How Technology Shapes Music Education

As technology develops, music education curriculums are forced to transform or become irrelevant. Several music schools have integrated business requirements into their programs, which is necessary in an increasingly entrepreneurial climate. In their annual look at musical education, Billboard Magazine features leading music business programs in North America and interviews key education experts about how student perspectives are changing.

When questioned about how current students are different than those from prior years, Beverly Keel, Chairman of the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, explains,  “Our curriculum is being shaped by the industry’s rise of the entrepreneur. When I was in college, we all wanted to work for major labels, publishers or magazines. Today, students dream of starting their own businesses.”

A large part of the increase in the “entrepreneurial spirit” of students is the development of technology and the increase to access that it provides.  Co-host and Creator of “Pensado’s Place”, Dave Pensado, explains, “If a person can have access so inexpensively, he or she can also become self-taught. So curriculums have to take that into account…” Pensado suggests that old methods don’t work. “You can’t spend a whole year teaching someone how to EQ vocals anymore. These schools have to understand this new generation’s culture and mores…Curriculums that don’t move at a fast pace will be left behind.”

Some schools, such as New York University, recognized early on that the music industry is rapidly changing. They have tailored their program to attract innovative students who already know what career direction they are going in. Chairman of the Clive Davis Institute of Recording Music at NYU explains, “I think that with each passing year the kids get smarter – they’re surer of what they want to do, they’re more focused on their career. To get into a program such as ours, you really have to decide at 15, 16 that this is what you want to do. With those kids, who are very certain that they want a career in the music business, it’s a very focused group.”

So where can a music student find the kind of business-focused music education that is necessary to reach his or her goals? Here are a few opportunities:

Appalachian State University (Anderson, Ind.) Example courses: “Music Management” , “Record Company Administration”

Bay State College (Boston, MA) Example courses: “Event Management” , “Entertainment Law and Ethics”

College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY) Example courses: “Artist Management”, “Arts, Aesthetics, and Law”

University of Colorado Denver (Denver, CO) Example course: “Music Business in the Digital Age”

New York University (New York, NY) Example courses: “Strategic Music and Branding”, “Artist & Audiences”

University of Memphis (Memphis, TN) Example course: “International Music Business”


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