Commercial Music (B.A.)

Program Type: Major
Program Level: Undergraduate
Department: Majors

You’re talented, driven, and ready for a music career that could include anything from performance, instruction, and directing to career management, publishing, booking, or music technology. This is what the Commercial Music program at Upstate is designed to deliver.

Fusing musical artistry with industry know-how for fulfilling and dynamic careers.

A key aspect of the program is its integration of areas like music business, publishing, technology, and education with the development of skills in performance, songwriting, ear training, repertoire, pedagogy, composition, arranging, and improvisation. Along with instruction by accomplished performing musicians and scholars, this will empower you with the broad range of practical skills it takes to succeed in today’s music industry.

You’ll find an array of internship opportunities with organizations and at music festivals throughout the region. You’ll explore popular styles such as rock, R&B, pop, country, funk, jazz, and Latin. And you’ll develop your skills performing with Upstate ensembles including the Commercial Music Combo, Jazz Combo, Guitar Ensemble, and Upstate Vocal Ensemble.

For more information, visit the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

  • During the first two years of study, Commercial Music majors at Upstate focus on performance, basic musicianship skills (theory, ear training, keyboard) and rock history. Years three and four include specialized courses such as Composition, Music Business, Music Technology, Songwriting and many others. Students take one-on-one lessons on their primary instrument and perform in ensembles throughout their time at Upstate.

    The program culminates with a performance/research project on a topic chosen by the student. Recent senior projects have included the study of 90s alt-rock, Black Sabbath, country vocal techniques, The Killers, Led Zeppelin, Tool, and Usher.

  • A few of the careers paths once a degree is awarded include: Touring musician, freelance musician, cruise-ship musician, arranger, composer/songwriter, solo artist or band manager, tour manager, popular music scholar.

  • Some of our students have held internships with organizations such as:

    • Blues Blvd. (live music club)
    • Melting Pot Music Festival
    • McFearlis Music (studio and artist management)
    • Treefalls New Music