Should Musicians Go to College?

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Going to college or striking solo is a common question for aspiring musicians. It is a question that every budding musician has thought about. This is due to the prominent examples of celebrities without any formal education.

Even today, we have many examples of successful independent musicians without any education. It is thus correct to say that a college education is not strictly necessary for a music career. A college musical education can, however, provide you tons of benefits for your music career.

Still unsure about which route you should take? Consider these reasons and you might find your view changing.

Reasons for a College Music Education

1. Networking Opportunities

Going to college for musical education gives one the opportunity to establish relationships and networks. These relationships and networks are vitally important for a future music career.

Going to a top musical college will ensure you are taught and raised with the best cohort. You will be interacting with the best of the industry and forming contacts for the future. Musicians, technicians, composers, organizers, producers and more will be your friends. This can give you a leg up when you finally enter the musical industry. How will it give you that edge? You will know the right people for booking venues, covering performances and pitching discography.

2. Growing up in a Safe Environment

What are some of the most common stories we hear about young bands or artists?

Stories about their burn out. This is because they have to traverse the competitive music industry on their own and often have no choice but to follow a sink or swim approach.

Studying in a college will provide you with ample opportunities to mature safely. You can become aware of the challenges of the industry in academic settings. You will learn and refine your musical voice under the tutelage of professionals. College will provide the discipline and focus which is lacking in solo artists. Their lack of success stems from this lack of qualities.

3. Attaining Skills and Expertise

College is the route you pursue to attain skills, expertise, and knowledge. That is a known fact.

Pursuing college for your music career will allow you to develop a strong base for your music. With practical demonstrations, you will learn the various intricacies of many musical techniques. This will give you a solid grounding which you can innovate upon and build upon in various ways. It will provide you with adaptability. With a solid base, you can more easily switch careers or instruments.

This is in stark contrast to attempting it independently. For every success story about a solo music artist we hear, there are thousands we don’t of those who didn’t make the cut. Why is that so? Because those who managed success did so through sheer effort, gifted ability, or blind luck. Breaking into the music industry is already very hard. Without formal education, you only have a little room for mistakes before you get buried.

4. Holistic Growth

The need for modernity calls for multidimensional skills, versatility, and holistic growth.

The age of specialization has passed us. People need multiple revenue streams to sustain families. Rounded and multifaceted personalities achieve more success than one-dimensional ones. A college education helps you in developing all these characteristics.

Apart from your growth as a musician, your writing skills will grow. You will learn about history and liberal arts and might even take a business course or two.

But how is all of this relevant to your future musical career?

Your rounded personality will translate into a more composed personality. Volatility may be a selling point for rock stars but it also leads them to vice. With grounding in history and liberal arts, you will evoke that in your musical messaging. That is important in today’s conscious times. Business skills will allow you to grow your brand, make better financial decisions and manage your commercial entity.

A person who has not gone through this education and training might very well be a gifted musician. With that said, however, there’s a high chance that they might make terrible financial decisions, offend audiences with their content, and go into ruin.


To conclude, do you need to go to college to pursue a music career? No. But should you? Definitely!

The music industry is currently very competitive with high barriers to entry. A college education allows you to eliminate many of these barriers. It prepares you for entry with several cards up your sleeve.

If you’re like most people, chances are that you are not a musically gifted genius. You’re probably also not someone who has been composing masterpieces or making everyone swoon since the age of 14. You can thus stand to benefit from formal education.

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