Career Development for Musicians I

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
PEFA 1139
Career Development for Musicians I
Performing & Fine Arts
Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
2 hours
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Lecture/demonstrations for 2 hours per week with the instructor and guest lecturers from the music industry. Project-oriented assignments.

Course Description
This course explores the business of music with an emphasis on the skills and knowledge required for developing and maintaining a career. Topics include economics of the music industry, accounting and financial planning for small business, sales techniques, tax law, advertising and marketing skills, options for further education and training, exploring careers in music related industries, working within the wider business and cultural communities.
Course Content

  1. Understanding the economics of the music industry:
    • assessing current trends and career opportunities and planning for the future
    • understanding the role of technology and other economic drivers in industry change
  2. Exploring careers in music related industries: career options for musicians beyond teaching and performing:
    • recording studio work
    • arts administration
    • electronic media: film, radio and television, games, internet
    • musical instrument and equipment retail and repair
    • music and art criticism and journalism
  3. Options for further education and training
    • graduate schools
    • teacher education
    • technical training for music in electronic media and information technology
    • arts administration or other business-related training
  4. Basics of accounting, small business financing and planning
  5. Tax law for small business and professional income
  6. Sales techniques for the music entrepreneur
    • the psychology of sales: voice, attitude, and language
    • selling your music and your musical skills to the public
  7. Advertising and marketing: creating materials and developing techniques
    • basic website creation
    • assembling an electronic press kit
    • advertising in print and electronic media
    • web-based networking techniques
    • basic graphic design skills for the musician
  8. Music in the wider business and cultural communities
    • seeking support from and creating partnerships with the business and corporate sectors
    • partnering with non-profit groups
    • working in co-operation with public schools, colleges and universities
    • working with community centres and libraries
    • accessing opportunities within specific cultural and ethnic communities

Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to prepare students for the successful pursuit of a career in music. Students will have completed projects that will be of practical use in their careers. 

By the end of this course students will possess an understanding of:

  • current trends in the music industry, including economic drivers
  • career possibilities
  • further education options
  • tax laws and basic accounting for self employed musicians and small music businesses
  • sales techniques for the professional musician
  • how to seek support and create partnerships in the arts and business communities

They will be able to:

  • design and create a basic web site appropriate to the music industry
  • produce an electronic promotional kit
Means of Assessment
Quizzes (2) 20%
Project I 25%
Project II 25%
Final project 30%

Students may choose from projects including:

  • creating a press kit,
  • design of promotional and advertising materials for a concert or event
  • creating a 5-year business plan
  • designing a simple website
  • developing a detailed 5-year career plan
  • conducting interviews with professionals on specific areas of the music industry
  • giving a sales or promotional presentation to the class
  • Other projects appropriate to the specific career goals of individual students may be suggested by students and developed with the input and approval of the instructor.


Textbook Materials

Course pack and selected readings from:

  • Des Pres, J. and Landsman, M. (2004) Creative careers in music.  New York: Allworth Press.
  • Ellefson, D. (1996) Making music your business: a guide for young musicians.  San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books.
  • Gelfand, M. (2005) Strategies for success: self promotion secrets for musicians.  New York: Schirmer Trade Books.
  • Krasilowsky, M. and Shemel, M. (2003) This Business of Music: The Definitive Guide to the Music Industry.  New York: Watson-Guptill Publications.
  • Mitchell, B. (2001) The gigging musician: how to get, play, and keep the gig.  Berkeley, CA: Hal Leonard
  • Rapaport, D. (2003) A music business primer. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Tabet, J. and Slater, J. (1994) Financial essentials for small business success: accounting, planning, and recordkeeping techniques for a healthy bottom line.  Dover, N.H.: Upstart Publishing
  • Thall, P. (2002) What they’ll never tell you about the music business: myths secrets, lies, and a few truths.  New York: Watson-Guptill Publications.

Which Prerequisite