Annamarie Sanchez has always known that there is much more to making music than singing and playing.
But the guitarist and singer for Juicy Newt, a local all-female band, became aware of how wide the array of opportunities in the field are at a somewhat-unexpected place: her college campus.
After going through the Music Business Program at Mesa Community College, Sanchez said she has become just as comfortable with the fine print as the lyrics and liner notes.
“I want to make music,” the 29-year-old Sanchez said. “I like to write music. Once I got into the program, I realized it does not just have to be about my band. I can do things on my own, too. I love jingles. I think it would be neat to write jingles. I really just enjoy the music business. It’s an exciting business, especially locally.”
A music business curriculum is offered at other Maricopa Community Colleges. But Mesa has the largest degree program, said Alexandra Perdue, MCC Music Business coordinator.
Schools around the country’s music capitals — Los Angeles, Nashville, New York and Miami, Fla. — offer four-year business programs. MCC’s has developed into one of the better two-year programs.
“The difference is that we mix academic and technical programs,” said Perdue, who is in her third year as coordinator. “In a traditional music department, it’s solely an academic program. We bring kids who want to start their own bands or record labels, or want to work for a publishing company.”
Paul McCartney’s large fortune has been built, in big part, by his library of acquired music publishing rights. The former Beatle has said that publishing can be just as lucrative, if not more so, than recording and touring.
Productions. Promotions and Marketing. Licensing. Event coordination. All are among the music-field options open even to those who cannot play a lick, and Mesa graduates — despite fierce competition from students of four-year schools — manage to move on to such jobs and internships.
The key, Perdue said, are faculty members who are currently in the music loop.
“I don’t want a program with a lot of full-time educators that are not in the business anymore,” Perdue said. “If you’re not in the business, you’re not relevant. You don’t have the connections, you don’t know what the current technologies are and don’t understand the most current marketing strategies.
“Our vision is to always get in the most relevant and actively-connected people to teach our classes.”
One of Perdue’s instructors is Scottsdale-based music and entertainment attorney Matthew Wenzlau, who began at MCC as a religion instructor before adding MUC 109: Merchandising And The Law to his courseload.
In a recent class, Wenzlau detailed the financial benefits and risks for producers when they sign with an artist. Among the paperwork he showed the class was an contract he negotiated, with the names redacted.
“The key is to get the students practical skills so they can go out and perform, as opposed to go out, get a job that unrelated to anything and hope for something in music down the line,” Wenzlau said. “We want to give students the ability to function immediately.”
Among the other core course titles: Self-Promotion for the Music Industry, Music Business: Industry Leadership and E-Commerce, and Recording and Mass Media.
While Phoenix will never be a L.A. or Nashville, Wenzlau feels the Valley can develop into a player on the national music scene. And the MCC Music Business program hopes to facilitate that.
“We don’t have enough venues or support to be a major (music market),” Wenzlau said. “There’s no riverwalk or attraction like that. But here’s what I can see happening: While it might not be like Seattle was in the ’90s, Phoenix can be a hub where producers, record labels and artists can connect and find talent.
“Where they go after that, the sky’s the limit. In some respects, we’re already seeing that.”