LaConteau Williams planted a couple of seeds when she graduated with an online Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI) from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in May 2016.
She hopes to turn those seeds into a career in music marketing and having her five-year-old daughter one day following in her footsteps with her own college degree.
“I remember right before graduation I was trying on my cap, and she wanted to try it on, too,” said Williams, who is a single mother to Faith. “I took a picture with her wearing it. She was excited because this was her second time seeing me graduate — she was there when I got my bachelor’s degree. I definitely wanted to set an example.”
After Williams earned a communications degree in 2014, she returned to school after a short break and followed her passion.
“I always had an interest in music,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve always loved to do. I’m slightly musically inclined … ever since I was younger, I’ve always wanted to work in the music industry. I didn’t really have a clear idea on how to do it. So, I was browsing online and saw the University of Miami was offering that music business degree. I thought it would be a good idea.”
What’s in a Name?
One of the biggest selling points for Williams was the name recognition of the Frost School of Music.
“What was important to me as far as getting a degree in music business was when I would say the school’s name, it would have meaning, that the professors had experience and that it would be worthwhile,” she said. “You don’t just want to get a music business degree. You want to go somewhere where it holds some clout.”
Initially, Williams had planned to stay on the communications career course with her higher education.
“I was going to continue to go the full communications route and get a grad degree in public relations, but music is really my calling,” she said. “It’s something I love to do. You can’t really say no to the University of Miami. I think that it’s a great opportunity. When that door opened, I just kind of took it.”
Williams, who now lives in her home state of Pennsylvania, was in Atlanta while she was attending Frost School of Music online. Even with a full-time job and a brutal commute, she made everything work.
“I won’t lie and say it was necessarily easy,” she said. “I’m very blessed because my daughter is a really good kid. Traffic in Atlanta is horrible, so that added to my work time. I’d get home and help my daughter with her homework and cook. Then, toward the night hours when I put her to bed was usually when I would study and get my work done. It was kind of tiring, but that was the best way I could complete everything. I found it pretty manageable. I was happy when it was finished, but I was able to get it done.”
Two of the courses in the MBEI online degree program — Marketing and Promotion in the Entertainment Industry [MMI643] and Music Copyright Law [MMI 774] — gave Williams particularly strong insight into her future career.
“There are all of these different parts of music marketing that I never knew about,” she said. “The professor was really good about giving a lot of assignments. Even though they were hard, I enjoyed them a lot because it made it seem like we were actually in the class, continuously doing things.
“I enjoyed Copyright Law a lot because it basically laid down the foundation for everything we were going to learn in our future courses,” she said.
“The professor I had, Professor Rey Sanchez, was really great. We did video chats, and I just felt like we had a lot of information and were able to discuss a lot of things. The professors are there if you need help. Those were my two favorite courses.”
Graduation … and Beyond
Williams originally planned to attend the University of Miami on campus. She even moved to the Miami area the summer before she started the graduate degree program, but ended up moving to Atlanta, where she found a media-related job. She was eager to return to Miami for graduation day.
“Graduation was great,” she said. “It was good to come back and be on the campus and feel welcome and to tour the facilities. The professors and everybody were really nice and welcoming. I enjoyed it a lot.
“Hopefully, anybody going through the program will be open-minded to the fact that although it’s an online degree, there’s still a decent amount of work that’s required,” she said. “I think a person should have a passion for music. That way, even though they’re not in the classroom, and that can be a bit of a problem for some people, if you have a passion for it, you’re going to be dedicated to it. You have to go in with that mindset.
“You just have to be passionate about it because everything isn’t just about the fun parts about it, the marketing. There is a lot of stuff about royalty rates, copyright and licensing and all of those things that can really get pretty complex.”
Williams knows she made the right decision to follow her passion, which she believes is key to success in the program.
Learn more about the Frost online MBEI program.
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