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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Ask Charlie - The Business Aspect of Music

  • 2000 4 May
Ask Charlie - The Business Aspect of Music

Charlie Peacock IS HERE with YOU in Musician Resources on the Music Channel at to answer YOUR questions. Think of it as your chance to have Charlie as your mentor - your virtual mentor here on

Charlie won't be able to answer every question, but he'll pick one or more to address as part of his regular column, ASK CHARLIE here in Musician Resources. To send a question for consideration, just email us at

Suzy wrote:

Hello. My name is Suzy and I am currently in college. I am interested in finding out information on the business aspect of music. People have told me that I would need a music business degree but I am unsure what that all entails.

I am interested in working for a record company, especially a Christian oriented record company. The questions I have are oriented to what kind of careers you can pursue if you want to work for a record company, what degree would you need, is it impossible to get a job in this field and are there any big record companies that have internship jobs for students looking for some experience before graduating from college.

With Christ's love,
Suzy N.

Dear Suzy,

The music business, Christian or otherwise, is filled with all kinds of interesting and meaningful vocations. Before I address the kinds of work that make the music business unique, let me remind you that it also contains vocational work common to all business and enterprise. In short, the music business may employ record producers and graphic artists but it also employs accountants and receptionists too.

While you can study to become an MBA or CPA almost anywhere, some of the best music business education is found in the Nashville area. Belmont University and Middle Tennessee State University both offer great educations for anyone interested in the business aspect of music. Berklee in Boston is also an excellent place to learn the business of music. I can tell you that many of the Christian record companies located in Nashville hire a good deal of their workforce from places like Belmont. So be encouraged. A good education in the music business is possible, and yes, the companies you want to work for are eager to hire prepared and talented people.

One of the best ways to begin understanding what kind of work is available in the music business is to pick up a CD of your favorite artist. A CD alone will teach you a great deal. For example, a songwriter wrote the music, a publisher published it, and the song was registered for airplay with either BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC. Someone manufactured the CD for the record company and someone sold it to the retail stores and distributed it out to them across the country. But before that, musicians played on the recording at a recording studio and a receptionist took their calls. Engineers twisted the knobs and marketing, promotion, and publicity folks planned how to get the word out about the recording. Upper management leadership kept the money coming in so everybody would get paid and the recording could be funded. And this is just the beginning. Graphic artists designed the cover and attorneys framed the contracts between record company and artist. In the midst of all this activity, hundreds of assistants with varying titles made it all run smoothly. Truthfully, this is still just a start on all the various employment opportunities available in the music business.

If you are really serious about working for a record company I strongly encourage you to get an education in a city known for music business. Many good schools around the country offer music business courses but few offer the kind of education that prepares a person for the real world of the music business.

Regarding internships, it is best to contact the human resources person at the record company. For further information I suggest you contact the schools I mentioned above. Each of these can be reached via the web. I wish you the best.

{{Charlie Peacock}}

For more Ask Charlie features, view the Musician Resources Interviews archive at

Charlie Peacock, seminary student and author of "At the Crossroads: An Insider's Look At the Past, Present, and Future of CCM" is currently working on a new CD of piano improvisations. The {{Roaring Lambs}} project features a song with Charlie accompanied by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

To send Charlie a question for consideration, just email us at