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Higher Education: What’s Right for You?

Although the deadline for applying to conservatoires and music colleges has passed, the closing date for university applications through UCAS (UCAS.com) is the 15th January 2018.

This gives plenty of time for potential applicants to consider whether they want to study at university, and if so, which university and which course best suits them.

Alex Baxter, Programme Leader Music Technology Programmes at the University of Hertfordshire advises:

The best degree courses expose their students to the huge range of connected areas which make up music technology as a whole – including those that students may not know even exist when they start their course.  Industry accredited degrees highlight that the broader industry sees the course content as being relevant to current industry practice, and this also offers excellent opportunities for industry input, and live projects where students’ developing techniques can be applied.  Universities which foster collaboration opportunities between courses (ie music technology students working with film & TV and animation students) offer that great extra dimension, as does the opportunity to study abroad or take a work placement.

UCAS offer 1,763 courses with ‘music’ in the title. These range from BMus(Hons) and BA(Hons) in Music to courses in Music Production, Songwriting, Music Performance, Community Music, Music Psychology, Music Technology, Music Composition, Music Business, Musical Theatre, Commercial Music, Digital Music, Popular Music, Sound Design, Composition for Film & Games and Music Industry Management…

That’s before looking at Joint Honours Programmes: Music and another subject.

[Image: Emily]

Supporters of universities suggest that benefits for students include the opportunity to study an area of interest, meeting people with both similar and different interests, making connections with fellow students, lecturers and industry, and improving job prospects.

With current fees in the UK at £9,250 per year for many degree courses, plus the additional costs of study (text books, resources, accommodation, travel etc.), it’s important to consider whether university study is for you.

There is a big difference between studying for A-Levels or BTEC and studying at university. Although universities offer a range of support services, particularly for those with learning needs, university studies are much more focussed on individual study and research. This requires self-discipline and focus.

Choosing the right university for you is also important. Different universities have different specialisms and contacts within particular Industries or Sectors. For example, if you are considering studying Music Business or Music Industry Management, you may want to study in or close to London to take advantage of the opportunities in London for internships and attending Industry events.

Universities also have different ‘feels’. Attending open days where you can meet staff and current students and check out the facilities can help you get a good feel for each institution.

[Image: Ольга Жданова]

The teaching staff are also a key element of your university experience, so research the teaching team. See what research they have been involved in, what their position in the industry is and how active they are outside the university. Also find out about industry speakers and alumni. Developing your network while still at university is crucial to developing a career on graduation.

When selecting a university, key questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do you want to live at home or move away?
  • If you want to move away, does the university have halls and suitable accommodation nearby?
  • If studying music, what aspect of music do you want to study? What might you want to do as a job?
  • Do you want an academic programme or a more vocational one?
  • Do you want to study with particular tutors/lecturers?

Key questions to ask the University include:

  • How much contact time do you get on the course? What wider support is available?
  • What experience do you get on the course? For example performing opportunities, recording, managing live projects?
  • What opportunities does the course give for Studying Abroad or a Work Placement as part of the degree?
  • Does the course focus on a specific discipline or does it give you a wide overview of your chosen area?
  • How involved in the programme are named tutors?
  • How many students are in each cohort / class?
  • What jobs do recent graduates get? Where are alumni working 3 – 5 years after graduation?

[Image: Danchuter]

The key to finding the right path for you is in looking at the most important aspects of study thoroughly. The most important decisions centre around whether or not to go to university, which course to study and where to study. It’s vital to take time to visit any universities you’re considering, and to seek advice from family, friends and people in your preferred industry.

The author of this blog, MWC’s Maria Thomas, is a Senior Lecturer on the Music Industry Management course at the University of Hertfordshire. 

If you would like to speak to the Music Workshop Company about anything in this blog, or to book a workshop, contact us today:

The Music Industry Management Degree and the Industry of Today

Music, with all of the business, technical, managerial, legal, marketing and organisational elements that go on behind the scenes, has always offered a huge range of career opportunities. It has nonetheless been frequently overlooked as a career path as students are steered more towards traditional white-collar jobs.

Many of today’s leading music industry top brass talk of moving up through the ranks, starting in the mailroom of a record label and gradually developing the expertise, knowledge and contacts to make it to the top. That traditional route is still available, but increasingly, today’s industry is looking for people who bring skills and understanding right from the start. The business is much more complex than it was back in the ‘60s, and team members need to be able to adapt to a highly dynamic environment.

Specialist qualifications have become increasingly relevant to the job market, and to the music industry of the future. Degree courses have developed to prepare students for roles in the music industry.

Maria Thomas, Artistic Director and Founder of the Music Workshop Company, is a Senior Lecturer teaching business modules on the Music Industry Management degree at the University of Hertfordshire.

Maria_Thomas-300x247I’m very proud of the work we do on the Music Industry Management degree at the University of Hertfordshire. Our alumni are working in a wide range of areas of the music industry; performing, producing, music publishing, live music and record labels. We give our students a solid understanding of the industry as a whole. We take a maximum of 40 students a year, so we get to know them well and can help them make informed decisions about which area they want to work in, and then help them to prepare for that role.

The University of Hertfordshire Music Industry Management (MIM) degree course investigates all aspects of the contemporary music industry by bringing together the study of music, law and business studies. The course is delivered by an industry renowned team of lecturers, all of whom combine successful backgrounds as music business professionals alongside wide-ranging academic expertise and experience.


The principle aim of the programme is to develop the successful music industry managers, entrepreneurs and executives of the future and to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge base. As well as championing the importance of academic achievement, the University places great emphasis on developing the students’ personal confidence. Students are encouraged to apply their skills in practical environments through work experience placements and internships.

The course programme is led by Senior Lecturer, Dennis Collopy. Dennis’s career in the music industry so far spans four decades. He’s worked at Chrysalis Music, RCA Records, Riva Music – signing the Clash, Rod Stewart and John Mellencamp and spending 5 years running the USA companies – BMG Music Publishing, EG Group and Big Life Music. In 1992 he established his own firm, Menace Music, which has not only worked with many artists and producers, representing eminent USA and UK songwriters, it has held a worldwide co-venture agreement with Universal Music Publishing since 2003.

Dennis has served on the board of a number of music industry bodies including the Performing Rights Society and the Music Publishers Association and brings a strong research focus to his work. In 2009 he co-founded the Music and Entertainment Industries Research Group at the University of Hertfordshire, and in 2011 co-founded the European Music Business Research Association. He is co-editor of the International Journal of Music Business Research and completed a comprehensive research study for the Intellectual Property Office in 2013.

Teachers on the MIM course include Andy Saunders, Sharon Farquhar and Fred Bolza. Andy started at a small independent record company soon after graduating. This job kick-started a career that would see him working for almost 25 years at a senior level in the British music industry. After a 10-year stint as Director of Communications at Creation Records, where he worked with Oasis, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and many others, Andy launched Velocity Communications, one of the UK’s leading corporate PR and marketing companies specialising in music industry work.

Sharon is the MIM programme’s law specialist. She qualified as a solicitor in 1988, initially working in litigation, but soon moved to entertainment and media law firm, Sheridans, where she became a partner. Her specialisms in practice revolve around litigation in the music and computer and video games industry, with particular emphasis on copyright and contractual issues, defamation, Press Complaints Commission and anti-competition disputes.  High profile clients have included Pink Floyd and Sir Paul McCartney.

Fred is Vice President, Strategic Development, Sony Music UK. He is responsible for the development of Sony Music’s strategy in the UK and runs an in-house marketing services agency that helps labels connect artists with the widest possible audiences. He is considered one of the leading ‘thought leaders’ in the UK music industry and teaches music industry marketing to the students on the MIM course.

In this video, the University of Hertfordshire teaching team explain the benefit of a course delivered by practitioner-academics.

The University regularly welcomes guest industry speakers, including:

  • John Webster – CEO, Music Managers Forum
  • Lynne McDowell – Communications Director, BPI
  • Vick Bain – CEO, BASCA
  • Steve Levine – Chairman, Music Producers Guild
  • Craig David – Artist
  • Alan McGee – Founder, Creation Records
  • Geoff Taylor – CEO, The BPI
  • Rob Challice – Founding Partner , CODA Music Agency

And the University of Hertfordshire’s alumni work throughout the industry:

  • UK Music House: MPA, PRS, MMF, UKMusic, BASCA
  • Record Companies – UMG, Domino, Wichita, Sony
  • Music Publishers – UMPG, Kobalt, Peer,
  • The Live Music Industry – Coda, Live Nation
  • Digital Music Companies – Shazam
  • Artist Management – Rocket Music


The programme is well recognised throughout the industry:

tonyThe University of Hertfordshire’s music and creative arts faculty has become a key producer of graduates with appropriate skills for the growing creative industries sector – Tony Wadsworth, Chairman of the BPI

Tim ClarkI have an excellent relationship with the University of Hertfordshire both as a guest speaker and advisor and strongly believe that the music courses they run set the standard for others to follow –  Tim Clark, Managing Director, ie:music and Manager of Robbie Williams


The University of Hertfordshire Faculty of Music and Creative Arts is consistently delivering high calibre graduates into the entertainment business. We continue to work with the tutors and students across a number of initiatives and projects, which we believe contribute to a strong a vibrant part of the UK economy  – Lohan Presencer, CEO, Ministry of Sound Group


And former students are vocal about its role in their success:

Luke ArmitageThe MEIM course at UH was the perfect head start into a career in the music business. The course not only combines the theory and structure behind the marketing, legal, and financial aspects to the industry, but also nurtures your interests and encourages the practical side through internships and external opportunities. Without partnership initiatives like the Richard Toeman Music Publishing scholarship (which led to my internship at UMPG), I wouldn’t have had the early success I’ve had in my career, and also be in current my position in International Marketing at Universal Music Group – Alumnus Luke Armitage, now working for Universal Music Group

AyeshaFrom pan-European licensing to 360 recording agreements to international markets, the MEIM programme covered everything that I could possibly want to know prior to embarking on a career in the music industry. Thanks to the influence of the programme leaders and the teaching of each lecturer, I was able to begin my career with a strong, unique awareness and analytical approach that younger people trying to enter the business do not always possess. This has enabled me to stand out in many settings and to ultimately thrive professionally. Almost three years later, the knowledge and skills that I acquired have not become even remotely irrelevant – Ayeasha Johnson, former student

Holly DibdenThe MEIM course has equipped me with the fundamental knowledge and skills required to pursue a career within today’s music industry, thus, allowing me to begin my career in music publishing with a sound understanding of the landscape of the industry on a global scale. This has enabled me to begin my career in music publishing at Kobalt Music Group; a company that is changing the face of music publishing, directly after having completed the course.  MEIM provided me with skillsets that were directly transferable into a role within the current, evolving, music industry –Alumna Holly Dibden, now working for Kobalt Music Group

Rob DelmonteFor me, the most beneficial aspect about the MIM course is that it is constantly updated to include current music industry debate and economic argument. This means it goes further than just supplying students the theoretical knowledge needed succeed in the music industry, instilling a way of thinking that is vital in a business environment constantly being revolutionised by digital technology – being dynamic. This, combined with the wealth of expertise, experience and contacts lecturers offer, creates a powerful educational experience that grants students the crucial edge needed to enter an industry that is notoriously hard to enter – Robert Delmonte, former student,  now working for Audiencenet  


logoFor more information about entrance requirements and study routes in Music Industry Management, visit http://www.herts.ac.uk/courses/

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