|Berklee College of Music||Massachusetts|
|Full Sail University||Florida|
|The Los Angeles Film School||California|
The music industry generated around $51.5 billion dollars in 2018, with $19.6 billion generated in the U.S. alone. “While other countries are beginning to gain significant influence within the industry,” reports Statista, “there is no denying that the U.S. market is the biggest.” In this growing, yet competitive market, not only will music production graduates find growth and stability, they will also find a range of music production-focused careers such as music producer (also record producer or track producer), live sound engineer, recording engineer, mix engineer, mastering engineer, sound (audio) technician, recording studio manager, sound designer, digital audio editor, and many others.
For those looking to break into the industry in any area, the first step is to earn a degree from an accredited college that many would consider to be among the best. Besides accreditation, the best schools with music production degrees will:
- Have a solid reputation for producing professionals who are successful in their respective music careers
- Offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers the most in-demand areas of music production
- Provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the industry through experiential learning experiences such as internships, externships, and job simulations
- Have faculty who are active in the music industry
- Have an active career center with a notable placement rate
Some of the best schools with music production degrees are also located in or near major music centers such as New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Memphis, Austin, and Chicago, to name a few. While location is important, whether students choose an online, hybrid or campus program, they still place a high value on flexibility and convenience.
To provide you with the most flexible options, we’ve identified below some of the “Best” online schools for aspiring music producers. The schools offer everything from an Advanced Professional Certificate in Music Production and Technology to a Master of Music in Music Production. The schools on our list appear in alphabetical order, beginning with Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in 1945, Berklee College of Music offers degree programs in Boston, Massachusetts, Valencia, Spain, and online. The school, which serves nearly 6,300 students, has both faculty and alumni whom have been recognized with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. To date, 121 Berklee alumni have received 285 Grammy Awards. Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Paula Cole, Aimee Mann, and Steve Berkowitz are just a few.
Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Berklee offers a wide range of online programs at all levels for aspiring music producers. Degree options include a Master of Music in Music Production and BPS degrees in Music Production, Electronic Music Production and Sound Design, and Songwriting and Producing. The BPS program also offers an Interdisciplinary Music Studies Option that allows students to create their own major to align with their personal career goals, and an Undeclared Option for new and entering students who are not yet ready to declare their major.
Per the school, students in the BPS in Music Production will “gain an expert-level education in creating and producing music directly from Berklee's accomplished faculty. Throughout this program, you will learn to multitrack record, overdub, edit, and mix music in a variety of styles using complex digital audio systems.” Electronic Music Production and Sound Design students will “apply core studio technologies and techniques to electronic music and sound design projects, including recording, editing, and mixing.” All BPS programs require 120 credits to graduate.
The 36 credit hour Master of Music in Music Production “combines the most creative, innovative music production techniques with the power of DAW-based music technology tools.” The program “provides a rigorous training in advanced recording, mixing, and mastering, in addition to focused work on critical areas such as vocal production, audio for visual media, and business sustainability for independent producers.”
Berklee also offers Advanced Professional Certificates in Music Production Technology, Writing and Producing Music, Electronic Music Production and Sound Design, General Music Studies, and Music Production using Pro Tools, as well as Professional Certificates in:
- Ableton Live
- Advanced Music Production
- Composing and Producing Electronic Music
- Game Audio Design
- Live Sound Production, Logic, Music Production
- Pro Tools
- Production and General Music Studies
- Sampling and Sound Design for Electronic Music
Advanced Certificate programs require 8-12 courses (24-36 credit hours). Professional Certificates are 3-5 courses (9-12 credit hours).
All Berklee degree students will have the opportunity to gain real world, hands-on experiential learning through an internship and/or study in Spain. In Berklee’s Spain Summer Study Abroad program, “students immerse themselves in one of three areas: music production and technology, music and entertainment business, or film scoring”
All classes are taught by Berklee faculty from the Valencia and Boston campuses. “The state-of-the-art technological resources of the Valencia campus give students a dynamic and intimate environment in which to experience an enriching selection of courses and to study with leading artists and professors.” Students may study in Spain for three or six weeks.
Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Established in 1979 as Full Sail Productions, Full Sail University offers arts, entertainment, media and technology programs to 15,000 students across 210 acres of campus space, including 110+ studios and labs. Around 93 program options lead to an associate's, bachelor’s, or master's degree. Among these programs is a BS in Music Production that takes 29 months to complete, online.
Per the school, the program is “designed to provide a thorough and comprehensive understanding of music creation and production. After learning foundational concepts such as music theory and composition, you’ll explore an array of complex procedures and applications used in the music production industry.” Coursework ranges from digital audio principles and digital workstation technology to advanced audio production and engineering techniques.
Sample courses for the program include:
- Audio Arts in the Entertainment and Media Industries
- Audio Engineering Techniques
- Audio Production for Media
- Audio Workstations
- Creative Presentation
- Fundamentals of Music
- Fundamentals of Music Business
- Game Music Composition
- History of Recorded Music
- Music Genres
- Popular Culture in Media
- Psychology of Play
- Recording Principles
- Sequencing Technologies
- Topics in Music Theory
Students will also complete seven “Project and Portfolio” courses worth three credits each including Project and Portfolio I: Audio Arts, and Project and Portfolio II-VII: Music Production.
These unique Project and Portfolio courses combine “hands-on learning experiences with summative and formative portfolio assessments.” The courses are taken in addition to an internship, which can be pursued after the student has successfully completed 50% of the required credit hours for the BS program.
Full Sail University is Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and licensed by the Commission for Independent Education (CIE), Florida Department of Education. The ACCSC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.
The Los Angeles Film School, Hollywood, California
The Los Angeles Film School (LA Film School) was founded in 1999. Located at 6363 Sunset Boulevard in the original RCA building, the school serves more than 3,000 students enrolled in Animation, Audio Production, Entertainment Business, Film, Graphic Design and Music Production programs. Among the school’s Film programs is an AS in Digital Filmmaking that can be completed 100% online. The program is delivered through LA Films Learning Management System, which is a secure, web-based multimedia platform, accessible 24 hours a day.
Offered through LA Recording School (a division of LA Film), the school says that the programs “hands-on curriculum presents comprehensive courses which focus on music theory, composition, digital music production and music recording as well as mixing and mastering for various media.” The program also highlights courses that focus on music marketing and business concepts. Sample courses for the 60 credit hour program include:
- Digital Literacy
- Musical Listening Identification
- Music Composition and Programming
- Sequencing Technologies
- Songwriting and Development
- Advanced Music Composition and Programming
- Digital Recording Principles
- Music Production for Media
- Creative Presentation
- Mixing Concepts and Techniques
- Advanced Production and Industry Skills
- Music Business Essentials
- Transmedia Design
- Genre-Based Production
- Creative Writing
Courses for the program are taught by “a team of award-winning, experienced entertainment business veterans and highly-qualified academic educators who teach between projects or make the College their home base.”
All AS students will receive “a MacBook Pro with Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Ableton Live and an Auralia/Musition bundle, along with a midi keyboard and external hard drive, so you’ll be ready to produce your music, wherever inspiration strikes.” Students will also have access to the school’s analog and digital studio labs where they will “log real time on industry-standard consoles, working with the same gear that the pros use.”
Other program highlights include discussions with industry leaders, networking opportunities with peers on discussion boards, and the opportunity to create real-world projects to showcase.
The AS in Music Production at LA Film can be completed in 18 months. Graduates of the program have landed positions at Allure Hollywood, Atlantic, Benchmark Sound Services, DreamWorks, the 15th Latin Grammy Awards, SKEE TV, and more.
The Los Angeles Film School is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
“Global Music Report 2017: Annual State of the Industry.” IFPI.org, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), 2017. Web. 04 Feb. 2019.
“U.S. Music – Statistics & Facts.” Statista, The Statistics Portal, Statista, Inc., 2018. Web. 05 Feb. 2019.