As master composer Johann Sebastian Bach said more than 250 years ago, “I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.” The same rings true for all people, especially musicians, today: Being skillful, innovative, and hardworking will pay off.
The music industry has always had to keep up with the ways music transformed and impacted culture. It was the same 250 years ago as it is now. While musicians and the way music is made have changed with the digital age, so have the ways the next generation of musicians are adapting, learning, and taking steps toward their future careers.
In these challenging times, online learning is undoubtedly going to become an even more appealing prospect for students in the future, particularly for those who want to work in the music industry. Since the early 2010s, online education enrollment has steadily increased, with students citing affordability and convenience as some of the top reasons they choose to attend online classes rather than traditional campus classes.
Training musical leaders
As one of the first contemporary music schools in the country, Musicians Institute (MI) has always been at the forefront of training the modern musician. Founded in 1977, MI started as a guitar school, primarily focused on training guitarists to find work as recording artists and studio musicians.
As the industry evolved and MI expanded to several other instruments, the school’s overall spirit of autonomy and individuality remained. MI’s on-campus students had the advantage of performing on stage, jamming with classmates, and using in-class gear. MI’s online programs offer another path for musicians to have an exciting career in the next generation of the music industry.
“While we don’t know exactly what the music industry of the future will look like, we do know this generation is going to be responsible for shaping it,” said Michael Packer, MI’s senior director of international outreach and online education. “I believe live performance will continue to be as important as ever, but the Internet offers amazing access.
“Online students, well-versed in technology and possessing an entrepreneurial mindset, will play an integral part in designing the music industry of the future.”
In the digital age, artists have more power at their fingertips.
“In the new digital music industry, the gatekeepers are gone and so are the abundance of obstacles for artists and music fans,” wrote Jeff Price in his Hypebot article “How Technology Destroyed The Traditional Music Industry.”
In this vein, online music students will learn firsthand how they can create their own music and brand to go directly to listeners. They will not only be multifaceted musicians, but also music marketers, artist managers, and, essentially, their entire team.
Access for all
Many online degrees tout accessibility and convenience as benefits, and an online music education is no different. These programs allow people from all walks of life — whether they are just starting out or are looking to switch careers — to follow their passion for music on their terms. With more flexible schedules and no on-campus classrooms, a global community of musicians can convene like never before.
Embodying the idea of personalization as an artist, some MI Online courses, like Guitar Mastery and Maintenance, allow instructors to thrive in their home studios and set the example for students on how to handle studio setups and instruments with care.
This unique aspect would otherwise not be available in a shared classroom, and prepares students to be independent creators who can troubleshoot through many situations that arise in studios and on stage.
All of this is not to say that online education will take away the collaborative aspect of on-campus schooling. As education and the music industry evolve, so too have the techniques and technologies to keep students connected. If they’re solely in a non-performance program, like Music Business, online students have requirements to post and discuss class topics weekly, allowing them to still connect with classmates like they would on any online message board.
In the past few years, many collaborative music-making apps have come onto the market, mostly thanks to faster internet options, stronger mobile networks, and musicians’ need to make, practice, and learn music with others efficiently and remotely.
Apps like Soundtrap, Avid Cloud Collaboration, and BandLab allow people to work on the same track, contributing melodies, lyrics, and beats, virtually. Naturally, these technologies will only strengthen online music classes, where musicians can eventually record vocals, compose on a DAW, and even jam together remotely with little to no latency.
One of the most promising of these technologies is the Elk Audio OS. In October, Ericsson and Vodafone held a successful demo of Elk Audio over 5G, where spectators got to experience a band perform with a singer, but from locations nearly 7.5 miles apart!
Elk Audio also hosted a special panel at NAMM 2020 called “How 5G Will Change The Music Industry,” with big players in the industry framing this technology with 5G as the absolute future of music, revolutionizing real-time jamming and collaboration over the internet, remote real-time recording, and audio education.
Innovations like this will inevitably shake the foundations of music-making, bringing remote creation to the forefront. As a result, remote online education and its students will continue forging how we learn music in the future.
“The most powerful benefit of studying music online is students get firsthand experience on the platform(s) where music is being created and sold,” Packer said. “Our job as music educators is to prepare students to be competitive and successful in the modern music industry … and that industry is thriving online.”