The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is tailoring an existing degree program for students who want music careers – just not on a stage or in the business side of the industry.
UL Lafayette has launched a recording arts concentration for its bachelor’s degree in music. Courses will begin this fall.
The new concentration is designed to prepare graduates for jobs as music producers, sound engineers, mixers, editors and other audio production careers.
It’s also designed to enable them to work in virtually any medium that features music, including recording, TV, film, animation and video games, said Chris Munson, an associate professor who will coordinate the recording arts concentration.
“Many students who love music don’t want to play an instrument, but they do want to help create it, whether that’s in the control room of a recording studio, making computer-based music, running concerts or any number of behind-the-scenes roles,” Munson explained.
Music majors who pursue the recording arts concentration will study technical aspects of studio recording and live sound production. They won’t, on the other hand, take music lessons or perform in ensembles, requirements of the University’s eight other concentrations for music majors.
Instead, they’ll immerse themselves in a curriculum stacked with music production courses. Students will learn about recording techniques, live event production, electronic music, audio engineering, mixing, mastering, beat-making, sound design and computer-based music.
Learning their way around School of Music and Performing Arts studios set up for recording, post-production, electronic music and mastering will also be requisite. So too will collaborating with other music majors on projects being produced via the student-run Ragin’ Records.
Experience gathered in those sort of settings is prized in Louisiana, where a diverse music scene and more than 400 motion pictures made over the last decade have contributed to a multibillion-dollar entertainment industry.
Professional recording studios and film sets, however, aren’t the only places where sound production happens, Munson said. Many industry professionals work from studios they’ve assembled in their homes or garages, thanks to the emergence of affordable sound technology and equipment.
Trekking to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Austin or Nashville – where Munson spent two decades as a drummer, studio manager and record label manager – is no longer the only route to a successful career in audio production.
“Artists don’t need major record labels to get their music out there anymore, and many are opting to just do it themselves,” Munson said.
The recording arts concentration’s “DIY Recording” course will show students how. It will delve into independent promotion and distribution, a mushrooming outlet for musicians trying to find a large audience or earn a recording contract.
Artists once left to send demo tapes to record companies that receive thousands a year can now upload music to video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, or distribute their sounds via digital stores and streaming apps such as iTunes.
“But they need to be capable of refining, packaging and marketing their material – or lean on someone who can,” Munson said.