Music as an Employable Major

I started reading, with trepidation, a survey and article posted today on Huffington Post that was headlined “The 11 Most Unemployable Majors.” When I finally got to the slideshow featuring all the so-called useless majors, I was relieved to see that music wasn’t on there. In fact, the only mention of anything associated with the arts was titled “Miscellaneous Arts” (whatever that is) and showed a photo of a room in an art museum.

by Barbra Weidlein

What are these surveys about? Do they really tell us anything? They probably scare some parents and maybe a few students too, but I think students on the whole are a whole lot smarter than that. To be really smart, though, especially if you want to work in some aspect of music, you need to be well-prepared, well in advance.

So, is music really an employable major? These days, every major in music seems to require some kind of business and communications savvy:  the ability to fundraise; the ability to use social media and stay on top of its rapid-fire changes; the ability to promote yourself and your ideas; the ability to communicate well with a broad range of people, from business owners and funders to audiences, parents, students and fellow musicians (depending on your area of emphasis); the ability to keep your books and pay your taxes if you are self-employed; the ability to advocate for your particular emphasis in music. Sometimes these skills are associated with the label “entrepreneurship.” But regardless of what you call them and regardless of what aspect of music you major in, you will need them to be viable in your field in the 21st century.

These are skills that you’ll to want gain throughout your undergraduate years rather than at the end of them. Look at what the schools you are applying to offer and support you in taking to help you bring your passion into the world. See whether they incorporate business-oriented or entrepreneurial classes and discussions in the music program or at least make it easy to take such classes in the business school. Prepare yourself so you can exit not just with a bachelor’s degree but also the readiness to work in your field whether or not you decide to go right on to graduate school. These are skills you’ll need no matter how many degrees you earn. Help keep music off lists like Huffington Post’s “Most Unemployable Majors.”

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