Undergraduate Admission Blog

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October 13, 2016

Ms. BB Goes Back to School…as a Music Industry Major!

Though I LOVED studying English in college (it’s useful—I promise!), I’m a little curious about all of the other majors out there.  What if I had chosen to study something entirely different?  Would time and space be irrevocably altered?! Probably not, but at the very least I would have had a totally different college experience.  I decided the only way to know was to “go back” to school…this time as a Music Industry major!

I feel like our choice in glasses accurately reflect our choice in majors...

Quinn and me: I feel like our choice in glasses accurately reflect our choice in majors…

I have known Quinn Kurzner since I worked at his high school several years ago.  Maybe it’s because we go way back, maybe it’s because this blog is so highly regarded, or maybe it’s because he is a really nice person; whatever the reason, Quinn graciously allowed me to shadow him a couple of weeks ago so I could see what it would have been like if I had gone to USC as a Music Industry major.  Dressed in a USC shirt and flip-flops (a.k.a. student incognito), I sat in on one of his classes, MUIN 475—Advanced Concert Management.  That’s right…it was straight to the big leagues!  Professor Mike Garcia’s class was a whole new world for me.  The day’s focus was ticket sales and the negotiations between concert promoters, artists, and venues.  It was a lot to cover for someone who has only been to one real concert (Bruuuuuuuuuce!), but the Professor tied in so many different ideas it was easy to pick a lens that allowed me to see the material clearly.

If you’ve been to a USC admission presentation, you’ve likely heard us boast about our interdisciplinary approach to learning.  I was able to get a taste of that in just one class!  As the professor and students went back and forth with their ideas, they touched on everything from Ohm’s law to dynamic pricing models to Anderson .Paak.  I was very impressed by Professor Garcia’s expertise, but also by the professional knowledge the students had.  As they drew on examples from their own internships, jobs, and concert-going experiences, I could see the way L.A.’s music scene played a key role in their Thornton education.  We at USC always talk about how the city is our classroom, and I could see that first hand.

I could literally go on and on about Advanced Concert Management…but I don’t want to give away any trade secrets, and there’s more to being a music industry major than just one class!  So what else do music industry majors do?  I asked Quinn…

  • They jam on instruments:  One of the major’s requirements is six units of theory/instrument study.  Quinn took two semesters of piano and is currently learning guitar.  He was a percussionist in high school, so he’s appreciating the chance to finally learn about musical notes!
  • They do their homework: Quinn’s study group had just wrapped up a project planning a 20 city tour for a band.  They researched everything from which markets were popular to the price of hotels to labor regulations for bus drivers!  In last year’s Live Music Production and Promotion course, Quinn’s group produced a live show that was also a pool party!  It’s very obvious that the assignments are engaging, productive, and informative for the students.
  • They take Pop Forum: This class—a two semester requirement for all Popular Music, Music Industry, and Music Production majors—is a venue for students to learn from guest speakers.  Most recently, Quinn attended a lecture by a guitar manufacturer and had access to an advanced screening of the new Beatles documentary, 8 Days a Week.
  • They have internships: After the Palladium’s production manager presented to one of his classes, Quinn followed up and (long story short) interned this summer.  Though some people start in the music industry without any formal study, Quinn believes his USC education sets him apart.  While an internship is a learning experience, Quinn says, “I’m not there just to be taught.  I’m there to contribute.”
  • They do all the normal things USC students do: Though involved with music through his coursework, internships, and role on the Concert Committee’s executive board, Quinn also makes the time to be involved in his fraternity and hopes to go abroad this spring.

Having known Quinn as a high school student, it was reassuring to see that his passion for music hasn’t wavered.  He has always been driven and focused, and the Music Industry major in Thornton is so clearly the perfect fit for him.  Though he’s not exactly sure what he wants to do after graduating, the general business/entrepreneurial skills he has acquired, along with the industry specific knowledge he has gained, will support him as he follows a career in the field of live music.  Rock on, Quinn!

So what were my take aways?

  • The music industry major probably isn’t the right fit for me (I’m still not sure who this Anderson .Paak is), but it’s an absolutely amazing path for entrepreneurial students with a passion for music.
  • All of those points we admission counselors highlight (interdisciplinary study, engaging professors, urban learning, etc.) are actually present in the everyday lives of our students!  When you are writing your short answer about how you plan to pursue your major at USC, these are really good points to touch on.
  • I really want to go to a concert that’s also a pool party!