I've been a singer-songwriter since high-school, and music and performance have always been a huge part of my life. Personally, I saw greater opportunity and potential for earnings in pursuing a non-music degree. That said, I knew music would always be a part of my life, and that I would always pursue music 'on the side', so to speak. Of course, I'm always hoping that one day, I'll "make it big".
Now that I've graduated, am working full-time, and have been able to make more (amazing) friends who did pursue the music-program path, I can say this: most have no back-up plan. Since COVID, the majority of my music program friends have been unemployed or working in minimum wage jobs...which is especially scary, considering arts colleges (especially private ones) frequently leave their students in debt.
Here is what I would suggest instead:
There are plenty of music classes you can take without getting a music performance major. Heck, your money might even be better spent getting private lessons, or joining community choirs. This way, you can still network, learn the skills needed to be a successful performer, and finally, save your money to spend on another degree that won't pigeon-hole you into one (struggling) industry.
I know plenty of successful performers and creatives who majored in Communication, Sciences, Poly-sci, you name it. I think the key lesson here is it may not matter what degree you have IF you truly have the talent to sit at the table with musicians and performers in your community.
I know you may be thinking: 'there is no replacement for the quality of education you could receive in an arts program'. I would disagree. There are incredible musicians, teachers, and public programs all across the world. And the experienced professionals actually working in the industry you'd like to join have the experience to share with you what it will actually take to be a successful performer. Find a mentor, a trainer, a teacher, and musical friends in your community and then ask them "what do I need to do to be as successful as you?" Their experiences and suggestions will be far more vast than you would expect.
Lauren recommends the following next steps:
You don't actually need years. You can start now. Take some singing lessons. If you are good, then you just become one. If you've never studied music before, I would suggest going to a music college (4 years normally). Many singers, though, are self-taught and talented and just worked hard.