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Universal Music to Expand ‘Bonus Tracks’ Early Career Development Program to Atlanta, Detroit

The more than three-year-old program is coming to Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta and Motown Museum's Hitsville NEXT in Detroit in the spring.

Universal Music Group (UMG) will expand its early career development program, Bonus Tracks, to Atlanta’s Frederick Douglass High School and through Motown Museum’s Hitsville NEXT in Detroit in the coming spring semester, the company tells Billboard. Last spring, UMG completed its first year in New York at Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH). 

Bonus Tracks is dedicated to discovering and developing a diverse set of future executive talent by giving students in grades 11 and 12 the opportunity to learn about the music industry through immersive programming while being provided with transferrable skills. During the multi-week program, participants attend weekly meetings at a UMG label with executives from all areas of the company, including creative, marketing, commercial partnerships and promotion. 

UMG has also created the Bonus Tracks Scholarship Award, a college scholarship that will be given to one Bonus Tracks student in each city who are recognized for their community leadership, commitment to academic excellence and completion of the program, including the presentation of their capstone project.

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The Bonus Tracks program was launched in 2019 in partnership with Capitol Music Group (CMG) and the Compton Unified School District at Dominguez High School in Los Angeles. It later expanded to Nashville through Capitol Christian Music Group and Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School. It was founded by Brian Nolan, executive vp and executive vp of marketing at Motown; Patrick Stephens, manager of brand partnerships at CMG; and Micah Ali, president emeritus of the Compton School District.

“We’re excited to see Bonus Tracks continue to expand and look forward to bringing the program to students in Detroit and Atlanta,” said Nolan. “We knew Bonus Tracks could thrive and scale in the most meaningful ways in order to reach the next generation of music industry leaders. I am grateful to Micah Ali for his partnership in this incredible journey and to UMG for fully embracing and supporting the vision of the program: inspiration, education, and pathway.”

“Bonus Tracks has always been about giving students the opportunity to learn about career pathways in a way that meets their passion for music and curiosity about the industry,” added Ali. “As this program moves into its fifth year, I’m incredibly honored to continue to expand this program to reach students across the country.”

“Motown Museum’s Hitsville NEXT is devoted to supporting creativity in today’s young artists, entrepreneurs and changemakers,” said Robin Terry, chairwoman and CEO of the Motown Museum. “Partnering with Bonus Tracks is a perfect reflection of our mission. We can’t wait to work with the entire Detroit Public School system and grow this great program in our community.”

“With Atlanta being the music capital of the south, Frederick Douglass High School has produced some of the most famous music industry icons such as T.I., Lil Jon, and Killer Mike, to name a few, said Erika Y. Mitchell, a school board member of Atlanta Public Schools. “Bonus Tracks will create pathways for our students to learn about the music industry’s business, provide mentorships with music executives, and allow our students post-graduation to have access to internships at Universal Music Group or receive a scholarship toward college.”

Mitchell added that she’s “looking forward to expanding” the Bonus Tracks program to Atlanta’s Benjamin E. Mays High School “in the near future.”

“It is critically important for UMG to provide early career opportunities as an investment in the future of this industry, both from a business and fan perspective,” said Natoya Brown, senior vp of people inclusion and culture at UMG. “Bonus Tracks is a way to begin discovering and cultivating the next generation of music industry leaders.”