designers, sound engineers, and directors
- Creating and communicating overall plans or concepts
Payscale.com states that the average annual salary for a music producer is $50,96611. New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Georgia lead in employing these workers. The BLS anticipates that producers’ demand across the entertainment industry will grow at 5%12.
Should I Get an Online MBA in Music Business Management?
Your career goals and level of self-motivation are the primary factors to consider when pursuing advanced education. Institutions offer this specialization for people who are in music and want an in-depth knowledge of business concepts. Ponder these questions as you decide whether to enroll in an MBA in music business management program.
Online MBA in Music Business Management vs. an Online MBA in Management
Any MBA program covers similar topics in its core curriculum. However, a music business management MBA offers an intense focus on the music industry’s issues from a leader’s perspective. On the other hand, a management MBA has a general management focus that could apply to most industries. A music business management degree program gives students the knowledge and networks critical for success in an industry largely run by referrals.
Online MBA in Music Business Management vs. MA in Music Business
A Master of Arts in Music Business may be a suitable option to advance your music-related career. A master’s program in music business prepares students for positions in their fields as an MBA would but with less emphasis on high-level management principles. Further, students in a Master of Music Business program don’t typically need the business experience that most MBA in Music Business Management programs prefer.
Frequently Asked Questions
While researching online MBA programs, it’s vital to know that the credentials you want will match your career path. Some common questions about MBA programs in music business management are:
Are online MBA programs always offered at accredited institutions?
DiscoverBusiness.us only lists programs with regional accreditation from a CHEA-recognized body and national accreditation from the AACSB, ACBSP or IACBE. All online MBA programs are different, but the ones you find here are all fully accredited.
What benefits can I expect from obtaining an online MBA in music business management?
Drummer and composer Barry van Zyl have taken advantage of his online music business management MBA’s alumni network to launch a company. He has found the confidence to converse with industry leaders, noting that his “ability to analyze, process, and manage data has grown”13. Previous and current music power brokers eager to prepare the next generation of industry leaders support many of these degree programs.
Is it better to obtain my MBA in a classroom setting instead of online?
Regularly attending a classroom and facing a professor helps many students focus and commit more to their learning. Many music professionals have erratic, demanding schedules that don’t allow adherence to traditional college semesters. If you’re strong in time management and self-discipline skills to study and complete work independently, pursuing an MBA online may be right for you.
How long does it take to earn an online MBA in music business management?
Many accredited MBA programs in music business management online can be completed in less than three years. Some accelerated programs offer options to finish within 15 months. Shorter programs generally require a full-time commitment.