Getting Started in Music
Start your new career in the Oklahoma music industry!
Welcome to Oklahoma’s music community, where there is a place for you! Home to some of the most renowned musical acts and venues in the world, there are more exciting opportunities in Oklahoma’s music industry than ever before. As the entertainment industry continues to flourish both globally and here in Oklahoma, the need for the continued development and expansion of our local music industry workforce and companies is critical. We invite you to explore our website’s resources to learn more about ways you can plug in to the industry and start your careers now!
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Below you’ll find some beginning tips to consider for those who have never worked in the music industry, but are looking to move forward. The great thing about the music industry is there are positions for nearly every skill set, either on stage, on the road, or in an office.
Opportunity Abounds for Every Occupation: It’s very common to associate music industry jobs with what is seen most on-stage: performers, musicians, celebrities, etc. However, so much of what goes into bringing music to the stage happens behind the scenes. Nearly every trade imaginable has a role that easily translates to a position that is part of the music industry. Such occupations and departments include music publisher, concert promoter, music supervisor, audio video engineer, music teacher, dj, production crew, musical therapist, film & video game composer, instrument repair & restoration specialist, and so much more. There’s a place for you in the music industry if you’re ready to jump into the action.
Don’t Forget About Promotion: Yes, there is the actual writing and recording of the music, but what happens after the project is wrapped? The album enters a completely different, but critical, phase of the creative process. If you’re a software or technical expert, this may be a place for you as there are so many skills needed in this realm to complete, distribute and promote an album. Mastering, editing, registering works, promoting and securing placements, are just a few other essential areas.
Learn Your Trade: If you know which area of the music industry interests you most, learn more about it. There are a number of organizations around the state that offer annual educational panels and workshops, some for free, and even more learning opportunities exist in the virtual realm from specialty music blogs, online tutorials, master class videos and more. Endless books abound on music education as well, which may be purchased in your physical or online retailer or procured from your local library systems.
Meet Other Music Professionals / Network: Across the country in all markets, the music industry remains a business where professionals working in the field are closely connected with one another. With this in mind, try to attend as many music events as you can in an effort to meet people, some of whom are those who will be hiring for the next shows and productions in your area. So many jobs are hired based on industry word of mouth and/or proven experience, so whether you’re just starting to meet people or you’re working in a music industry environment, build a good reputation.
Make Stuff: The easiest way to learn is by doing, and in some cases, create your own opportunities. If you want to record that EP or manage that artist, get out there and do it! No matter the scale or size of your project, a simple step forward is gained knowledge and experience.
Work on Other People’s Projects: Apply to participate as a studio intern for a local recording studio, promoter, venue, etc. Volunteer at local festivals. The more you can observe or participate in music projects (creation, promotion, collaboration, distribution), the more you build up your contacts/relationships and learn about the music industry.
Building Your Team: The more you connect with people and make or participate in projects, the more likely you are to start building your team. Collaborating with like-minded people will only help you as you move forward in your career working on your own projects or others.
The Oklahoma Film + Music Office invites audiences to virtually preview our 2021 Oklahoma Film and Music Conference with the release of the “Pivotal Work: Early Access Series”. Join some of the state’s leading industry professionals for this free video series, which features workshops and discussions designed to educate and inspire audiences seeking to learn more about career opportunities within Oklahoma’s film and music industries. The “Pivotal Work: Early Access Series” launched in December with subsequent monthly video releases through March 2021.
Oklahoma is known for a prolific musical heritage deeply rooted in the folk, country, and bluegrass genres, but that was just the beginning. Over time, our Americana roots blossomed into a diverse talent base that spans across every genre imaginable, and the state’s music education opportunities have paved the way for new voices to be heard. Oklahoma’s wide variety of universities, colleges, trade-schools and more offer classes and added education for those looking to learn more about film and/or music production. Below is a list of music educational opportunities in the state.
Oklahoma City Community College
OCCC’s two-year Associate Degree program in music develops skills in important areas such as theory, performance and individual and group applied music, all while enjoying modern facilities, including a Kurzweil Electronic Piano Laboratory with individual MIDI stations, practice rooms and a 250-seat theatre for performances.
Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO)
ACM@UCO in downtown Oklahoma City prepares students for careers in the music industry through a focused curriculum and real-world networking opportunities. ACM@UCO’s campus houses four professional recording studios, five large rehearsal spaces, fully-equipped classrooms and practice rooms, performance areas and two technology labs. Along with associate’s degrees/minors in contemporary music business, contemporary music performance, contemporary music production, songwriting and post-production audio, they now offer a bachelor of applied technology degree programs in commercial music and studio production.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
The music program of Northwestern Oklahoma State University prepares students majoring in music to accept the challenge of leadership in music and the arts amid the ever-changing face of society. The dedicated faculty help students experience the highest aesthetic order, thereby empowering graduates to be outstanding performers and dedicated educators.
Northeastern State University
NSU’s Music Department has a mission to provide undergraduate education leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree (with options in Musical Arts, Music Business, Performance and Jazz Studies) and Bachelor of Music Education degree.
Oklahoma City University – Wanda L. Bass School of Music
With two undergraduate tracks, Oklahoma City University’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music programs are designed to develop comprehensive musical skills and literacy with subjects such as instrumental performance, music theater, vocal performance, music education, composition, music business and piano pedagogy.
Oklahoma State University – Department of Music
The Department of Music at Oklahoma State University is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, and is proud to offer a wide variety of degree programs that prepare students as emerging music professionals in a wide variety of career paths.
Oklahoma State University – Music Industry
This course track is for students interested in the three music industry income streams: music production, music publishing and live entertainment. The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts has partnered with OSU to offer music industry students with real-world experience in state-of-the-art venues. You will explore courses in musicianship, music technology and music entrepreneurship, as well as classes related to general business.
Oral Roberts University
Students who wish to major in music at ORU are preparing for one of three degrees: Bachelor of Music Education; Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance, Sacred Music, Composition or Composition Technology; or a Bachelor of Arts in music with emphasis in Music Arts or Music Technology.
Southern Nazarene University – School of Music
Producing some of Oklahoma’s top Worship Leaders, SNU’s Bachelor of Science in Music is a degree that includes a Major in Music with an emphasis in Commercial Music Production or Music Performance. A Music Performance Emphasis offers a choice of Concentration between Vocal, Instrumental, or Keyboard Performance. The School of Music offers you the opportunity to study with credentialed faculty as you journey toward graduation, another step closer to reaching your goals. These scholars with a Christian worldview will mentor and guide you along the way. SNU’s smaller size allows students to interact with faculty — not only in the classroom, but also through impactful mentoring, personal advising, and meaningful research.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Southwestern Oklahoma State University is home to one of Oklahoma’s largest music schools. SWOSU offers undergraduate degrees in Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Music; the Graduate Division of the department offers the Master of Music in Performance, the Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy and the Master of Music in Music Education.
University of Oklahoma – Price College of Business – Gene Rainbolt Graduate School of Business
Located near downtown Oklahoma City, the University of Oklahoma’s MBA program gives you the opportunity to fulfill your potential as a business leader through executive-level business education. Earning your MBA degree in 16 months with the Price College of Business is a solid investment in your future. Students can choose to customize their curriculum through graduate certificates.
University of Oklahoma – School of Music
The OU School of Music offers degrees at the bachelors, masters and doctoral levels in all areas of music performance, composition, education, history and theory.
Oklahoma Arts Institute
The Oklahoma Arts Institute (OSAI) hosts the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, an intensive, two-week academy in the literary, visual, and performing arts for Oklahoma’s most talented high school students, as well as the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute, a series of four-day weekend workshops for educators and adult artists of all ability levels.
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Folk Alliance International
Folk Alliance International (FAI) was founded in 1989 to connect folk music leaders aiming to sustain the community and genre. The leading international voice for folk music, FAI is an arts nonprofit and NEA designated National Arts Service Organization based in Kansas City, Missouri. FAI is the leading international voice for folk music with a network of more than 3,000 members: a worldwide community of artists, agents, managers, labels, publicists, arts administrators, venues, festivals, and concert series presenters.
Scene Skeleton is a free weekly video series featuring conversations with experienced panelists from across the nation discussing strategies, best practices and other music industry topics. Created by Chad Whitehead, talent buyer for Tower Theatre, Ponyboy and Patchwork Presents, this series is designed to support local musicians as they navigate the music industry by giving them access to people with decades of experience. Each episode will begin with a conversation before moving into an artist-submitted Q&A session. Topics include how to release an album, promoting a concert, managers/agents, branding and more. All of Season 1 is now available for streaming.
Sound Development by Sound Diplomacy
The first event of its kind to bring the world’s property developers and music industry together, Sound Development explores the issues and opportunities between music and real estate in the United Kingdom and around the world. There have been nine editions so far, welcoming 1000+ delegates from planners and architects, to artists and music industry professionals.
The Searchlight Sessions
The Searchlight Sessions are interviews with experienced entertainment professionals sharing important information about the music and media industry. These videos are designed to help entertainment professionals, especially those that are up-and-coming, to expand their knowledge and skills in multiple areas and hopefully be able to leverage this new information to increase their income and build their reputation. With COVID-19 impacting so many in the entertainment industry, the goal is to help musicians and filmmakers to see other ways to make money and think outside the box.
Presented by the Americana Music Association Foundation, Thriving Roots is a brand new event with almost 100 online sessions that go beyond today’s webinar-style virtual conferences. The webinar took place in 2020 with tickets still available for purchase through the fall of 2021.