Music (Popular Music), BA

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Are you interested in a career in the modern music industry? This flexible bachelor's degree program allows you to choose from multiple specializations and includes four semesters of applied study, with internships and a capstone project.

The popular music concentration within the BA program in music at Arizona State University welcomes and accommodates 21st century musicians interested in popular music, music industry studies and entrepreneurship. This includes singers and songwriters, laptop performers, producers, composers, instrumentalists, vocalists and musicians whose practices and playing styles are representative of varied popular music idioms. Students can elect to choose either the performer or non-performer track, following the flexible major map to cater to their desired experience.

All students in this concentration develop general musicianship and foundational skills which prepare them to specialize in areas of study which include songwriting, production, composition, performance, engineering, sound design, live sound and event production, music business, popular music education and advocacy work. Students participate in both group and individual applied study in chosen specializations, augmented by yearly special programing and opportunities. All students gain a working knowledge of the music industry and music business, and the entrepreneurial skills necessary to gain meaningful employment upon graduation.

Internship courses provide opportunities for students to apply their learning in a real-life context and begin building relationships. A capstone senior year allows students to work more intimately with faculty on perfecting their craft as well as preparing for the shift from ASU to the industry.

Students are required to have a personal laptop capable of running a digital audio workstation, and they may need to purchase music software applications depending on their specialization.

Students attend classes at the Downtown Phoenix campus.

At A Glance

Music (Popular Music), BA

Required Courses

A major map outlines a major's critical requirements, courses, and optimal course sequence and aids students in remaining on track to graduation.

While circumstances vary between students and their paths towards graduation (utilizing placement testing to fulfill required math or foreign language courses, fulfilling multiple General Studies requirements with one course, etc.), completing the courses listed in a major map fulfills all of the requirements for graduation.

Application requirements

All students are required to meet general university admission requirements:

Affording college

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Financial Aid
ASU has many financial aid options. Almost everyone, regardless of income, can qualify for some form of financial aid. In fact, more than 70 percent of all ASU students receive some form of financial assistance every year.

Admission requirements

Audition Process for admittance to BA in Music (Popular Music) concentration:

Artist Statement:
All auditioning students must submit an artist statement explaining both their current work and vision of their future work in popular music. A minimum of 250 words is required.

Live auditions or recorded auditions are required for admission to the BA program in popular music and for placement in MUP 111 Studio Instruction in popular music. A live audition consists of a 15-minute performance or presentation consisting of three to five selections of live or digital music performance. The selections may be original works or selections from popular music repertoire. The audition also includes scales, improvisation and aural skills. Students may also provide a recorded sample of their creative popular music work if they so choose.

For students seeking to pursue popular music performance, a live or recorded performance video is required for at least part of the audition. For other disciplines in which a video is not possible (studio recording, music creation and composition), students are required to submit a digital audio sound recording of three to five selections.

The audition also includes a live or remote interview. A live audition is preferred. Applicants who are unable to visit the campus for a live audition may upload a recorded audition to the School of Music, Dance and Theatre application. These students will be contacted by faculty to arrange a remote interview.

Students interested in pursuing classical music lessons are required to follow the classical repertoire audition requirements for MUP 111 Studio Instruction in addition to auditioning for MUP 111 Studio Instruction in popular music.

Career outlook

Example careers

Students who complete this degree program may be prepared for the following careers. Advanced degrees or certifications may be required for academic or clinical positions. Career examples include but are not limited to:

Career*growth*median salary
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary 5.6%$69,690
Talent Directors 10%$76,400
Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers-2.3%$67,120
Music Directors and Composers1.7%$52,250
Musicians and Singers0.9%*
Public Relations Managers
Public Relations Specialists 7.2%$62,810
Sound Engineering Technicians 6%$53,520
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes 11.8%$75,420

* Data obtained from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) under sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA).

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