Music Industry Faculty (L to R): Matt Talbott, Dept. Chair Dave Burdick, Ronnie Dean
Overview of Music Industry Studies
by Dr. Dave Burdick
Music Industry Studies is divided into two majors, Commercial Music and Music Business. In a general sense, the commercial major is a creative program and the business major is, well a business program. Both majors are BM degrees (fully accredited by NASM). When I say commercial music is a creative program, what I am referring to is that students in that program desire to be directly involved with the making of music. That means many different things to different students, but generally we're talking about songwriters, players/artists, producers, recording engineers and arrangers. They all typically have an interest in music technology. I'd add jazz musicians in there as well, mentioning them separately only because our jazz studies program exists in a certain kind of autonomy though it falls under the organizational umbrella of Music Industry Studies. Most jazz studies students will continue to pursue their education at the graduate level of study.
Music Business majors are frequently very active in the making of music, often electing to take as many of the Commercial Music courses as they have room for in their schedules, but they intend to keep music making in their life as something they love to do but don't plan to do professionally. They prepare for a career on the business side of music by taking traditional business courses and music-specific business courses and completing an internship (many desire the added security of the straight business courses which leaves the road open for them to pursue an MBA and in more than one instance, attend law school). If you've followed the developments in the music industry in the last few years, you are undoubtedly aware of what an exciting time it is and how wide open the playing field is. Our students tend to have the entrepreneurial spirit, which is a prime attribute for those who care about music and want to be in the front wave of those who are, even as we speak, redefining the model for the music business.
Graduates of the Commercial Music program are currently enjoying careers as performers, recording engineers, songwriters, educators and many other things. I would love to give you some kind of guarantee as to exactly what you can expect in your life with a Commercial Music degree, but it doesn't work that way (I don't believe it works like that with any degree program, though certain degrees, such as nursing or education, do offer a more predictable professional path in life). Like myself, our Commercial Music students are passionate about making music. They are the sort who understand that they want to arrive at a point in life with no regrets about "what might have been". They are risk takers, highly self-motivated and typically among the most talented students in the School of Music. They design for themselves elective courses of study of to build unique skill sets that will arm them with more creative control in their musical lives. The essence of our Commercial Music program is to provide an environment where this type of student will flourish. Our course work is rigorous and our technical facility modeled on the real world of professional recording studios, constantly being updated and upgraded. Our students work (and learn) collaboratively, as musicians do in the professional world. The music industry faculty remains highly engaged in the professional world. If this sounds like you and this environment is the sort of position you want to place yourself in to do this important period of learning and growing in your life, then you really need to come visit us, view the facility and talk to the students and faculty. And keep asking questions!
Lastly, I would remind anyone that an undergraduate degree from Millikin University is an extremely valuable credential in your life. This is, campus wide, a great place to be, to learn, and to discover how to make the most of your life in every way. You can start the ball rolling by contacting Nancy Freeman (
firstname.lastname@example.org) at the School of Music. She will assist you with every aspect of inquiry, including setting up an audition.