The Daily Gamecock

USC's Music Industry Studies program aims to produce well-rounded students through experiential opportunities

<p>FILE - Lead singer of the band Bad Blood Hope Overlook plays the guitar during a performance at Plazapolooza on Oct. 2, 2023. Overlook started the band in September 2023.</p>
FILE - Lead singer of the band Bad Blood Hope Overlook plays the guitar during a performance at Plazapolooza on Oct. 2, 2023. Overlook started the band in September 2023.

USC's Music Industry Studies Program provides students with opportunities across the country to prepare them for careers in all aspects of the music industry.

The program is meant to first provide students with education about musical theory and performance. Students are then given the opportunity to experience different parts of the music industry, such as recording, producing, managing music venues and more. 

Jeremy Polley, coordinator and future director of the music industry studies program, said success in the music industry comes from being as well-rounded as possible. Polley is a guitarist, songwriter and singer, and has been in many bands. This has given him extensive experience with many parts of the industry and makes him more qualified for the position, he said. 

Polley said the students in the program manage and run their own local events and organizations, giving them management experience and networking opportunities in the industry

"Hopefully when they graduate, they have their cell phone, handy rolodex of people they went to college with they could call up if they needed somebody to help them out with something," Polley said. 

The students recently had a performance at The New Brookland Tavern, where they managed all parts of the performance, from the sound to the promotion of the event. 

"They're also working (in) teams. So they're working with people they're performing with. They're working with the marketing people. They're working with the sound people. They're building those connections," Polley said.

Although the program was only started in fall of 2021, Polley said there is a vast range of students interested in the program — from those wanting to be songwriters and music producers to those looking to do publishing and licensing at record labels. 

Music industry studies instructor and recording engineer David Baker takes students across the country for experiential learning trips to give students a taste of working professionally. 

Baker said he and Polley have taken students to trade shows across the country, such as the National Association of Music Merchants (otherwise known as NAMM). Students have also been able to visit recording studios to work with artists, as well as manage large music festivals in Daytona Beach and Sacramento.

Baker said he brought students up to a studio in Nashville, Tennessee,to help artist Andrew Dixon produce an acoustic version of one of his previously released songs.

"We recorded the guitars. Students played the piano. They sang background vocals. They helped arrange the parts, write the parts. And they recorded the parts all in a real studio in Nashville with a real artist," Baker said. "I brought it back to my place. We mixed it, and it got released on Andrew's label."

Baker said students get ample experience working locally around campus by managing the university's record label as well as all parts of the Live at the Underground program in Russell House. They also have performances at local venues including New Brookland Tavern, Gamecock Entertainment and Colonial Life Arena.

Although the program is considered a liberal arts program by the university, USC's School of Music Dean Tayloe Harding said it should be viewed more as a preparation degree due to the experiences it provides. 

"It is very much a professional training and preparation degree because students are getting jobs in the music industry as they're exiting the program," Harding said. 

Given the number of students interested in all parts of the music industry, Harding said he and the rest of the program staff decided to create three new tracks within the bachelor's degree for students to hone in more on specific subjects.

Harding said these tracks will not be put into place until fall of 2025, as they are still figuring out the curriculum and content for each track.

"The doing is the biggest thing. Not being able to do — it really removes the chances for future success, in my opinion. So you have to be able to go out and do," Polley said. "The beauty of it is the lack of specification."



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