Music Business (BA)
In the Music Business bachelor’s degree program at Columbia College Chicago, you’ll learn about the professional teams behind your favorite bands, concerts, festivals, albums, and mixtapes. You’ll learn how music is monetized, licensed, and distributed, and you’ll sign, release, and market emerging artists on our student-run record label.
In Chicago, you will have plenty of opportunities to intern and work at labels, agencies, studios, and promotion companies. Whether you’re an artist or a leader supporting the work of others, you’ll be immersed in music business from day one. You’ll put your skills to work scouting talent, distributing music, promoting artists, and marketing events through Columbia’s practicum courses, which include student-run rock and hip-hop record labels, a music publishing group, and a music venue.
In the Music Business program, you’ll choose a concentration that allows you to focus on your area of interest and gain relevant experience in your chosen field.
Recorded Music and Publishing
This concentration will give you an understanding of how music is made, from the artist’s creation of it to fan consumption. It will prepare you to work in the evolving markets of recorded music songwriting/production. You’ll learn about the business side and the legal aspects of music company operations, music licensing and distribution, and music marketing.
Live and Touring
If you’ve thought about being a tour manager or running your own music club or venue, this concentration is for you. Learn what’s involved in operating a music venue and taking a live show on the road. This concentration focuses on all aspects of the live music business and covers promotion, touring, live events, and event sponsorship.
Managing the careers of bands, producers, and musicians is no small feat. Learn about the responsibilities of artist management, including management of record deals, live performances, sponsorship opportunities, brand development, and artists’ business affairs.
You’ll apply the skills you learn in the classroom to real-life projects in Columbia’s practicum courses. Working at our rock record label or our hip-hop record label, you’ll scout and develop real artists. Or, you can focus on digital distribution and promotion. If you choose the Live and Touring concentration, you’ll have the chance to work at a local club or run a day-long outdoor festival.
In your practicum courses, you’ll have different responsibilities, like logistics, marketing, production, general management, and talent buying. If you take one of these practicums during the spring semester, you’ll have the opportunity to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, where students plan and execute a day-long music showcase.
Music Business Assistant Professor Alex Fruchter is co-owner of Closed Sessions, Chicago’s premiere independent hip-hop record label. He also performs as DJ RTC.
Faculty members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the classroom. They have worked as producers, musicians, label owners, talent scouts, licensing and finance executives, and digital analysts. They’ll be your mentors and help you learn to network so you can gain a strong foothold in the industry before you graduate.
Chicago: A Music Hub
Chicago brings hundreds of acts to concerts and festivals every year. The city is home to some of the biggest music festivals in the world—Lollapalooza (which takes place across the street from campus), Spring Awakening, Riot Fest, and Pitchfork—and countless small clubs and bars that host open mic nights and underground shows where you can discover your next favorite artist.
Chicago is home to a range of independent labels, music venues, and talent agencies.
Our students intern at local labels and major record companies that include:
- Bloodshot Records
- Thrill Jockey
- Atlantic Records
- Bad Boy Worldwide
- Saddle Creek Records
They join management, booking, and licensing teams at:
- The Billions Corporation
- Biz 3
- Paradigm Talent Agency
They intern and work at local venues such as:
- Lincoln Hall
- Thalia Hall
- The Hideout
Study Away Opportunities
Columbia offers many opportunities to study away for a week, a semester, or an entire year.
Semester in LA (SiLA) is a 15-week immersion program, during which you’ll intern 20 hours a week in the field and learn from industry professionals in classes taught on a historic Hollywood studio lot. Learn more about SiLA.
You can also take shorter trips with faculty, like a guided trip to the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival in Austin, where you will participate in the Music Industry track (a conference about the music industry) and present an artist showcase.
If you’re interested in studying abroad, we have international exchange programs all over the world. You can study the music business in Germany in a semester-long exchange program with the PopAkademie University or participate in an international band and business camp for one week. In this exchange program, you will apply your music business knowledge with students from schools across Europe.
“I’m making sure that my guests are having a good time. Lots of running around the venue or festival site, and then doing the same thing all over again the next day.”
-Anjel Lopez ’15
Touring Production & VIP Coordinator for artists including Kidz Bop, Lana Del Rey, and Guns N' Roses
Music Business alumni work at record labels, music venues, and production companies in a variety of roles.
- Weston Pagano ’17 is an associate music producer at Leo Burnett, a globablly active advertisement agency based in Chicago.
- Patrick VanWagoner ’13 is a talent buyer at Chicago music venues Lincoln Hall and Schubas.
- Tiffany Reiner ’16 is a product manager, an archivist, and an intern coordinator at Thrill Jockey Records, a Chicago label that signs indie, punk, and metal bands.
- Ryan Cunningham ’13 is a publicist at Biz 3 Publicity, a music PR and management firm that has represented artists such as Daft Punk, Lauryn Hill, and Skrillex.
- Kate Begani ’08 is an agent at Paradigm Talent Agency, which has offices in major cities across America and in London and Toronto.
Jobs in Music Business
Wondering what you can do with a degree in
- Artist Manager
- Tour Manager
- Concert Promoter
- Talent Scout
- Publishing, Music Licensing, and Royalties
- Public Relations
- Sponsorship and Branding
- Event Coordinator
- Box Office Manager
- Stage Manager
Check out other programs in Business and Entrepreneurship:
Many Music Business majors also pursue a minor. Popular minors include: