Sony/ATV and Bleeding Fingers Music have partnered to set up a full-ride scholarship for Black composition students at the University of Southern California (USC), it was announced today (Nov. 17). The scholarship falls under Sony Music Group’s $100 million social justice fund, which launched in June in the wake of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
The Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship, which aims to encourage inclusivity and expand opportunities for Black composers, will cover the entire cost of attending USC’s Screen Scoring Master’s program at the Thornton School of Music, including tuition, housing and meals; application fee reimbursement; equipment; applicable relocation costs; and software purchases. It will additionally include an apprenticeship opportunity at Bleeding Fingers Music, the film and TV custom scoring company founded by Hans Zimmer, Steve Kofsky and Russell Emanuel.
“We are proud to partner with Bleeding Fingers and USC Thornton to establish this scholarship as we work to break down barriers for Black composers,” said Sony/ATV chairman and CEO Jon Platt. “We look forward to bringing a wide range of new, creative voices to the film and scoring community, and throughout the music industry.”
“There are many barriers to becoming a composer, not least is the expense of studying at a top school,” added Zimmer. “We want to break down this wall and find some truly gifted individuals that will become role models of the future.”
All applicants to the scholarship program must have an undergraduate degree and will be assessed based on their academic standing and musical abilities. If an applicant’s undergraduate degree is not in music composition or screen scoring, equivalent professional experience will be considered. The application fee is $115 (reimbursed to the candidate who is awarded the scholarship) and the submission deadline for the 2021-22 academic year is Dec. 1, 2020.
Composer and producer Quincy Jones said in a statement, “I’ve wanted to score films since I was 15 years old, but it didn’t seem likely at that age. Now, as the first African American to have been nominated twice in the same year for the Best Song and Best Score Academy Award, I know that ‘first’ often means ‘only.’ To help change that narrative, I’m honored to support the new Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship for Black Composers at USC’s Thornton School of Music. We’ve got to inspire these rugrats to know that their talents are valuable, help provide access to the tools they need, and show them that there is PLENTY of room for Black composers…and it makes my soul smile to know that’s exactly what this scholarship serves to achieve!”
Added Sean Holt, vice dean of the division of contemporary music at USC, “USC Thornton’s Division of Contemporary Music and Screen Scoring program are so encouraged by the commitment and generosity of our colleagues at Sony/ATV and Bleeding Fingers. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity and the lasting impact this scholarship will have on our efforts to build a more inclusive screen music community.”
Those interested can learn more and apply here.