Commercial Music, B.A.

Program Overview

Do you like to stay up-to-date with the changing trends in music? Are you the one who walks out of a movie talking about how the soundtrack complimented the plot? Or maybe you love the rush of performing in front of people? Wherever your dreams and passions lie in the rapidly growing music industry, majoring in commercial music could be the perfect degree for you!

PLNU commercial music students understand that the world of music is huge and complex – which means that developing a well-rounded skill set is an important first step towards career success.

Within our NASM-accredited program, you’ll have the opportunity to work and train alongside professors who have a history of sustained success and experience in the music industry. You’ll dive into a strong curriculum that places emphasis on practical and essential skills like production techniques, becoming comfortable in a recording studio, digital audio recording, songwriting, Pro Tools software literacy, orchestral arranging, improvisation, building a professional portfolio, and so much more!

You’ll also be able to step into our brand new recording studio equipped with cutting-edge technology and recording instruments. Take advantage of this space to practice your skills as a producer and arranger, or create professional-quality demos that can help open the door to record labels and showcase your unique style.


Ines Irawati Headshot

Ines Irawati

“Music is powerful, and you have to have respect for it,” said Ines Irawati, vocal coach and pianist. “I’ve seen what it can do for the people who play it and listen to it. Everyone connects with it on a different level and some can be moved very deeply by it. It creates a feeling that can’t really be articulated.” Read more


The Commercial Music, B.A. consists of two concentrations – each with the goal of further preparing you personally and professionally for careers in the music industry.

  • Composition: For students interested in the production side of commercial music.
  • Performance: For students interested in entering the music industry as an artist.

Course List

MUA 100-400 - Applied Commercial Study in Performing Area


These learning objectives are from Private Commercial Guitar and are representative of all of the Private Lessons in Commercial Instruments:

  • A growing familiarity with popular jazz concepts and techniques as demonstrated by your ability to incorporate them into your playing.
  • A growing improvisational ability as demonstrated by your ability to improvise in a wide variety of styles incorporating increasingly more complex harmonies and scales.
  • A growing familiarity with jazz repertory, jazz standards and jazz guitarists as demonstrated by your ability to work through a fake book.
  • A growing ability to read single line melodies on the guitar as demonstrated by your ability to sight read more complex material.

MUC 200-400 - Private Commercial Composition


To synthesize the musical grammar and technical components with your own original thought as evidenced in your compositions.

  • MUC252 first-semester students should demonstrate preliminary skills, such as songs accompanied by piano or guitar.
  • MUC252 second-semester students should demonstrate improving, early milestone skills, MUC352 students should demonstrate proficient skills.  MUC452 students should demonstrate advanced skills in at least 3 areas as evidenced by the rubric completed by each faculty member at the jury.

MUTEC 324 - Song Writing


  • Employ both conventional and unconventional song structures and creative lyric writing.
  • Establish the difference between simple expression and communication through song, and how to establish a musical dialogue with the listener.
  • Employ various writing devices to help make a song more effective - POV, object writing, tension and release, prosody. 
  • Use technology to organize your thoughts and help complete a song.
  • Demonstrate how and when to employ “loops”.
  • Demonstrate that you understand symbiotic relationship between live performance, studio production, and modern songwriting by engaging all three.
  • Write, critique, and rewrite no less than 2 master songs and 4 assignment songs.

MUCOM 325 - Contemporary Improvisation, 2 semesters


  • Learn to approach improvisation in a systematic manner that applies to all styles and instruments.
  • Improve your character and tone and become more confident in your soloing ability by adding cohesiveness and variety to your performing.
  • Transcribe other instruments and learn the techniques and nuances on your own instrument.
  • Become a more natural and spontaneous stage musician.
  • Apply harmony to your improvisation by working through arpeggios and scales.
  • Introduce basic chromaticism to your playing and more advanced usages of arpeggios and unusual scales.

MUTEC 327 - Digital Audio I


  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of all of the basic operations of Avid’s Pro Tools digital audio workstation by recording, processing, editing and mixing both audio and midi in a musical demo.
  • Demonstrate that you can work in a collaborative environment with other musicians to complete a project in a timely, professional manner.
  • Demonstrate your competency with Pro Tools by passing the Avid’s Pro Tools Certified User exam by the end of the semester.

MUTEC 328 - Digital Audio II


  • Configuring settings to optimize a Pro Tools system including custom I/O, workflow, windows, allocations, and indexing.
  • Sharing tracks for collaboration using a variety of techniques.
  • Using advanced selection, nudging, and shifting techniques, indexing and shortcuts.
  • Using advanced auditioning techniques, including pre-and post-roll auditions.
  • Using clip alignment techniques, such as snap-to-heads, snap-to-tails, and snap-to-sync point.
  • Using advanced automation functions, AFL and PFL and submixing techniques.
  • Successfully pass the Avid Certified Operator-Music exam.

MUTEC 333 - Studio Recording


  • Record several master-quality recordings with the help of a master engineer.
  • Record at least a rough 2-track demo of two of your own songs.
  • Listen critically to the production values of commercially recorded songs and apply those same techniques to your own recordings.
  • Plan the purchase of a budget-conscious, home recording studio that allows you to express your music through recorded media after completing the program.
  • Acting as the lead engineer, successfully move a student musical project from initial demo through final master. 

MUH 335- Commercial Music History


  • To articulate the landmark events and general overview of the Music Industry’s history within the larger world of commerce and the arts.
  • To engage the world of Commercial Music through the lenses of its historical, cultural and sociological roots, as scholars and researchers.
  • To develop an awareness of “culture noise” and it’s numbing effect on the mind and soul of a creative person.
  • To prepare philosophically and theologically to succeed as a musician by articulating a pathway as a Christian in the music industry.

MUTEC 335 - Arranging I


  • Possess the skills necessary to create contemporary arrangements for a variety of commercial instrumental and vocal ensembles with diverse instrumentation and styles.
  • Learn to arrange for brass, woodwinds, rhythm section, voices, and keyboards.
  • Apply your skills as an arranger in the studio, in live performance, and in music education both through practical application and pedagogical use.
  • Understand the skills, styles, language and process used by arrangers.
  • Gain understanding of studio applications.
  • Analyze and interpret musical audio recordings and scores from an arranger’s perspective.
  • Apply, assess, and synthesize all information discussed in this course through arranging projects.

MUCOM 339 - Commercial Music Ensemble


  • Demonstrate graceful interaction, attention to detail and a professional attitude as you work in a mixed team of technicians, managers, and artists to create a 60-minute show. 
  • Demonstrate your ability to select, arrange, rehearse and polish musical selections to a professional, performance level. 
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the need to connect with your audience and communicate musically.

MGT 381 - Creativity and Innovation

(3) existing course in Fermanian School of Business

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the creative and dynamic nature of entrepreneurship.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the historical figures, definitions, and personalities of entrepreneurship.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in the key definitions, terminology, tools, methods and skills used in entrepreneurship innovation.
  • Demonstrate the ability to anticipate, understand and respond to the ever-changing competitive nature of entrepreneurship.
  • Demonstrate ethical reasoning, decision making and personal conduct in keeping with the highest ideals of business and faith.
  • Demonstrate professional-level reading, writing, speaking and critical thinking skills in the creation of a business and marketing plan.

MUTEC 435 - Arranging II


  • Apply the tools gained in MUCOM335 to score for TV, film and other commercial, media applications.
  • Lock a musical score to SMPTE, timecode and other means of synchronizing media, and pull together both live and digital assets for a score.
  • Work with a team to generate music for visuals, including working with a producer and director to find sounds to fulfill an artistic end.
  • Work gracefully with a variety of artists, directors, producers and technicians to deliver a product on time and on budget.

MUCOM 476 - Senior Project


  • Demonstrate through a live concert, various musical styles that present your musical interests and a public persona that plays to your strengths and personality.
  • Create a 30-minute “musical set” that demonstrates your ability to create a label audition.
  • Demonstrate your ability to effectively rehearse a band and produce a show with the help of a full ensemble, manager, and sound and lighting technicians.
  • To demonstrate your ability to musically and personally connect with an audience.

MUTEC 495 - Production Techniques


  • Produce a demo showcasing at least 5 original works that could serve as a demo for label review.
  • Communicate effectively with studio musicians through the production process with all necessary tools: MIDI mockups of original production concepts, charts, rehearsals with talent and oversee production to completion.
  • Articulate and demonstrate both Christian and musical humility as part of the recording process.
  • Deliver the product on time and on budget.

Department Faculty

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Student Support

For most students, the transition into college life is one full of adjustments. There is the excitement of newfound freedoms, but also some uncertainty as you begin to make choices and take responsibility for your own future. 

At PLNU, we’re committed to supporting you — academically, professionally, spiritually, personally — so that you may be successful both in your time as a student and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Student Support

Career Opportunities

With a degree from PLNU’s Department of Music, you will be well prepared to pursue both graduate studies and an array of career options that will allow you to live out your passion for music while making a lasting impact in the lives of those who hear it.

A Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Music can help lead to careers such as:

  • Record Producer
  • Arranger
  • Performance Artist
  • Audio Engineer
  • Commercial Music Composer
  • Film Composer
  • Mastering Engineer
  • Mixing Engineer
  • Touring Musician
  • Orchestrator
  • Studio Musician
  • Solo Musician
  • Sound Engineer
  • Singer/Songwriter
  • Video Game Composer
  • Artist Manager