Gearified: Obtaining your MI Degree is no BS

**Matt Olivo is the founding guitarist of extreme metal trailblazers Repulsion, whose Horrified LP ranks as Decibel‘s #1 grindcore album of all time. Because we know that every reader ever plays guitar, we brought his print column to the Deciblog. In issue #109 Matt investigated “the biggest quandary of working in the music business [which] has always been establishing a career path.”

How do you get to your destination? How do you even begin? The pragmatic approach to any career aspiration has generally been to pursue higher education. We asked around, and to our surprise, it’s common knowledge that the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA has cracked the code to that pesky enigma known as the music biz.

The Science of Shred
The crown jewel of this joint since it opened in 1977 has always been its Bachelor of Music in Performance degree. This, simply put, is where you learn to shred on a world-class level. MI offers an environment where instrumental and vocal students can learn several styles of contemporary music from the finest instructors in the world. But wait a second! Many a mythic metal warrior has never stepped inside of a classroom to learn what Satan hath righteously bestowed!

Concerning this dilemma, Gearified asked successful sideman Rob “Blasko” Nicholson (Ozzy, Rob Zombie) to kick some knowledge. “Some great musicians have come from music trade schools,” he notes. “I see no problem attending a school like MI to further your craft.”

We also reached out to OG Sunset Strip six-stringer George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), who sagely replies, “We’re all built differently, so there’s no right or wrong way to learn anything. A schooled player will have more options.”

Metal lifer Phil Demmel (Machine Head) even chimes in: “The resources and learning environment of [MI] lends itself to an advantage for its students.”

Shit, that’s three for three. To round out the perspective, we approached new jack shredder Jake Dreyer (White Wizzard), who enthuses, “I definitely would recommend MI for anyone that wants to eat, sleep and breathe their instrument.” It seems that old and new schools give MI the horns of approval.

Down to Business
OK, so far, so good… so what? What if your talent couldn’t fill a flea scrotum, but you eat, drink, sleep and shit music? MI still wants your business—they offer a variety of Bachelor’s, AA and Certificate programs in Performance and Business, Guitar Craft, Audio Engineering, Film Production, et al. To get the skinny on MI’s popular Music Business Program certificate, we reached out to a few former students and graduates.

“I would recommend anyone interested in music school to go to MI,” says recent graduate Tony Rauser. “Specifically the Music Business Program, since it was so crucial in my journey to getting an actual job and learning the ins and outs of the business.” Rauser recently bagged an internship, which he parlayed into a full-time gig as the Artist Relations/Marketing Assistant for ESP.

“The classes in the MBP prepared me for language that I would need to be familiar with while working at a record label, and allowed me to not be completely clueless while reading contracts,” recalls former student Zel Romero, product manager and publicist at Century Media.

Graduate Mario Rubio (Thrown Into Exile) tells us, “I highly recommend the school to anyone who is pursuing a career in the music industry. Whether it’s being in a successful band, a big-name manager or a producer, Musicians Institute has all the tools for you to take your career off the ground and be in the working world.” Go-getter Rubio has worked for ESP, Coffin Case, Musicians Institute and Peavy.

These bright young minions of metal are real-life success stories who are working to further their careers in the business each and every day. They claim MI provided them with the right curriculum, instructors and environment to learn.

Reality Check
MI has the goods in spades. What’s the catch? Well, it ain’t cheap. Plan to burn 80-90k, plus room and board (they don’t provide dorms) for a Bachelor’s-level education. The Music Business certificate is around 14k. Scholarships, financial aid and grants are available, though, just like at any other college or university.

Gearified concludes that although there are many ways to enter this crazy business, the shortest path between two points is a straight line, and MI is as straight as they come.

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