So you're thinking of going to a music production school, college or university and are wondering ‘are music production schools worth it?'
Well you've come to the right place, because for over 6 years I have been at school for music production:
- 2 years of College (17-19)
- 4 years of University (19-23)
And over these years I've experienced a great deal & wanted to share my personal experience to help people on the fence about their decision.
It is a pretty massive decision after all.
If you want to check out what jobs are available to musicians before deciding, check out these music production jobs.
Can I Learn Music Production by Myself?
The short answer to this is yes. BUT, it's not really that simple.
You've got to know who you are and how you learn best.
That being said, no matter who you are, it is EXTREMELY valuable to have a mentor to answer your questions more directly and show you how to do it.
I want to say that I firmly believe you make your own success in life.
Degree or not, music school or not – if you are willing to put in the time & effort it takes to learn something, then you'll get it.
It takes consistency, smart work & determination.
We're lucky to live in an age where information is at your fingertips (literally). And you can use your phone or computer to learn sound design, mixing & so much more.
So, if you know you're disciplined enough to consistently show up and make time to make music around your full-time job or other commitments, then of course you can!
But it definitely helps to have access to great teachers & music industry professionals that have real world experience.
If you do want to go it alone,
I'd highly recommend joining production communities & networking with people.
The path of audio engineering & music production can become very lonely at times and having support in the form of a production network or mentorship is worth a tonne.
You'll find all that at school for music production.
What Will I Learn at Music School?
Personally I graduated from University with a BA Hons in Music Production from BIMM. They offer a wide range of courses & options you can check out on their website.
I enrolled in was the 3 year degree and here's what it covered:
- Logic Pro X
- Ableton Live
- Pro Tools
- Mixing & Mastering
- Music Theory & Film/TV Compositions
- Sound Design
- Music Business
- Video Production
- Artist Development
- Live Computer Music Performance
- Immersive Sound (sound for surround systems)
- Live Sound Engineering
- Audio Engineering
- Computer Music Design (MAX MSP/reaktor & coding)
Did I need to attend music school to learn all of this?
No of course I didn't.
I learned most of what they taught in the degree, in my 2 year music production program at college (senior year in US).
What really helped was, being in a different city, surrounded by so many people who were all working towards the same goal.
To truly become a music producer (and make it your career), I wholeheartedly believe that you have to surround yourself by people who want the same, to build a network of connections.
Going to school for music production at BIMM provided me with this environment & if I hadn't gone, I would have never come this far.
Using my time wisely, networking with the right people & still managing to find time to make music, I managed to:
- Play multiple festivals on huge line-ups that included heavyweights like: Chase & Status, Andy C, DJ EZ, Gorgon City & loads more.
- Get booked at international festivals.
- Create an events brand that put on sell out nights.
- Get my music on radio, blogs, labels etc.
- Start my own music business (that is now my job in the real world)!
Being there in the thick of it all really does accelerate your learning process, and makes your far more ambitious than if you were stuck at home with a course.
It also provides you with great connections and even opens up employment options to you after you finish.
(I got employment within the music industry a month after I left).
Now, did I get this all from what was actually taught at music production school?
I got this from sheer the determination and work towards a goal I was hungry for.
Sure, the University provided a great place to network and fuel my ambition, but a lot of the lessons weren't that engaging & it felt like things were included in the curriculum simply to make it adhere to academic standards.
So is a music production degree worth it? Let's talk about how much it costs first…
How Much Will I Spend on A Music Production Program?
Most universities in the U.K. currently cost £9000/term and that's not including your rent, food, travel & equipment.
That means 3 years will cost your £27,000 in tuition alone.
To put it in perspective, this is how much I paid for one year in rent & tuition fees:
- £9000 tuition fee
- £6804 rent (no bills included)
All together that's £15,804 for a singular term at University & your average course lasts 3 years.
Now, if you are going to music production school in the UK, you can get a student loan & maintenance loan to help you out while you're there, but depending on your situation it's not always a lot.
Remember to check your situation, see how much you can get and work out a budget.
Rent highly depends on where you stay. If you choose London, you'll be paying a massive premium, but if you go somewhere else, it could be cheaper.
It's advisable to be careful when looking for accommodation and to make sure your landlord is nice, because generally student housing is the WORST.
What Happens When I Finish Music School?
I luckily got hired straight out of music school, but that's not the case for a lot of people I went with & it's not the case for most people that go.
Once you've got your music production degree, of course you'll entice more employers for regular jobs, outside the music industry.
But… in my experience, people look for past experience & skills more.
Although having a music production degree does prove that you are skilled & have a certain level of determination – you'll likely apply for jobs with a portfolio of work you've done, rather than a CV filled to the brim with educational achievements.
Making a career out of audio engineering isn't an easy thing to do. You have to work incredibly hard and know how to really market & sell your music to make it a viable career.
But if you want it, you'll get it. A certificate isn't going to change that.
It certainly would if you wanted to be a doctor or Lawyer, but that isn't the case for music.
Are Music Production Schools Worth it?
My personal experience was not worth it for the cost, but that was down to the wrong choice in university & course.
The access to great teachers, recording equipment & music industry professionals was second to none and I would recommend anyone to go to an open day & look at the courses based on that alone.
It was an incredible school, for live sound, studio & helping to become a commercial film/games music producer in the music industry.
It just wasn't for me.
It's important find a course that suits your needs. If you're going for electronic music (like I was), find a course does specifically just that.
For instance, I've had friends attend other music schools who have been wildly satisfied with their course & what they learned from it.
It all depends on what you want to do.
If you are considering going, we'd highly recommend you check out these resources to make an informed decision:
- Is a music production degree worth it? (the student room)
- Is a music technology degree worth it? (quora)
If you know music production is what you want to do for the rest of your life, you'll get there without a degree.
But it sure as hell helps with gaining connections and fuelling your passion further.
We'd like to invite you to check out some of our other articles, here's a few we think you'll like!
With over 8 years of hands-on experience in the music industry, Harry has run successful raves, played alongside industry heavyweights such as Max Chapman, DJ EZ, DJ Zinc and more (pictured below), had music played on national radio, DJ'd on live radio, produced until he hated every song, mixed until his ears bled, created sample packs from scratch using just a Zoom H1n and some sound design skills… and pretty much anything related to music production – he's done it, tested it, tried it.