Commercial Music

Program Type: Major
Program Level: Undergraduate
Department: Majors

Whereas traditional music-degree programs focus on classical and/or jazz, the B.A. in Commercial Music program at USC Upstate covers many popular music styles such as rock, R&B, pop, country, funk, jazz, latin, etc. Ensembles such as the Commercial Music Combo, Jazz Combo, Guitar Ensemble, and the Upstate Vocal Ensemble perform a variety of repertoire. Commercial music-based courses such as songwriting, music business, music technology and popular music studies prepare students for work in the music industry. Students work with a strong faculty of performing musicians and leading scholars.

The mission of the Bachelor of Arts in commercial music is to provide an experiential learning environment that prepares the student for careers in performing, private instruction, music directing, career management, publishing, booking or working with technology in contemporary and diverse professional music settings.
With the ever-growing array of opportunities available in performance, education, recording, publishing, and technology, the commercial music field demands skills that incorporate knowledge of practical music theory, ear training, contemporary music repertoire, pedagogy, composition, arranging, improvisation, technology, history, and music business. The curriculum of the Bachelor of Arts in commercial music at USC Upstate is structured to provide the student a thorough understanding of these skills.

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