Can You Learn the Music Business Online? A First-Hand Student Account.

can you learn the music business onlineDo you need a degree to work in the music industry?

It isn’t a must-have for many of the careers in the music business, but it can be beneficial. While top music producers and musicians like Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin may have bypassed the traditional college experience, others like John Mayer and Quincy Jones refined their talents with the aid of additional teaching.

Berklee Online has been offering education through their website for over a decade. In 2014, they launched degree programs allowing students to get a degree from one of the top contemporary music schools in the world, from the comfort of their home.

You might be wondering if it’s worth it, or what it’s like to be enrolled in these courses.

Well, I am a music business degree student coming to the end of my educational career with Berklee Online and I want to share my first-hand experience with you.

How to Learn The Music Business Online

There are three ways that you can study with Berklee Online: Individual courses, certificates, and degrees.

Individual courses: Do you want to take a single songwriting course? No problem.

Certificates: The next step up from individual courses, these programs are multi-course packages in an area of your interest (such as guitar or music theory). Certificates consist of 3-12 total courses.

Degrees: Bachelor’s degrees through Berklee Online are fully accredited and require you to earn 120 total credits. To get a degree through Berklee Online, you must apply and be accepted to your major of choice.

Students from all of these offerings end up in classes together. No matter what you choose, the quality of instruction and the experience is similar.

What are the Pros and Cons of Berklee Online?

Your experience will vary based on your program of choice, professors, and classmates, but here are some things I have noted.

Pro: Great courses

There are classes that you can take with Berklee Online that you won’t find at most other accredited colleges. For example, I took a class about the history of rock music as a general education course – and it was fantastic.

One look at their offerings will get you excited about the courses you can choose from.

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Additionally, the classes are tailored to music industry interests. You won’t be taking a run of the mill marketing or law course. You’ll take music marketing and legal aspects of the music industry. You aren’t getting a degree for the sake of having a piece of paper, you’ll earn a degree that is actually relevant to the work you want to do.

Con: Limited options

That said, the options are a bit more limited for some degree requirements. For example, every student must take at least four math and natural/physical sciences courses. At the time this is being written, there are only six options or less for each program.

You will likely find yourself taking some courses you won’t be enthused about or ones that don’t directly relate to your career path.

Pro: Networking opportunities

You will be in class with both professors and students who are already accomplished within the industry.

If you want to pick the brain of someone who is already doing the things you dream of doing, you can. Berklee Online provides you with the opportunity to start a conversation with them.

Con: Can be difficult to collaborate

To effectively network, it is helpful to have projects that involve collaboration. Unfortunately, many of the classes I’ve taken didn’t require a lot of interaction between students.

Since you can’t exactly ask a peer to lunch, your chances to connect with your classmates can be limited.

To take full advantage of the Berklee community, you have to be proactive and grab onto the chances you do have to network as they appear in your courses. Alternatively, you can reach out to your classmates via social media.

Pro: Learn from anywhere

As long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you’re good to go!

I’ve taken my class work on work trips, vacation, or even to a local cafe for a change of pace. This has allowed me to pursue employment and travel opportunities that aren’t possible with on campus education.

Con: Discipline required

Being an online student means that you don’t have to go to class, and you can read over your course work in pajamas. That’s great for some, but it’s not for everyone.

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If you are unable to submit your work on time, you will be penalized. There is also required participation activities in the form of exercises and discussions. It is crucial that you don’t fall behind.

Take it from me, it is not easy to keep up in courses like these if you are not diligent.

Wrapping up

Studying with Berklee Online has been an invaluable experience. The courses I’ve taken have equipped me with industry specific knowledge that I wouldn’t have at this stage of my life otherwise.

Additionally, I have been able to work with artists and companies all over the country while getting my degree. This is all because I wasn’t tied to a campus.

So, will studying Berklee Online give you the key to success? It depends on your learning style and the path you want to take.

The team at Berklee Online gives you all the resources you need to build a great career in the music industry. That said, you still need to be ready to put those resources to good use.

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Can you Learn the Music Business Online
Berklee online Student Aly Goulet gives her first-hand impression of whether or not you can learn the music business online
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