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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Music Industry FAQs

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The Music Industry (MI) major is exciting, dynamic and challenging. Our students have found opportunities in marketing, venue management, retail, music promotion, music publishing and other areas. With training and passion, you can, too. Please consider these FAQs carefully before requesting a conversation with a faculty advisor.


1) Do I have to be a performing, reading musician to succeed in MI?

Yes. You will be evaluated on music reading skills, theory, notation, performance, and other aspects of professional musicianship. You will perform with ensembles. You will take courses and lessons to assist your development, but it's very challenging to succeed from a "cold start"—with no background in formal music training—even if you have natural talent and a good ear. If you need extra help, we can recommend a private study plan that can get you started before you arrive at the University. You may need a 5-year program to succeed.

2) How difficult is the major?

Plan to be a serious student. You will be in music classes with students who are full-time music majors, you will be in business classes with students who are full-time business majors, and you must learn some basic music technology skills, too. When you graduate, you could be a "triple-threat," but it takes dedication to develop all three areas.

3) How much hands-on experience will I get?

KeyboardsPlenty! As a performer, you will have lessons on your instrument plus seven semesters of ensemble experience (four semesters in the Audio Production Specialist Program). On the business side, you will start with a core of music business courses that stress real-world application and you will also have a set of practical experiences, projects, and an internship that will develop your skills for handling different tasks, clients and situations.

4) I gotta be me! Can I customize the program to meet my needs and interests?

Certainly. In the Bachelor of Science in Music Industry (BSMI) degree you will have a range of business minors to choose from, to help you meet your personal goals. In your ensemble work, you can choose from a variety of musical styles. And in your internship and practical MI projects (see 3 above) you are free to go in almost any direction you choose, provided your proposals meet the rigor appropriate for this degree.

5) I want to be a record engineer-producer. Will a MI degree help?

You should choose the BSMI–Audio Production Specialist degree program. Our other program is not designed to give you all the digital software/hardware training that you need to succeed as an engineer. If this is your goal, we should discuss it with you during your first semester. Be advised that being a record producer is a very challenging goal – see point 6 below.

6) I want to work at a major record label, or on my favorite artist's team. Is that possible?

GuitaristAnything is possible, but these specific results are unlikely. The major-label record business is undergoing difficulties, with little chance of that changing soon. But the industry is re-inventing itself in a very exciting way, possibly with small labels ("indies") leading the change. If you have the spirit of an entrepreneur, you might be able to help shape that new direction. There are more fulfilling opportunities than ever in the music business (as opposed to the record business). Live concerts, publishing, promotion, marketing, licensing, web design, audience building, fundraising, social media, management and many other areas are quite viable. We will help qualify you for any of these pursuits.

7) What if I don't read music? What are my options?

Your best option is a five-year BSMI approach, where the first year is devoted primarily to developing music literacy and music performance skills. Those skills are essential to prepare for auditioning for admission into music studies in the second year. We would also suggest off-campus private lessons, starting prior to enrollment.

8) Sounds great! What's the next step?

Please explore the MI website thoroughly at, especially the "Getting Started Guide." Afterwards, meet with an advisor, if needed. Then, if MI seems right for you, enroll in MUS 185—Foundations of Music Industry—a great place to start!

Dr. Tonya Butler
Professor of Music Industry Studies