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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

It's Not all Rock 'n' Roll

Illustration by Tom Palmer

It’s Not All Rock ’n’ Roll

A music career means learning the ins and outs of the business

Grant Carfer is already recording his own album. That’s the easy part for the 21-year-old. What comes next is why he’s sitting in Morgan King’s Introduction to the Music Industry class.

“I have a lot of questions because I’m recording my album and plan to do everything for it and to promote it,” said the music marketing major. “I also want to be a record label owner and help other up-and-coming artists with their careers.”

King’s class covers everything about careers in music, from composing and producing to becoming a jingle writer or music therapist. It is especially geared toward those who have dreams of performing professionally or who plan to work in related fields.

The course analyzes publishing, record companies, copyrights and royalty payments, said King, a senior lecturer in the music department who has taught the introductory course for the past four years.

“Most of us don’t know about these things,” he said. “We also talk about the history of the business going back to the invention of the phonograph and how it changed the whole music business, to the idea of copyrights, and the development of technology to today’s digital downloads.”

King can speak from personal experience about the ups and downs of a music career and what it takes to make it in the industry. His first professional gig straight out of college was playing saxophone with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and touring the country by bus with the group for nine months during the late ’70s. Later, King moved back to San Antonio and was a pit musician for touring Broadway shows and for Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace and Vikki Carr during private performances at the Convention Center. After years as a freelance musician, King began teaching at UTSA. That was 20 years ago.

In addition to Introduction to the Music Industry, King also teaches History of Rock, History of Jazz, and Jazz Skills. Recently, he was part of the band for a performance by the Four Tops and the Temptations at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio.

“Most musicians are not trained the way these students are. [The students] are set up to succeed from a business aspect,” he said. “What’s happening now is those traditional paradigms are going away, so it’s increasingly important that musicians today learn to take care of themselves.”

“Most musicians are not trained the way these students are. . . traditional paradigms are going away, so it's increasingly important that musicians today learn to take care of themselves.”

Morgan King

That’s why Alex Flores is taking the class. The music marketing major sees a future for herself in the cutthroat industry.

“I sing and write music. I’ve already learned so much in the first few days of this class, such as the legal aspects, what to do and not to do, and career options,” she said.

While the class is a requirement for Flores’ major, students like Dillan Williams are interested in learning the business of music just in case they need a Plan B for their career tracks.

Williams, a political science major, said he’s always been interested in politics and government, but he can’t quite discard the idea of pursuing a music career.

“I make a lot of music, so I want to learn the ins and outs of the industry and how to market myself and get my name out there,” he said.

Psychology major Marcus Medina is also considering whether to pursue a career in his degree field or one in music. He already works in the industry as a deejay and musician.

“I’ve always been interested in music,” he said. “I want to learn more about the industry and about copyright laws in case I want to pursue music later on in life.”

–Rudy Arispe

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