by Dr. Paul Guise (originally published in 2005)

is an arts consultant, conductor and music educator living in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
Check out his website at

Formal business training programs exist at many post-secondary institutions, but those directed specifically at musicians are relatively rare. It is generally acknowledged that the University of Miami was among the first in North America to offer a music business program, which began in 1965. There were approximately 200 music business programs as of 1990 in the United States, and my own research has identified 22 colleges and universities in Canada that offer at least one music business course or program (as of 2004).

One major problem is that across institutions, courses with the same name and similar catalog descriptions can show very little standardization. This stands in contrast to many music courses such as history or theory survey courses, where there are commonly established textbooks and related curricula that are used pan-institutionally. As with choosing a mentor, pay careful attention to the specifics of the course/program you’re considering. Institutions such as these generally provide the highest quality of instruction and content, but that means very little if it doesn’t meet your particular needs. This month, we’ll look at Canadian colleges that offer music business content: universities will be covered next month. So, here are the colleges, listed by province, from west to east.

British Columbia is home to three colleges that offer music business content, each home to a single business survey course. Kwantlen University College in Langley (SE of Vancouver) offers The Business of Music, a two-credit course open to all music students. This course covers a wide range of introductory information about the music business, and makes extensive use of guest lecturers to present up-to-date views from active practitioners in the field. A similar course, Career Opportunities in Music, is offered at Vancouver Community College. Further east, Selkirk College (in Nelson) offers its own The Business of Music, this time with a clear pop music focus. Course contents include time management, business planning, creating an effective resume, grants, tax time, and interviewing.

Grant MacEwan College, in Edmonton, Alberta, also offers a single music business course, Professionalism. The course content is based almost exclusively on guest lecturers and student needs, and as such, course content varies significantly from year to year. Red Deer College (in Red Deer, AB) offers the most comprehensive music business education package in Western Canada, with three courses. The first two, Music Merchandising I-II, act as a two-part survey course with contents including networking, careers in music, publishing, copyright, licensing/performing rights & organizations, merchandising, financial management, concert promotion, artist management, unions, grants, and contracts. Upon completion of these two courses, students can enroll in Marketing Practicum, which is tailored to the needs each student and provides a hands-on, practical means of applying the knowledge gained in the first two courses. Graduates can also choose to participate in a full-time, one semester Marketing Practicum at a wide number of NAMM-member businesses around the world, as the Red Deer College program is the only NAMBI accredited program in Canada.

In Ontario, Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology (in Sudbury) offers two music business courses, The Business of Music I-II. Both parts focus on music marketing, including public relations, contracts, copyright, demos, organizing concerts, and working with music related software. Ontario’s only other college with music business content, Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology (in London), is the 10,000 pound gorilla of music business education in Canada. Fanshawe offers no fewer than twelve music business courses, including Music Industry Seminar I-II, Guest Lecture Series, Intro to the Music Industry I-II, Contracts I-IV, Music Business I-II, and Business Ethics in the Music Industry. Specifics of each course can be found on Fanshawe’s website: suffice to say that this is the most comprehensive music business education program in Canada.

Cégep Marie-Victorin and Collège Lionel-Groulx are the only two colleges in Québec that offer music business courses, each with one offering, and each in French. CMV’s course is Gestion de carrière et communications professionelles (Career Management and Professional Communications), while CLG’s course is simply Musique et carrière (Music and Career). Neither school publishes any description of its’ course, so it’s hard to determine what exactly gets taught or even if the courses exist other than on paper.

For students in Atlantic Canada, College of the North Atlantic is the only option for music business courses, but it’s a very good option. CNA has campuses throughout Newfoundland, but the Music Industry and Performance program is based in Stephenville and offers three music business courses. The first, Music Business, is a broad-based survey course of music industry fundamentals, specifically the pop music business. Multimedia Marketing introduces students to the fundamentals of marketing music, and results in each student producing a customized marketing plan for their own use. Finally, Special Events Management looks at the planning, implementation, and assessment of events such as concerts. These three courses are supported by five other (non-music-specific) business courses which, all together, result in the second-largest music business program in Canada.

Tune in next time for the conclusion of our series on how to acquire business skills, when we’ll look at possibilities at Canadian universities. See you next month, same brass time, same brass channel!