by Gina Ellis
Are you a music producer? Do you want to be? Learning your way around Logic, Fruity Loops, and Ableton is no easy feat. Even if you have great ideas, you may struggle due to a lack of technical know-how and proper guidance. If you’re looking to elevate your production, finally learn your way around a mixing board, or even earn a music production degree, then it might be worth looking into further education.
Here is our list of the top music production schools and colleges from all across the world.
Yes, we get it. We decided to start this list close to home and express why 343 Labs is, in fact, one of the best schools for music production in the world. An Ableton Certified educator, 343 labs offers comprehensive instruction on how to achieve your potential as a producer. Both online music production courses and in-person learning at the New York campus are available. With the exact same courses offered in both mediums of learning, you can get everything you need to become a working producer from 343 Labs wherever you are in the world.
With Ableton-specific courses covering everything from Producing Your First Track to Creating Your Own Sound, mastery of the software should come in no time. Other courses cover the use of Logic Pro and various other aspects of production, including Electronic Composition & Arrangement. Basically, 343 Labs has everything you need to become a virtual virtuoso.
With class sizes kept to a minimum, 343 Labs ensures that every student gets the attention that they need. Their instructors are shared between the online and in-person classes, so everyone’s experience is as similar as possible. 343 Labs is not just an educational institute but a community and a space for sharing ideas.
343 Labs sees itself as a “music accelerator” speeding up the process to allow you to achieve your potential. Their students have access to industry connections and the opportunities that they offer. Post-graduation students are known for releasing on labels, playing at NYC nightclubs, and continuing mentorship with the staff. Instructors include underground techno legend John Selway, and long-standing house and tech DJ Abe Duque.
Making music is a science, so don’t be afraid to get in the lab.
The BIMM, or the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, is a collection of eight university campuses across England, Ireland, and Germany. BIMM offers music production courses, as well as degrees in instrumentation, and other aspects of the industry, such as music journalism. As a student at BIMM’s campuses, you can complete courses at a national diploma level, as well as being able to earn degrees and masters. Established over 35 years ago, BIMM is renowned for the industry access that they offer their students.
Whether studying in Bristol, Dublin, or Hamburg, students of BIMM can hone their musical skills with the first-hand experience in focused courses or joint honors degrees. Specialist subjects include Electronic Music Production, Songwriting, and Popular Music Practice, while combination courses such as Popular Music Performance & Music Business are also available.
With courses taught by passionate lecturers and masterclasses from industry professionals, it’s no wonder that BIMM has many notable alumni. Famous former students include popular singer-songwriter George Ezra, indie rock icons Fontaines D.C., and pop star Ella Mai.
With certifications and partnerships to teach with everything from Ableton software to Zildjian cymbals, BIMM is a comprehensive school of music. A heavy emphasis at BIMM is on the employability of their students after graduation. Internships at DIY Magazine, experiences at ATC Management, and roles working with The Great Escape Festival are just some of the ways that the BIMM could connect you to the active industry. They also run their own Talent Match app to make it easy for employers to find suitable alumni for work.
Locations: Berlin, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Dublin, Hamburg, London, Manchester.
If looking for music production schools online, perhaps Full Sail University is the place for you. While having a physical campus with excellent facilities based in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University is known worldwide for the quality of its online and hybrid courses. Not just a music production school, Full Sail also teaches courses in Art & Design, Film & Television, and Game development, amongst others, including Business and Technology.
Offering courses at an accelerated rate, Full Sail takes pride in getting students through graduation in roughly half the time it takes to complete a typical undergraduate degree. And with the flexible nature of their online courses, you can access the relevant materials in whatever time zone they are learning in.
Full Sail’s online courses are built around real-world projects and teachings from industry professionals just as they would be on campus. You would also be provided with Project Launchbox™, giving you access to professional music production software.
Full Sail offers a Music Production bachelor’s both online and on-campus, while their Audio Production equivalent is only available online. A Recording Arts degree is also available for students on campus, as well as shorter certificate courses. These courses break down the technical ins and outs of the industry, allowing you to learn while working in a hands-on capacity.
Alumni of Full Sail have gone on to win Grammys and Oscars, as well as working with top musical artists such as Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, amongst many more impressive industry feats.
Located in the USA’s capital city, the American University is one of the top 100 colleges in the country. Alongside being a distinguished school for business, law, and public affairs, the American University is also known as one of the better audio production schools in the United States. As a musically inclined student, you can focus your efforts on Audio Technology, Audio Production, or traditional Music.
Whichever route you take in music or audio production, you will always be provided with opportunities to work on the right technology. Whether securing a BA, MA, or Undergraduate Certificate, working on the American University campus will allow you access to excellent facilities and lectures from experienced industry professionals.
They have a number of technical rooms that are available for you to use, including a live recording space, a post-production editing suite, and three decked-out mixing board control rooms. Students are also allowed access to the Electronic Music Studio, which is home to a synthesizer collection, including a Moog modular synthesizer, an EMS Synthi, and an Arp 2600, as well as a collection of other MIDI and software-based synthesizers.
Alongside the facilities on campus, the American University is also partnered with local venues to offer students hands-on experience. The Greenberg Theatre is a local performing arts space with audio run by AU students. Similarly, the Katzen Arts Center is used by the Audio Technology department as a sort of training ground for students, as well as being home to a computer classroom. Here, you can access iMac workstations, complete with keyboard controllers on which you can learn and practice your craft.
Plus, being in Washington D.C. means there is an abundance of internships and opportunities for graduates.
Our first entry to the list that is in no way a university, Masterclass, is still a great place to find a music production course online. With the unique selling point of lessons from world-famous industry figureheads, you can learn various creative crafts directly from iconic experts. Even without a degree to show for it, the information picked up from the masterclass can be totally invaluable. With courses condensed into bite-size chunks of information, you can be on your way as a stronger producer in a matter of hours.
One of the courses offered comes from hip-hop legend Timbaland, in which he teaches beat-making and production. This course is split into 15 lessons, covering only 3 hours overall, and offers insight into Timbaland’s own beat-making process. It also features breakdowns of some of his hits and the technical steps in how to create beats and produce music for yourself.
Similarly, EDM titans deadmau5 and Armin Van Buuren also have their own courses, covering the fundamentals of electronic production and dance music, as well as live DJing. They break down the technical aspects of creating synths, as well as nuggets of valuable information about remixing, mastering, and navigating the industry.
No, these courses will not qualify you for any job you want in the industry. But, with the credentials of your teachers, they could be priceless help in improving your own personal productions and musical vision. And as Masterclass works on a membership basis, signing up will give you access to courses across various disciplines, so plenty of bang for your buck.
Fancy learning to cook from Gordon Ramsay? Masterclass has you covered.
With over 50 locations in 20 countries, the SAE Institute is one of the world’s leading educators in creative fields. Founded in 1976 as an audio engineering school, the SAE now also offers courses in music production, 3D animation, game design, digital filmmaking, and more.
Dependent on location, you can earn various qualifications at the SAE, including bachelor’s degrees, associate qualifications, and diplomas. With fast-tracked learning and hands-on industry opportunities, you can make speedy progress on your journey of musical production.
The US branches of the SAE offer Audio Technology degrees that take 32 months to complete. In these courses, you will learn the ins and outs of sound design, studio production, and how to produce live sound, as well as chances to work on video game audio and more. In the UK, the BA can be earned in just 2 years and covers similar aspects of the audio tech industry. SAE awarded degrees in the UK are vetted by Middlesex University, which partnered with the institute to legitimize the qualifications students can earn.
SAE Institutes are known for their high standard of facilities that the students are able to use, as well as focusing their courses on project-based work to expand their portfolio. And like with any course worth its salt, the educators are all experienced experts in their fields.
Notable alumni of the SAE include drum and bass/dubstep anthem machine Rob Swire of Pendulum and Knife Party fame, the Oscar-winning sound engineer behind 2013’s Les Miserables Mark Paterson, and acclaimed Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. With names like these coming out of the SAE, you’d be a fool not to consider applying.
Pyramind is one of the US’s premier music production colleges, with audio technology being their sole focus. Their 12-month program runs both online and from their dedicated campus in San Francisco and is considered by many to be of comparable quality to an undergraduate degree.
Offering both full-time all-day programs, and part-time evening schemes, Pyramind courses are accessible to everyone. Their admissions system is open, and their team is on hand to guide you into the right avenue of their curriculum if you’re not 100% sure where to start.
Their full-time on-campus courses range from 6-12 months in length. They include Electronic Music Production, Sound for Picture and Games, and the Complete Producer package. The latter two both earn students 7 certifications, while the former is considered better for individual artistic development. Their part-time courses are a Music Production Certificate, Music Production with Ableton Live, a DJ/Performance Course, and a joint Production and DJing Certificate. These courses have no time constraints set on their completion.
For those studying online, courses are more condensed. Recorded lectures and tutorials are partnered with 1-1 mentoring sessions to allow you to learn in your own time. The self-led production course is an education in using Logic Pro X, while DJ/Performance, the Indie Artist Business Toolkit, and Vibrational Sound Healing are all available also.
Pyramind was founded by musician Gregory J. Gordon over 20 years ago as a commercial studio and since then has developed into a certified educational institution. With Ableton certification and staff that have worked with the likes of The Beastie Boys and DJ Tiesto, Pyramind is the real deal.
Liveschool is another space dedicated entirely to the production of music. As the first Ableton Certified Training Center, their focus is on building producer’s skills through that production software specifically. This may seem like a limitation; however, their specialist knowledge and partnership with Ableton itself give them a unique edge. Honing their curriculum over the last 16+ years has made Liveschool a highly respected music production school. Offering a variety of full training courses and Ableton-specific modules, you can leave Liveschool with the confidence to create releasable music.
Their main production courses are the Produce Music course, which can run from 42-50 weeks and be completed either on-campus or online, in either part-time or full-time capacity. There’s also an intensive 6-week counterpart version. In this course, you will be guided through the principles of remixing, sound design, music theory, arrangements, and mixing & mastering. Note that these classes only allow for a maximum of 9 students, so if your heart is set on Liveschool, apply early!
The Ableton modules that they offer are essentially workshops that range from the fundamentals of remixing, getting started on production, and the essential skills needed to create. These courses are generally about 12 weeks long, although some 2-week intensive counterparts are also on offer.
Trainers on the courses include up and coming Aussie popstar/producer Ninajirachi, and internationally respected DJ Made in Paris, as well as many more Ableton Certified Trainers. With their on-site facilities stocked with state-of-the-art computers, launchpads, and more, an education at Liveschool is nothing to snub your nose at.
It’s almost too obvious that another of the world’s best music production programs comes out of the city that never sleeps. NYU features two distinct schools of music production. One being the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. The other being the Music Technology program at the Steinhardt branch of the university. Each with their own distinct focuses, both schools are considered amongst the best in the world.
The Steinhardt branch of NYU offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates in Music Technology, with options to fuse the courses. The bachelor’s focus is on sound design and engineering, as well as putting emphasis on liberal arts. If pushing on to a master’s, you will gain multimedia knowledge and experience working on film scoring. And earning a doctorate will educate you in everything you need to know before becoming a university lecturer in this very same field.
The Clive Davis Institute takes a different approach, balancing artistry with entrepreneurialism. Educating anyone on any side of the mixing board is the name of the game in this school founded by production legend and Sony CCO Clive Davis. This institute understands that music production is a multi-headed beast with a lot of moving parts and will nurture you in the direction that suits your skills and ambitions.
Notable alumni of the CDI include Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers and chart-topping songwriter Nija Charles. The Steinhardt branch’s former students include Ebonie Smith, a producer and songwriter who worked on the hit musical Hamilton.
And what’s a better place to start your post-grad career than the big apple?
One of the most prestigious music institutes in the world, alumni of Berklee have earned 310 Grammys since the school’s inception, more than any other college in the world. It’s only natural that this veritable mecca of music is also home to some amazing music production courses.
Getting into Berklee to complete a bachelor’s is usually achieved by an audition, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of the Berklee experience. The school also offers 12-week online courses to the public, as well as multi-course certificates with no applications necessary.
The production-specific bachelors include Music Production, Electronic Music Production and Sound Design, Songwriting, as well as an option to create your own major, among others. With 16 studios, sound stages, and editing suites, Berklee offers one of the best-facilitated courses in the world.
The public courses vary in difficulty and requirements. Beginners courses include Critical Listening, and Learning to DJ with Traktor, while those reserved for graduates include Advanced Mixing Techniques and Commercial Vocal production. On these courses, you can pay a little more tuition to earn university credits.
With a staff including Prince Charles Alexander, an engineer who’s worked with Destiny’s Child, The Notorious B.I.G., and Usher, to name a few, you can be confident that you are in good hands at Berklee. Studying at Berklee, you will be sharing a space that’s been occupied by Quincy Jones, John Mayer, and St Vincent, among many others. Pretty good company if you ask us.
Written In Partnership With Ascend
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