New Certificate Options in the Music Business

Those involved in the music industry know that success depends largely on their ability to take advantage of every opportunity possible. This is true in all areas of the industry, from publishing to performing. If you are looking to develop your career in the music industry, a good understanding of the business behind it can help immensely. The study of music business can help you turn your passion and aspirations into concrete, actionable plans, based on sound business principles and current, relevant industry trends.

Yet, enrolling in a long-term graduate program may not be feasible for everyone. Working professionals, in particular, require flexible programs that will enable them to keep working. As an alternative to traditional music business school, the Frost School of Music offers four graduate certificate programs in Music Business and Entertainment Industries (MBEI):

  • Music Business Fundamentals.
  • Music Rights Administration and Licensing.
  • Legal Aspects of the Music Business.
  • Music Entrepreneurship.

Each program is tailored to give music professionals the business smarts they need to succeed in their career of choice.

The following are descriptions of the four graduate certificate program specializations, but first, a note on the importance of understanding music copyright law.

Music Copyright Law

Each of the four specializations includes Music Copyright Law as the first of three required courses. So, why is copyright law fundamental to the study of any aspect of the music business? Basically, to know how to make money in the music industry, one has to understand music copyright law.

Music copyright law protects creators of music and their intellectual property (the music they create). Copyright law governs how intellectual property copyright ownership is defined as well as how income from copyrighted material is distributed and what can be done if someone infringes on that copyright. It goes into detail about how copyright ownership can be assigned, licensed and much more. Understanding the basics of copyright law is a necessary part of comprehending the economics of the music industry.

The following list of Frost’s four specialized certificate programs highlights their key offerings:

1. Music Business Fundamentals

Beyond music copyright law, this specialization includes coursework on international music publishing. A large portion of current music industry revenue is made from publishing — making money from music through the royalties earned when that music is used by someone other than the songwriter or copyright owner, such as in a TV show, movie, radio show or theatrical performance.

The fundamentals certificate program also includes the study of commodifying and capitalizing on recorded music. Although the physical sale of music as CDs, tapes, vinyl and other mediums seems somewhat a thing of the past, it still accounts for nearly 40 percent of all global music industry revenue, so it should not be overlooked.

2. Music Rights Administration and Licensing

Building on the study of copyright law and music publishing, this specialization goes further into the advanced study of publishing by delving into the details of international licensing wherein the copyright owner (songwriter or publisher) licenses the use of their intellectual property in exchange for negotiated fees.

3. Legal Aspects of the Music Business

Coursework in this concentration augments the study of copyright law with other legal matters involved in the music business, namely agreements and contracts drawn between different entities and what those agreements represent. This course of study focuses on legal issues faced in both the recorded and live entertainment sides of the industry.

4. Music Entrepreneurship

In this certificate specialization, students learn the many different avenues for making a living as a musician or music business entrepreneur. Students learn financial management combined with diversifying income streams through activities like teaching, composing and performing. Other coursework explores marketing and promotion. Students learn to assess target markets and demand, accordingly designing and executing successful promotion campaigns using effective, current technologies and communication methods.

Whether local DJ, rock star or label executive, professionals in the music industry need to know how their business works. By earning a Frost Online MBEI certificate in your chosen specialization, you can develop a working knowledge of music business matters like copyright law, publishing, licensing, contracts and effective technology-based marketing. This knowledge can help you make the educated and informed decisions you can build a successful career on.

Learn more about the Frost online MBEI certificates.


United States Copyright Office: Copyright and the Music Marketplace

Public Knowledge: Copyright Tutorial for Musicians

IFPI: An Explosion in Global Music Consumption Supported by Multiple Platforms

Houston Chronicle: Why Are Copyright Laws Important?

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