Independent Music Production BA (Hons)
Integrate artistry with technology, practical studio skills with project management and artist development with business enterprise.
Developments in digital technology have opened up new opportunities and alternatives to the traditional idea of getting signed by a record label. This programme is for the DIY musician whose focus is on themselves as the artist. It is for singer-songwriters, solo musicians and band members who want to become experts with production technology and write, produce, market and release their own music successfully.
- Available in Clearing
100% of Music Production graduates were in employment or further education within six months. DLHE 2017
- UCAS Code – J932
- Location – York campus
- Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
- Start date – September 2019, September 2020
- School – Performance & Media Production
Minimum Entry Requirements
88 UCAS points
3 GCSEs Graded at C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language
UK and EU 2019-20 £9,250 per year
International 2019-20 £12,750 per year
The York St John Experience
This degree is one of a suite of Music Production programmes which share the same core ideals and each offer a different specialist focus in the field. Independent Music Production focuses on producing and selling your own music, enabling students to learn the creative application of advanced sound engineering techniques and software processes and use their knowledge to independently produce and sell their own marketable music products.
All of our studio facilities use Pro Tools and Logic Pro X, and are equipped with a wide array of classic and contemporary microphones. We also have a number of portable recording rigs based around Apple MacBook Pro computers and RME interfaces, ensuring students are able to make modern flexible choices in their recording projects. The studios are fitted with Thunderbolt switches to allow students to dock their own laptops to use with all of the studio equipment.
Music production is a dynamic and fascinating industry that is ever-changing. To provide you with the greatest insight into the industry, we have strong connections with professionals who regularly speak to our students. A series of group workshops give you the opportunity to delve more deeply into these issues in a practical way. Our aim is to give you a truly inspiring and challenging experience. Studio trips are also organised for Level three students, including a trips to iconic sites such as Abbey Road Studios and Valley Wood Studios.
Compulsory modules include:
- Independent Music Production Portfolio (30 credits)
This module is delivered in small group tutorials where the focus is on your creative output and the formation of your professional identity as an independent music producer. You will draw together specific skills learned in other modules and deploy them holistically in the creation of marketable music products that embody your artistic personality.
- Sound Engineering and Music Technology (20 credits)
This practical module provides you with essential knowledge of the techniques and technology for music production, using both analogue recording studio hardware and Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools and Logic Pro. Key tasks covered include recording, editing, comping, sequencing, signal processing, sampling and synthesis.
- Introduction to Production Musicology (20 credits)
This module is about the academic field of music production. By studying key historical and theoretical sources in reference to seminal recordings you will gain the tools for analytical and critical thinking that will ultimately inform your creative and practical work.
- Making Music (10 credits)
The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of music as the raw material of production. You will learn the rudiments of melody, harmony, rhythm and structure and how to apply them creatively in a variety of composition tasks.
- Critical Listening Skills (10 credits)
This introduces one of the fundamental skills required of any worker in the music industry – the ability to listen critically to a sound source and accurately determine its component material. You will learn to identify sounds and treatments applied in existing productions, enabling you to effectively apply them within your own productions.
- 21st Century Music Business (10 credits)
This module provides you with a contextual understanding of the contemporary music business. By considering how key music industry institutions, legal frameworks and record labels have developed, you will gain a solid foundation for working in the 21st Century music industry and media industries.
- Project Management and Productivity (10 credits)
A key transferable skill of the music producer is the effective management of time, resources and talent in the organisation of large scale recording projects, album releases, studio installs and live events. Therefore you will study project and time management, evaluating a range of methods and techniques so that you can develop your own personal productivity systems best suited to you needs
- Sound and Acoustics (10 credits)
You will gain a fundamental understanding of sound and acoustic theory and apply the knowledge in various recording and listening environments. You will be able to illustrate how a music studio, such as your own facilities, should be designed or arranged for the best acoustic response.
Compulsory modules include:
- Developing Your Independent Music Production Portfolio (40 credits)
In this module you will continue to develop your identity as an independent artist, drawing together the skills learned in other modules to produce a portfolio of your music. You will work on some projects with our industry clients acting as executive producers, label representatives or commercial clients.
- Studio recording and Computer-Based Production (20 credits)
Following from the technical skills gained at Level 1 this practical module develops a more advanced knowledge and understanding of recording skills, building confidence in using the mixing console and key Digital Audio Workstations. Areas covered include creative mic techniques; mixing in a variety of situations; handling a large scale recording session; and mastering.
- Critical Studies in Music Production (20 credits)
This module builds upon the academic foundations established in Introduction to Production Musicology. At this level you will engage in contemporary debates and discussions regarding the art and practice of record production, and demonstrate an increasing level of sophistication when making an argument and articulating your research findings in academic writing.
- Composing and Arranging (10 credits)
Following from the Making Music module you will expand your musical understanding with arrangement theory and practice, exploring the use of various sonic textures and how they can be combined for particular effect. Topics covered may include writing for drum and bass, harmonising a melody, constructing a sound world and creating a hook.
- Developing a Producer’s Ear (10 credits)
This module continues to develop your appreciation of the core skill of the professional music producer – their ability to listen and accurately identify and communicate what they hear. You will develop an understanding of the importance of audio reproduction and media consideration (e.g. vinyl, CD, high definition, etc.), along with an understanding of the importance of monitor design, amplifier design, listening environments, and listener placement.
- Marketing and PR for the Independent Musician (10 credits)
You will investigate the marketing and publicity processes and techniques used for selling music products. You will gain a thorough overview of press relations, online strategies and general promotion practices before developing an effective marketing and PR strategy for yourself or an artist you are working with.
Choose one optional module to achieve 120 credits at Level 2.
Optional modules may include:
- Music Production for the Moving Image (10 credits)
You will examine the ways in which music combines with the moving image to create meaning in film and television production. You will study the functions of music in narrative film, learning film music composition and production techniques and using them to create music to be synced with specific moving image productions.
- Sound Design for the Moving Image (10 credits)
This module requires you to apply your production skills in the creation and manipulation of non-musical sound in film and television production. Through practical work and the analysis of case studies you will develop an understanding of key sound design elements, such as production sound; foley; dialogue editing; spot effects; sound effects and atmospheres.
- Electronic Music (10 credits)
This module will introduce creative and technological practices fundamental to the production of electronic music. You will learn about specific genres of electronic production and study the work of influential artists, as well as producing music in a specific electronic genre in response to a client’s brief or label requirements.
- Interactive Music Production (10 credits)
This module give you the opportunity to engage in research and practice in the field of interactive music production. You will explore alternative controllers, breaking away from the traditional interfaces of the MIDI based piano keyboard by exploring alternative means to generate sound, ultimately creating an interactive music production instrument or installation.
Compulsory modules include:
- Independent Music Production Project (60 credits)
This module represents the culmination of the development of your music production potential and your understanding of music product promotion. In this module you will draw together all your creative, technical and contextual understanding in the creation of a substantial music product with a marketing release strategy for it.
- Advanced Mixing and Mastering (20 credits)
This module considers the role of mixing audio as an artform, with unique artistic elements and processes. You will build up your mixing skills to an advanced specialist level using modern and classic techniques. You will also cover the specific skills of mastering and use your techniques and strategies to create professional audio productions.
- Progressing Your Music Production Career (20 credits)
This module supports your Professional Development Planning for your future after University. You will develop a grounded career plan based on your personal aspirations and careful research of your chosen area, so that you can go confidently into the world with a solidly researched and realistic action plan for the years after graduation.
- Independent Music Production Research Project (20 credits)
This module enables you to focus on a topic of your choice from your Independent Music Production studies. You will explore this through analysis, experimentation, theory and practice and articulate your research findings in an academic journal article.
Teaching & Assessment
From the day you start with us we consider you to be a working Music Producer and this approach informs our relationship with you. We deliberately keep our group sizes small so that staff can get to know you and your creative personality in detail, and therefore better support your individual needs and aspirations. You will be taught your art through small group seminars such as production meetings, studio skills workshops, recording sessions, composition workshops, discussion groups, practical tutorials, producer feedback supervisions, business seminars, music focus groups, and one-to-one mentoring.
Music Production programmes at York St John take a very practical approach to teaching and learning. We know that the best way to learn music production is by immersing yourself in the craft and producing a lot of music. In Years 1 and 2 you will be taught the core skills and theory in the smaller modules, and then bring it all together in the portfolio modules, producing your own creative work and getting detailed feedback in small weekly seminar groups. As we cover topics with increasing complexity you will be able to reflect on your learning and apply it directly to your ongoing productions and new projects as they happen, thereby continually developing and improving your practice. Most of the modules span across 2 semesters to allow the learning space for experimentation, reflection and refinement before your portfolio work is assessed. This culminates in Music Production Project in year 3, where you will receive dedicated one-to-one supervision in the development of your agreed project.
Your contact hours vary depending on the module and the best way of delivering the content. For example, for the more technically based modules such as Sound Engineering and Music Technology you have 4 hours a week in studio skills sessions; for the music modules such as Composing and Arranging you have an hour a week workshop; and for academic skills modules such as Critical Studies in Music Production you have a 2 hour lecture/discussion group every week. In addition to the timetabled hours you can book the studio spaces to enhance your skills, produce your own personal projects, and to try out techniques covered in the taught sessions or that you have discovered through your own research.
In Year 3 there is less group teaching as you become a more independent learner and your needs become more individual. At this point you are assigned supervisors who work with you one-to-one on your Music Production Project and Research Project.
Outside of timetabled sessions you are expected undertake directed reading and practical work around the topics being covered. Each module has a reading list that you are expected to engage with in order to support the taught sessions. For example, it is common for you to be asked to read a set chapter in a key text, or do a particular practical exercise, in between sessions. Many of the books and journal articles are available electronically and can be accessed from anywhere via the Information Learning Services website. You will do most of your creative productions in your self-study time and often this will include improving your work following feedback and direction from your seminar group, professional client, or tutor.
Our staff have ongoing professional profiles as music producers and/or run businesses that constantly inform the ethos and teaching on our programmes. Staff members are active recording and mix engineers, and we have a range of specialists: a professional songwriter, a mastering engineer, a silent film composer, a touring session musician, a sound designer, a studio designer, a DJ, and several published authors of production musicology and music technology textbooks. As well as this you will be working with our network of Industry Partners who will be your professional clients, artists, and label associates on some projects.
Assessments are mostly through practical coursework projects. Critical work may be written essays, journal articles or presentations and there are some ’tests’ with regard to aural and studio skills, but no exams. As this programme is based in ‘real-world’ experience, the assessments, particularly practical ones, are aimed at reflecting what is expected in the music industry. The course is structured around a cycle of continuing reflective development, and part of that is receiving meaningful feedback every week in your small group production seminars.
The minimum entry requirements for this course are:
88 UCAS Tariff points
3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language
Terms and conditions
Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.
Fees and funding
To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay will depend on whether you're a UK & EU student or an international (non-EU) student. Tuition fees are charged for each year of your course.
Find out more about funding for Foundation Year and/or Placement Year by visiting the Funding Advice pages of our website. York St John offer special reductions to students graduating from York St John University Undergraduate degrees in 2019 and continuing directly onto Postgraduate study. Find out more about discounts and scholarships. There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation
Home / EU students
The York St John University tuition fee for the 2019 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE Primary and Secondary and UG Health Programme degrees is £9,250 per year for UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.
Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.
The York St John University tuition fee for the 2019 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE degrees is £12,750 per year for international students.
Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.
Additional costs and financial support
Whilst studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.
For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad webpages.