At the start of the 2015-16 academic year, Rowan University launched a Bachelor of Science Music Industry degree program.
This program, tailored to help students succeed in the ever-changing music business, splits into two specializations: music technology and music business.
Mathieu Gendreau, the music industry program director and creator of the program, formerly taught at Drexel University in their music industry program. He said the program was important to create, as the music industry has been changing dramatically, especially in the past decade.
The two specializations within the program allow for students to have expertise in one of two given fields, making them more marketable in the competitive music industry.
“In the business track, students focus on advanced record deals, promotion, publishing, entrepreneurship and other business models,” Gendreau said. “We talk about the impacts of, let’s say, iTunes, and how that didn’t even come from music industries. It’s important to know how to market your own music within these changes that have occurred [in] the past 10 years.”
The technology track focuses on advanced recording, live sound, shadow engineering and game production, which includes programming a soundtrack into a video game.
The program as a whole prepares students for a wide range of possible careers, such as entry into live sound, record producing, artist managing and marketing promotion in music.
Gendreau has been involved in the music industry throughout his whole life, even creating his own record company called Fine Day Records. He orchestrated hiring additional experienced faculty at Rowan with a wide breadth of expertise such as Barbara Adams, the current sound engineer for Tin Angel and World Café, both in Philadelphia. This strong faculty, in addition to the coursework, provide their personal experiences to students which adds to the program.
“When I started [looking for jobs in the music industry] in the ‘90s, my undergrad degree was business,” Gendreau said. “It took me years to understand how to make a living in the music industry. It’s a very specific business, a people’s business. Having this program allows everyone to meet students who will help you later in life. We really push networking.”
The competitive program currently has 30 students enrolled. These students have been able to travel to an NFL sound check in Mount Laurel, New Jersey as well as attend one of Justin Timberlake’s sound checks to learn more about the industry. Sound checks involve making certain the audio is set correctly and will run smoothly throughout an event.
Jim Gallagher, an adjunct professor for the program at Rowan, teaches the history of pop music courses. Gallagher has also worked for over 30 years in the music industry, first beginning at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia.
“[Gendreau] first approached me asking my opinion about the curriculum for the program,” Gallagher said. “I thought it was very well balanced. Quite frankly, I loved it, and it was a very intelligent approach for an industry which is rapidly changing and that’s extremely important.”
Gallagher feels the program allows students to gain all of the skills necessary for students to make a living in the music industry.
Entry into the program is very competitive, and next year’s program, which required an essay in addition to the regular Rowan application, has already been capped at 38 students.
“Because of this program, now we’re learning so many skills, which makes those in the program a jack of all trades,” Gallagher said.
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