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Monday, July 13, 2015

The Great Debate: Music Business Education

Photo: Steve Rennie
Steve Rennie of Renman Music & Business reports, "Over the course of my career I’ve been asked a million times, “What is the best way to learn the music business?” Answering that question has really become something of a mission for me over the last two and a half years."


Over the course of my career I’ve been asked a million times, “What is the best way to learn the music business?” Answering that question has really become something of a mission for me over the last two and a half years.

It inspired me to start a website Renman Music & Business where aspiring artists and professionals could go to learn more about this business. If you haven’t heard about the site yet, check it out and I promise that it’s the best free resource there is to go out and get started. In this post today, I want to discuss the options you have to study and learn the music biz and give you some important points to consider if you’re seriously thinking about studying or getting a degree in the music business. Let’s get started.

So how do you learn the music biz?
When I started 37 years ago there were no music industry programs to take. There was no internet. There was no Youtube. There was a book called “This Business of Music” and that was it. The rest you had to learn on your own. So the first thing I learned about trying to succeed in the music business is that you need to commit to learning. I realized you have to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can, and by whatever means you can.

I also learned that you need to ask questions.  There’s so much to learn about the music biz and as I like put it, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and you won’t learn.”  The best place to get those answers is from folks who’ve already experienced what you are going through. That brings me to the third key to learning the music business: networking. To get advice from those smarter, more experienced people I learned I had to surround myself with them. Once you start meeting those folks, I found you could find a mentor who took an interest in you and helped fastback your process. You want to fast track your learning in the music business and finding a great, experienced mentor is the best way to do so.

Having great mentors in my career made a huge difference because these were people who were much smarter, more experienced, and more successful than me. Almost all the successful folks in this music business were lucky enough to find some mentors along the way who helped fast track their learning. All of those mentors were serial ‘doers’ and that, by far, was the most important lesson I learned.

You learn by doing in the music biz.
Now that you know a bit of how you learn the music business, let’s talk about the options out there for you. A lot has changed since I grew up in the business and today you have four options to study it:
  • Study at college 
  • Online “music biz experts”   
  • Free online services and blogs  
  • Go out and do it on your own  
For this post, I’m going to focus on studying the music business at college.  It’s a question that I’m most frequently asked by people who aspire to be in the music business and it’s a decision that comes with a lot of money attached to it.