Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Commercial Music

Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music

Offered By: College of Arts and Media

Where Music Meets Commerce

The Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music program at Grand Canyon University is designed to equip aspiring musicians with comprehensive training spanning the diverse spectrum of music genres within the ever-evolving music industry. This program is centered around the realm of live music performance, offering you a gateway into the dynamic music landscape.

Whether you dream of taking center stage in popular music performance or navigating the intricate domains of music and entertainment business, our program can cater to your aspirations. Within this program, you'll embark on a holistic journey through the music industry. This journey encompasses specialized music training that can harmonize your performing technique while diving into the following:

  • Music theory
  • Music history
  • Sound reinforcement
  • Recording techniques
  • Video production
  • Social media and business

These elements are not just taught; they are imparted through the lens of a distinctively Christian worldview, providing a unique perspective within the framework of a comprehensive Christian education in the arts and sciences.

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Pursue Your Passion as a Commercial Music Major at GCU

As a commercial music major, you will study the ever-changing world of music with a strong emphasis on social media and business aspects. This focus can teach you how to promote your work and navigate the multifaceted music industry landscape.

While our teachings and discussions are deeply rooted in Christian values, this approach fosters exploration at the intersection of music and spirituality, encouraging ethical considerations in the industry while demonstrating how faith can profoundly shape artistic expression. Knowledgeable faculty aim to teach beyond musical talent, encompassing the realm of commercial music and entertainment by:

  • Nurturing global contributors
  • Fostering innovative thinking
  • Enhancing communication skills
  • Cultivating transformative leaders
TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
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TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester [More Info]

Course Topics in the BA Degree in Commercial Music

In the bachelor’s in commercial music program, you can access a wide array of courses cultivating hands-on skills and practical expertise. One of the focal points is sound reinforcement techniques, a fundamental skillset for those aspiring to manage audio systems during live performances. Through immersive learning experiences, students will be taught to manage audio equipment, helping to ensure that every note and nuance reaches the audience with precision and clarity.

This commercial music degree curriculum places an emphasis on the intricacies of recording and video production. These courses can offer valuable insights into the realm of studio work and the art of music video creation. By delving into the basics of recording, you'll study how to capture the essence of a musical composition, opening the door to opportunities for creative expression.

Career Possibilities for Graduates With a BA in Commercial Music Degree

Graduates with a bachelor’s in commercial music can explore a variety of career options within the dynamic music industry. These career avenues may include:

  • Music director
  • Composer
  • Musician
  • Singer

The combination of business knowledge and specialized music training can also prepare you for roles in industries such as music marketing, artist management, event coordination and entrepreneurial ventures within the music and entertainment field. Beyond honing your musical talents, this degree nurtures adaptability, enabling you to potentially grow in the multifaceted and ever-changing music industry.

Major in Commercial Music at an Accredited University

GCU has held institutional accreditation since 1968 when it received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Accreditation is a testament to the strength of a university's program and overall quality of the school. For more information about our accreditations, please visit our accreditation page.

FAQs for Aspiring BA in Commercial Music Majors

Instrumental music is constantly evolving, which may leave you with unanswered questions. Here are some of the most asked questions regarding the Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music degree program.

Yes. The performance and music production skills taught in this BA in Commercial Music degree can serve as a valuable foundation for a professional music career. Songwriting and music business skills will also be taught to allow you the opportunity to pursue your options in a variety of music performance avenues. Furthermore, degrees that may help you develop a deep appreciation of music through performance opportunities may also include a degree in piano music performance and a BA in music with instrumental performance. Or strengthen your vocal skills with a BA in music and voice that may also lead to multiple performance opportunities.

A degree in commercial music can be a valuable investment in your musical journey. It can offer a structured and comprehensive education to help you connect with fellow students, experienced faculty and industry professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, music directors and composers had a median annual wage of $62,940 in May 2022.1 While pursuing a degree incurs costs, the knowledge, skills and credibility acquired may open doors to diverse opportunities in your field of interest. By combining the educational foundation with hands-on experience and remaining adaptable to industry changes, you can step into the world of commercial music production, prepared to pursue your goals.

To venture into commercial music production, consider building a solid educational base in music theory and production techniques, as well as enhancing your creative technical expertise. GCU’s BA in Commercial Music degree uses hands-on experiences and digital audio workstations to create a diverse portfolio to showcase potential employers and colleges. Networking with professionals and pursuing internships can also help upgrade your skills and offer some of these practical opportunities.

This degree can teach you skills that may be used in performing, producing, songwriting and various music business positions such as musician, singer, music director or composer. You may also have the opportunity to pursue options that extend into industries such as teaching, music technology and entrepreneurship within the music industry.

Ready to turn your passion for music into a career? Join our BA in Commercial Music program and study the skills necessary to perform, produce, write songs and seek professionalism in the music business. Unlock your potential in the ever-evolving music industry today.

1 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Music Directors and Composers as of May 2022, retrieved on Sept. 18, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as music director and composers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
76 credits
Open Elective Credits:
4-10 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University’s General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.

Requirements

Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4
  • COM-263, Elements of Intercultural Communication: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments. Students are required to take 3 credits of college mathematics or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • INT-244, World Religions: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This course covers principles of songwriting and arranging for a variety of worship ensembles in the context of contemporary worship music. Contemporary styles, popular song forms, chord progressions, and formation of melodic ideas are further explored. Lyric writing includes developing song ideas, the hook, rhyme scheme, and the use of literary devices. Students compose and arrange songs using DAW, MIDI, and notation software.

Course Description

This course is an introduction and overview to social media tools and techniques. Students apply strategic thinking to the “why” and learn to plan, organize, and create digital content. Case studies will give reference and understanding of the changing landscape in this media market.

Course Description

This course introduces DAW software and challenges students to begin the process of recording multi-track sessions. Students practice tracking, editing, mixing, and producing recordings according to assigned projects. Students practice creating and implementing backing tracks for a worship service. Students are required to provide their own computer and software according to university-outlined program requirements.

Course Description

This course introduces the fundamentals of the advertising industry including basic elements of campaign strategy and design. Students learn the foundational communication and writing skills necessary to create effective campaigns. Contemporary legal and ethical issues in advertising are also addressed. Technology requirement: Students are responsible for providing their own laptop that is capable of running the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This course builds technical knowledge and skills for creating and publishing photographic and video-based content for social media channels. Students learn how to create compelling visual stories for their brands using social media channels.

Course Description

This course introduces popular and commercial music theory. Topics include music notation, key signatures, scales, the Nashville Number System, intervals, modes, diatonic relationships and functions, and chords. Ear-training skills are also included in this course.

Course Description

Communities are built from people sharing together. Students learn to build and evaluate communities using industry standard tools. They create content after understanding the personalities of those communities, and work to motivate those communities toward appropriate outcomes. Prerequisite: DSM-101.

Course Description

This popular and commercial music theory course includes the following topics: chord structures, functions, and substitutions in major and minor keys; analysis of key centers in songwriting, scales and their applications, chord tones, and harmonic extensions; and voice leading, melody harmonization, and their application in contemporary worship music. Ear-training skills are also included in this course. Prerequisite: WSA-300.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the technical and aesthetic aspects of small format digital production as well as the basic principles of motion picture production. Students learn the language of film/digital video and how its manipulation can express one’s individual message or purpose.

Course Description

This course will survey the development of jazz music from its genesis, transformation, and growth to current postmodern practices. The styles are explored through the social identity of the music and musicians.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the commercial music industry. Throughout this course, students will explore, gather, and create resources to aid their journey as entrepreneurial artists. Topics include recording and releasing music, building a fanbase, performing, booking, promotion, touring, sponsorships, investments, leveraging internet resources, film, television, funding, and royalties.

Course Description

This writing intensive course provides an overview of the laws and regulations that apply to advertising, marketing, and media organizations with emphasis on business organization, intellectual property, and regulatory processes. Ethical practices and theory as they apply to the mass media industry are also addressed. Technology requirement: Students are responsible for providing their own laptop that is capable of running the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on www.gcu.edu.

Course Description

This course is a study and application of techniques of scoring and arranging music for various instrumental and vocal ensembles. Programmatic technology requirements apply, as outlined in the University Policy Handbook. Prerequisite: MUS-260 or WSA-301.

Course Description

This course will prepare students for success as creative professionals. Students will research their industry, develop their personal brand, and establish business and entrepreneurial practices.

Course Description

This course covers principles of commercial music arranging. Contemporary styles, popular song forms, chord progressions, and the formation of musical ideas are further explored. Students arrange songs using DAW, MIDI, and notation software. Prerequisite: WSA 302 & WSA 320.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the art of writing musical scores for film. Topics include identifying the various stakeholders in the film industry, musical characterization and concept development, the use of various compositional devices in film scores, orchestration, use of electronic music and contemporary rhythm sections in films and television scores, and entrepreneurial considerations. Prerequisite: WSA 320, WSA 301, MUS 463.

Course Description

This course will explore the use of music technology as a foundation for composing original works in various styles. Prerequisite: WSA-320, WSA-301, MUS-463.

Course Description

This course is a study of the business and professional skills needed for musicians to turn their artistic passion into a profitable career. Topics include the mindset of entrepreneurs, networking and marketing, financial skills, and developing the independent teaching studio. The course culminates in the development of a professional portfolio and/or business plan that is true to the student’s artistic voice.

Course Description

This capstone course provides students an opportunity to develop their skills in an area of interest relevant to the commercial music industry. Students will complete an independent project under faculty supervision.

Locations

GCU Campus Student


Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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