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So You Want to be a RIM Student?

Department of Recording Industry students in MTSU's sound reinforcement courses adjust cables and prepare audio setups on stage Wednesday, March 24, between sets at the Cece Coakley and Briston Maroney concert in MTSU's Student Union ballroom. Nearly 50 students from two different colleges — and three departments — collaborated to present MTSU's first in-person, large-scale

The music industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry with millions of people working in all areas of it to ensure its success. Maybe the thought of working at a label is exciting. Or maybe you long to spend six months out of the year on a bus with traveling musicians. Either way, MTSU’s Recording Industry program in the College of Media and Entertainment is one of the best in the country—and with good reason.

Why be a RIM student? Well, from my perspective, music is one of the things I love most in this world. I started singing when I was still wearing diapers and grew up into my teens performing live and touring. When it came time for college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew that music had to be a part of it somehow. I needed to make money, but I also needed to be involved with the thing I loved. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. Once I figured out that I could major in Music Business, all it took was a quick Google search to know that the MTSU RIM program was perfect for me.

So, you’ve decided to major in Music Business, Audio Engineering, or maybe even Commercial Songwriting. What can you expect? In short, expect to work your butt off. I know that can be intimidating, but in order to gain anything in life worth great value, you should expect to work hard and earn it. This industry is brutal, but you knew that already. The hard work prepares you for what will be expected of you when you nail that dream job.

MTSU student Hannah Humphress, a Knoxville, Tenn., senior majoring in audio production, adjusts a connector for the custom LED video wall behind the stage of the university's new Chris Young Cafe in preparation for a special livestreamed grand opening on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Looking on are, at left, Frank Baird, assistant professor of audio production and the cafe's new director, and Jon White, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Recording Industry's Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies Program. Chris Young, a former MTSU student turned multiplatinum country entertainer, donated $50,000 to help renovate the 1963-era cafeteria into a teaching and rehearsal space and performance venue for the College of Media and Entertainment. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU student Hannah Humphress, a Knoxville, Tenn., senior majoring in audio production, adjusts a connector for the custom LED video wall behind the stage of the university’s new Chris Young Cafe in preparation for a special livestreamed grand opening on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Looking on are, at left, Frank Baird, assistant professor of audio production and the cafe’s new director, and Jon White, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Recording Industry’s Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies Program. Chris Young, a former MTSU student turned multiplatinum country entertainer, donated $50,000 to help renovate the 1963-era cafeteria into a teaching and rehearsal space and performance venue for the College of Media and Entertainment. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Speaking of hard work, the first few semesters are always the hardest. Many students argue that the pre-candidacy courses are “weed-out” courses. “Weed-out” meaning they’re designed to get rid of the students that aren’t very serious about being in the RIM program. I guess you could look at it that way, but ultimately that’s not true because the professors in the RIM program don’t want to see you fail. The courses will, however, help you determine if this is really what you want to do.

I would also like to tell you what to expect from your professors. Now, every college is the same in the sense that there might be one or two professors that give you a hard time. However, with every single one of my RIM professors to date, I have yet to meet one I didn’t like. All of the professors I’ve had in the RIM department have been wonderful.

So, what makes them so great? The fact that they genuinely—above all else—want to see you succeed. This program is difficult, but I have yet to meet a professor that was not willing to help me reach my fullest potential, as long as I was willing to do my best. They are passionate about the music industry and passionate about your education. Not to mention most, if not all of them, have years of working in this industry under their belts. So, they are not only good at what they’re teaching, they know what they’re talking about. I would argue that no matter what RIM class you’re in, you are in good hands.

Bill Crabtree Recording Industry faculty profile. (Photo: J. Intintoli)

Bill Crabtree Recording Industry faculty (Photo: J. Intintoli)

Being a RIM student also opens new possibilities at every corner. We have multiple student organizations that are involved with RIM students. For example, AMP Entertainment is a student organization that strives to get students hands-on experience for working in the industry. Additionally, MTSU has a chapter of Nashville Songwriters Association International. NSAI works for the success of student songwriters by “creating a networking environment open to song shares and critiques, performance opportunities, and industry professional panels.” Just another one of the great student organizations that cater to RIM students. Not only will you receive a quality education, but you will also grow as an artist and/or future industry professional.

I think I’ve stressed throughout this article that being a RIM student is definitely not “easy.” There will be a lot of learning to do. You will make mistakes. You will spend many nights in the library pleading to the academic gods that you pass your finals with a C or above. However, the quality of education you get all while striving to do something you love is unlike anything else. The good significantly outweighs the “bad.” And I’m thankful every day I chose MTSU’s RIM program when I decided on my major and what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to write this for those who didn’t know what their major was going to be, or those who haven’t even picked a school yet and just so happen to stumble across this. Perhaps you’re already a student in the RIM program. In which case, I hope you resonate with this as well. If you love music and want to make a career out of it, or maybe you just want a fun twist on the traditional world of business, I don’t think you would be disappointed with our Recording Industry program. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere else.

And, YES. You still have to take accounting. For accounting is the impending doom no college student can escape.

Author Nicole Alexander is currently an undergraduate student in the Recording Industry Program in the College of Media and Entertainment. 


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