Commercial Music

Programs of Study

We offer both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Commercial Music. The programs are designed to provide a rigorous multi-disciplinary training and real-world experience to prepare students to successful careers in the field. Located in Los Angeles, the program offers the advantage of a geographic proximity with a multitude of opportunities in the industry. Students learn from a highly experienced and talented faculty body who are active professionals in the commercial music field.

BM Degree

The Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music allows students to work in the areas of composition and arranging, songwriting, performance, and music technology. The degree includes private lessons with experienced pros in the field as well as extensive coursework, live performance experience, and studio recording.

Music making is collaborative. Thus, in addition to in-depth training in each area, there is a strong emphasis in our degree program on cross-training. We expect our composers to be performers and to understand recording and mixing; our performers take introductory courses in film scoring, songwriting, recording, mixing, and using DAWs; and our students interested in music technology to perform and learn scoring and songwriting basics.

MM Degree

The Master of Music in Commercial Music allows advanced students to receive master’s degrees through a coursework that challenges and enhances their musicianship and understanding of music making within the context of today’s popular music industry. It provides multi-disciplinary tools and skills so the student can be ready to work and navigate an increasingly complex and competitive environment for music professionals. Our MM students do not do theses; rather, they create Graduate Projects reflecting their chosen focus – performance, songwriting, film-scoring and production, for example. These may include a film score, and CD, and/or a recital. Many of our graduates have gone on to increasingly successful careers as composers, performers and producers in the commercial music world. Others are now teaching in college environments passing on their knowledge and skills to the next generation of musicians. Whether your interests are in composing and arranging, performing, producing, or teaching, the Master of Music program in Commercial Music will prepare you with the skills and knowledge that will allow you to be successful in this competitive field.

Flexible Degree Options

Our program is flexible. Students focusing on Composition/Arranging may work primarily on scoring for film, TV, and games, or they may take a Singer/Songwriter path, or focus primarily on Record Production and Arranging. Students focusing on Performance are encouraged to participate not only in our Commercial Music Ensemble, but to explore the other performance opportunities offered by the Music Department such as the various jazz ensembles, Afro-Latin ensembles, choral ensembles, and more. Students focusing on Music Technology have opportunities to record not only rock and pop and R&B and Singer/Songwriter style music, but the jazz ensembles, concert band, choirs and chamber music.

Real-world creation

In addition to student recitals and projects, our program includes one year of Studio Practicum, where students take what they’ve learned and work together in our studios to create professional-level content. The class includes students focusing in composition and arranging, record production, engineering and mixing, songwriting, and vocal and instrumental performance. There is no lecture component: it’s 100% collaborative creation, with each student contributing their specialized skills and training.

The Role of the Artist

In addition to skills-based training and creativity, we believe that to be a truly great artist one must know and cherish the works of the greats who have paved the way. It is also incumbent on a true artist to be a voice for change within the culture when necessary, and to create works that “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable;” in other words, to sow mindfulness and compassion in those who listen. To that end, our program also includes course work in history, aesthetics, and seeks to provide our students with a critical understanding of popular music and its role in society and culture.

Finding Your Voice

The ultimate goal of the rigorous training we provide is to give the student the tools to navigate the challenges presented by this ever-changing industry, to find their own creative voice, and to move beyond training and technique to a place of truly relevant creativity.

Audition Requirements

An audition is required for admission into the BM and MM in Commercial Music. More information about applying to Cal State LA and the audition process may be found below.

Please contact the Commercial Music area coordinator, Prof. JP Marcondes-Mourao, with any additional questions.