For Josh Gruss, former student of Berklee College of Music and founder, chairman, and CEO of independent publisher Round Hill Music, his alma mater is “a big, wonderful playground” for music lovers. “It was a really important time in my life,” he says.
The music executive studied guitar and music business while at Berklee, and credits the school for teaching him the foundations of music history — something that has given him crucial context for his work today at Round Hill.
Twenty-plus years after starting at Berklee, Gruss is still pouring his resources into the institution. He now acts as a trustee and has lent his expertise to the school’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called “Copyright and Revenue Streams for Musicians.” But now, the publishing executive wants to take his support of Berklee even further.
Today, the institution announced the establishment of the Josh Gruss/Round Hill Music Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid for deserving students from underrepresented groups or economic hardship in the Music Business and Management program.
Beginning with a $1 million dollar gift, the new scholarship is designed to topple some of the earliest barriers of entry for a career in the music business: education and connection-building. “The network Berklee provides is really important, I think. For these students, you get a great education, and you also get the connection to so many alumni in the business,” he says.
With the scholarship, Gruss hopes to push the music business towards greater equity.
“For Round Hill, we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” Gruss explains. “We’re focusing on building diversity.” Along with the scholarship, the indie publishing company is also donating to the National Music of African American Music in Nashville. “We’re trying to invest in what’s important,” he says.
Unlike most scholarship funds, the money invested was not given in the form of cash, instead, Gruss and his company have made the donation in $1 million dollars worth of stock from its Round Hill Music Royalty Fund Ltd., which began trading on the London Stock Exchange in November. “What’s neat is that our music, like the underlying property of music we hold, is supporting music education. The royalties that are being paid from music publishing will help support someone at the school,” Gruss says.
Round Hill Music, which oversees administration of the RHM Royalty Fund, ranked No. 6 in Billboard’s Top Publisher ranking for 2021’s second quarter with a 1.85% market share of the Top 100 Radio Airplay songs.
The new donation is a way for the executive to give back “after all Berklee has done for [him],” he explains, but he plans to leave the decision-making up to Berklee’s music business staff.
Recipients for the scholarship will be selected during the upcoming academic year, the school said.