Debating whether or not to further your music education? Are you on the edge of high school, gripping your seat in your 6th period class, agonizing over your future? If you have “professional musician” on the radar, you may not need to look outside of Denver. The city is home to the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado – Denver, which houses the Music and Entertainment Industry Studies (MEIS) program. MEIS is one of the few music departments in the country that offers a contemporary focus in music. We’ve outlined a few perks the University offers, and what makes it innovative in crafting the careers of future music professionals.

Photo courtesy of CU Denver Music and Entertainment Industry Studies Department’s Facebook page.

Emphasis Areas

MEIS offers four undergraduate emphasis areas interested students may major in: music business, music performance, recording arts and singer/songwriter.

Music Business

Studying music business, students learn the skills needed to navigate the complicated network that is the music industry. According to CU Denver’s website, music business alumni have found work in music publishing, tour management, venue work, music and entertainment law, digital music marketing and entrepreneurship. Learning music law, as well as the general ins-and-outs of the industry, is a great first step for those interested in making a footprint in a world dedicated to blending practicality with creativity.

Music Performance

Location, location, location — an advantage of CU-Denver’s music program is how close it is to the life and hub of Denver’s music scene, as well as the opportunities for performances within it. The CAM Ensemble Festival will be held 11 a.m. through 8 p.m. on April 30 and will feature performing art students on Auraria Campus. The event is open to the public.

Recording Arts

Music producers in the making, this is for you. Studying recording arts prepares graduates for work as audio engineers who are fluent in both acoustic recording and editing. As stated on the College of Arts & Media’s website, recording arts students move beyond technical problem-solving in audio and delve into creative music-mixing strategies, building credible portfolios along the way. Among other accomplishments by graduates, CU-Denver alum Tim Kimmel won a Grammy for his sound editing on hit television series “Game of Thrones.”

The new kid in town for both Performance and Recording Arts is Electronic Digital Instrument (EDI), a choice of instrument in either emphasis that allows students to learn about one of the most contemporary forms of music — electronic. As opposed to schooling that focuses on classical forms of music training, EDI students can ride the new wave and declare EDI their primary instrument of study, according to Alice Crogan, director of marketing and communications at the College of Arts & Media.


Those who wish to pursue careers as singer/songwriters or accompanists have a leg up in the competition through the mentorship they receive from faculty in the MEIS program. The University cites “collaboration” as the main advantage students gain from studying this emphasis area, as they have opportunities to work with faculty and students in other areas of MEIS to create music. Singer/songwriter students can find success in studio musicianship, writing jingles, and music education, among other careers. Chloe Tang is a graduate of the singer/songwriter program at CU Denver.

Outside of the Classroom

An important element to note about the MEIS program is the way it integrates itself into the city, pulling from existing musical resources, then throwing some fresh ones back in. MEIS gives back to its community through events such as the LYNX National Arts and Media Camp, which offers high school students hands-on experience in the industry, as well as public performances on Auraria Campus.

As we all know, a college degree is not a pre-requisite for success as a professional musician, and it would be redundant to list the plethora of professional musicians who have become icons without any formal education. But for those wanting an education in the field they plan to dedicate their life to — or those on the fence about choosing a major the parents want you to pursue, vs. one in music — you’d be wise to take a stroll through the College of Arts & Media school and see what Denver has to offer, right under your nose.

Find more information on the College of Arts & Media’s website.