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12 Elite Music Business Schools Shaping the Industry’s Future

Who will shape the future of the music industry? The students at the nation's top music business schools are just waiting to take their best shot.

Who will shape the future of the music industry? The students at the nation’s top music business schools are just waiting to take their best shot.

As the challenges facing artists and executives grow in complexity, an increasing number of educational institutions are preparing the next generation of industry leaders.

In many cases, the schools are doing so with the financial support of a previous generation of music power brokers. Among those who have helped endow music ­industry programs at major universities are A&M Records co-founder/­artist Herb Alpert, Sony/ATV Music Publishing chairman/CEO Martin Bandier, ­one-time MCA Records president Mike Curb, Sony Music Entertainment chief creative officer Clive Davis and, most recently, Apple executives Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young. At the program that Iovine and Young endowed at USC, undergraduates wear T-shirts with the motto “The degree is in disruption.”

The 12 schools featured here — all nonprofit, degree-granting ­programs, representing both public and ­private U.S. universities — are drawing ­students ready to face the demands of the 21st-century music industry.


The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business

Students at Curb College seeking industry internships don’t have to look far. The school is across the street from Music Row, the center of the Nashville music ­business. Yet students also can study in New York or Los Angeles, go on tour with professor-musician Mark Volman of The Turtles or devote a summer term to the Pipeline Program, a deep dive into industry issues. College dean/alumnus Doug Howard brings industry experience from executive roles at Disney Music Nashville and Disney-owned Lyric Street Records.

Alumna: Universal Music Group Nashville president Cindy Mabe



With a seven-decade history of teaching contemporary music in Boston — an international school opened in Valencia, Spain in 2012 offering a masters in global entertainment and music business — Berklee has enrolled some 520 students in its music business degree programs, under department ­chairman Don Gorder. Opportunities for ­undergraduates include the student-run Heavy Rotation Records and the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE), which launched an ambitious effort with industry partners to resolve rights and royalty issues.

Alumnus: Sonicbids founder/ BerkleeICE managing director Panos Panay?

Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music Courtesy Photo



Thirty miles east of Manhattan, Hofstra offers a bachelor of science with a ­concentration in the music business, under music department chairman Philip Stoecker, with some 30 students enrolled in the program. The school’s proximity to music ­internships in New York is a plus for undergraduates who take courses as targeted as The Fundamentals of Electronic Music and Music Merchandising Field Study. The course description for one overview session says that the class is designed to help students “envision roles in which you could see yourself thriving well into the future.” But it then cautions that those roles may not match up with “preconceived dream jobs” as industry trends shift.

Alumnus: Def Jam Recordings CEO Steve Bartels


Jacobs School of Music

At Indiana University’s campus in Bloomington, Ind., performers and composers at the Jacobs School of Music benefit from the Office of Entrepreneurship and Career Development (OECD), a program now in its third year, under director Alain Barker. In partnership with the university’s Kelley School of Business, the OECD offers an undergraduate certificate in music entrepreneurship, with courses in new venture management, organization development and more. The OECD also provides Jacobs students with opportunities for mentoring and career guidance, and is the home of Project Jumpstart, a business ­development competition.



The Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, founded in 1973, enrolls some 1,200 undergraduates who ­concentrate in audio production, commercial songwriting and the music business. Housed within the College of Media and Entertainment and chaired by Beverly Keel (a former senior vp at Universal Music Group), the department recently launched a music business MBA. It previously established an MFA program in recording arts and technologies. In 2015, alumna Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum made a $100,000 scholarship donation.

Alumnus: Former Sony Music Nashville chairman Gary Overton


Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts

To mark its 50th anniversary, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts named Pharrell Williams its artist-in-residence for the 2015-2016 school year, and in June, the ­hitmaker mentored students during a master class at the Clive Davis Institute, which is directed by arts professor Jeff Rabhan. A viral video of Williams’ amazed reaction to the work of student musician Maggie Rogers led her track “Alaska” to reach No. 3 on the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart. Past speakers at the institute include Jay Z, Spike Lee and Beastie Boys members Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz.

Alumna: Parkwood Entertainment project manager Sophie Ash





Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

Steinhardt’s music business program at NYU — with 160 undergraduates and 80 master’s students enrolled — combines the performance ­training of a conservatory with industry ­perspective through NYU’s Stern School of Business. Associate ­professor Larry Miller, host of the Musonomics ­podcast, is ­director of the ­program. NYU’s ­location in Manhattan has allowed ­students to intern with a wide range of record ­companies, ­publishers and managers, as well as with Google, Spotify, Apple and Pandora. More than 90 percent of the students complete at least one music-related course abroad, in cities including London, Shanghai, Paris and Prague.

Alumnus: Rightsflow founder Patrick Sullivan


?Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries

Taking a multidisciplinary approach, the Bandier Program, under interim director Ulf Oesterle and assistant director Lisa Steele, requires students to do coursework in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the Martin Jr. Whitman School of Management, the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences, all within Syracuse University. Only about 100 students are enrolled in the program, assuring undergraduates personalized attention. Opportunities are offered to study off-campus in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and London.

Alumnus: Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers


Herb Alpert School of Music

History, culture, property rights, ethics, technology — all are topics tackled in the Music Industry 101 seminar taught within a business-focused minor, which was established four years ago at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music. Robert Fink, professor of musicology, is chairman of the faculty advisory committee for the minor, which is pursued by 60 to 70 students. Among the professors is Jeff Jampol of Jampol Artist Management, which represents the estates of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and others. His students are instructed to create marketing plans for year-end pitches judged by industry professionals like Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg.


Frost School of Music

Among the resources offered to the 80 ­undergraduates majoring in music business at the Frost School of Music are student-run record label ‘Cane Records, publishing company Cat 5 Music and radio station WVUM, in a curriculum directed by professor Serona Elton. The course Recorded Music Operations focuses on all aspects of the record business: finding artists, selecting material, creating content, distribution, marketing, promotion — and paying royalties.

Alumnus: Sony Music Entertainment senior vp/CFO Miles Braffett




Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy

In its third year, the Iovine and Young Academy, under executive director Erica Muhl, has drawn 81 undergraduates to its unique program offering a bachelor of science degree in arts, technology and the business of innovation — three disciplines viewed as essential to the future direction of the music and entertainment business. Based in The Garage, a state-of-the-art student lab ­overlooking the Los Angeles skyline and equipped with high-end ­computers and 3D printers, the program emphasizes collaboration and entrepreneurial projects.


USC Thornton School of Music

Founded in 1884, the Thornton School is the oldest continually operating cultural institution in Los Angeles, but its music industry program, chaired by Ken Lopez, is cutting edge. Students, admitted to the conservatory as ­performers, can learn all aspects of the music business. Studying in the film capital of the world, they also tap the strength of the USC School of Cinematic Arts to explore music opportunities in the movie business.

Alumnus: Kobalt Music Publishing vp film/TV Chris Lakey

This feature was originally published in the Oct. 8 issue of Billboard.