Billboard’s 2023 Top Music Business Schools

The students who began their undergraduate education this fall at any of Billboard’s top music business schools are the first since the class of 2019 who can actually expect to spend four years on campus and in classrooms.


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As the COVID-19 pandemic spread in March 2020 and learning moved online, every student studying the music business, or any other field, took on a double major — in resilience.

“The resilience and positivity that our graduating students have shown over the last three years has been an inspiration,” said Sean McNamara, president/CEO of the Liverpool (England) Institute for the Performing Arts — the school that Paul McCartney co-founded in 1996 — as he presided over LIPA’s graduation in 2022, the school’s first inperson commencement since 2019. “I believe these qualities will see them successfully embark upon the next stage of their careers.”

Those attending any of Billboard’s top music business schools will be solidly positioned to pursue careers in an increasingly complex music industry. The schools listed are selected through executive recommendations, alumni information provided by honorees from our multiple power lists, information requested from each school and a decade of reporting on these programs.

We continue to prioritize more affordable public colleges and universities while also aiming for broad geographic diversity. Beyond the music capitals of New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and Miami, students can find worthwhile curricula in Philadelphia, Memphis and New Orleans, as well as Syracuse, N.Y.; Kennesaw, Ga.; Stillwater, Okla.; and Cleveland, Miss. This list includes the Valencia, Spain, campus of Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music, the United Kingdom’s famed BRIT School outside London, LIPA and the BIMM Institute, the largest provider of contemporary music education in Europe.

Two noteworthy historically Black universities and colleges, public Tennessee State University in Nashville and private Howard University in Washington, D.C., also merit inclusion this year.

Billboard presents this list of schools alphabetically and declines to rank institutions in what would often be an apples-to-oranges comparison. (The past year has seen widespread criticism of college ranking practices.) For students seeking quantitative measurements — from admission percentages to tuition and fees to graduation rates — those data points are available through impartial sources such as College Navigator, a resource of the Institute of Education Sciences, a division of the U.S. Department of Education.

By any measure, however, the colleges and universities here offer impressive opportunities for students seeking an edge in music-industry careers — running campus record labels, devising business plans, volunteering at top festivals, traveling to major music industry events and meeting with leading artists and executives.

The faculty and administrators at any of these schools would echo the remarks of McNamara as their students complete their studies and move to reshape the music business: “We are immensely proud of them and extremely excited to watch them progress toward the next chapter in their lives.”

Abbey Road Institute

Established as a music production school in 2015 by Abbey Road Studios and the owner of the famed location, Universal Music, the flagship program is now located inside London’s Angel Studios, the site of recording sessions for acts including Adele, The Cure and Sam Smith. The institute also has sister programs across Europe and in the United States, Australia and South Africa. It offers a one-year intensive program, designed in collaboration with the music industry, that dives deep into music production, sound engineering and the music business.

Course: The core program offered by all of the institute’s campuses worldwide is the advanced diploma in music production and sound engineering.

American University
Washington, D.C.

Created in 2013 under the guidance of SoundExchange co-founder John Simson, the business and entertainment program at American University is housed in the Kogod School of Business and is already making a name for itself in the industry. The university is the alma mater of, among others, Rich Kepler, day-to-day manager of The Killers, and CAA agent Zack Borson. Given the school’s location, it’s an easy stop for industry professionals visiting the nation’s capital as well as local executives. Recent guests include Michael Huppe, president/CEO of SoundExchange, and Audrey Fix Schaeffer, head of communications for concert promotion and production company I.M.P.

Course: Representing Talent: Agents, Managers & Lawyers, taught alternately by Simson and former Sony vp of marketing Stacy Merida, informs students about all participants on an artist’s team. The class also assists in managing regional recording artists.

Baldwin Wallace University
Berea, Ohio

This past year, Baldwin Wallace welcomed the largest-ever class of incoming students to its music industry program housed on its campus just 15 minutes from downtown Cleveland. The university, which in 2021 was invited to become an educational affiliate of the Grammy Museum, offers individualized instruction combined with hands-on experiences supported by Cleveland’s musical ecosystem, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Internship partners range from Live Nation properties to small indie venues. In spring 2023, students had the opportunity to enroll in tour management, a special topics course taught by Lamba Productions president Hadden Hippsley, who has helped produce festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Governors Ball, while some students served as volunteers at Bonnaroo in June.

Event: Stephanie Yeager — tour accountant for Foo Fighters, Phish, Bon Iver, Neil Young and Blake Shelton — recently visited the tour management class to provide insight into the financial components of a successful tour.

Belmont University — Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business

Located less than a half-mile from Nashville’s Music Row, Belmont’s Curb College offers unique access to networking opportunities with industry professionals as well as affiliated programs in areas including audio engineering and songwriting. Courses such as Inside a Booking Agency (taught in association with CAA) and The Artist’s Team (which features industry guests representing each of the main roles on a recording artist’s team) are complemented by hands-on opportunities such as summer term Bonnaroo U. A partnership with the Songwriters Hall of Fame yielded a new SHOF scholarship, and Belmont songwriting majors Lauryn Marie Hedges and Zander Jett were named the inaugural recipients in May. Hit-maker Desmond Child presented a master class on songwriting and navigating the industry, the first of many in a series.

Event: In April, Belmont hosted Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw for an intimate Q&A about touring, marketing and getting his start in the business.

Berklee College of Music

Berklee offers two degrees for students pursuing careers in the industry: a bachelor of music in music business/management and a bachelor of arts in music industry leadership and innovation, which debuted in 2022. The school continues to attract top-level industry guests. Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, spoke in March on a keynote panel as part of its annual Career Jam that also featured former Beats by Dre president Luke Wood and Main Street Advisors founder and CEO Paul Wachter. Berklee also has an expansive alums network, which includes Live Nation senior vp of touring Jared Braverman and Netflix music data and insights manager Anahita Bahri.

Course: BPMI Live is a one-year program focused on the festival business. Students hone their skills in talent scouting, artist development, and concert promotion and production; the capstone includes opportunities to participate at Lollapalooza and Governors Ball, where they work as production and tour managers for artists.

Berklee College of Music
Valencia, Spain

The sister campus to Boston’s Berklee College of Music offers a one-year master’s degree in global entertainment and music business attended by students from more than 20 countries who can concentrate in live entertainment, entrepreneurship and the record industry. The program optimizes its location, bringing all students to the Future of Music Forum in Barcelona and to the Great Escape in Brighton, England, a conference and festival showcasing 500 emerging artists from around the globe. In addition, it annually welcomes high-level industry professionals. This year’s honorary doctorate recipient, Yvette Noel-Schure, known for her work with Beyoncé, Prince, John Legend and Chloe x Halle, was recognized at the 2023 commencement ceremony in July, and recent guests include Ithaca Holdings/SB Projects founder Scooter Braun and manager Sophia Chang, who has worked with acts ranging from Paul Simon to Wu-Tang Clan.

Course: Emerging Technologies and New Creative Frontiers prepares students to both understand and capitalize on technological change, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality.

Berklee College of Music in Spain presented an honorary degree to veteran music publicist Yvette Noel-Schure, known for her work with Beyoncé and others.

Tato Baeza

BIMM University — BIMM Music Institute

Given full university status by Britain’s Department for Education in July 2022, the newly named BIMM University now includes the BIMM Music Institute as well as schools for the performing arts, film and TV. The BIMM Music Institute, with seven locations in London and other cities across the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany, draws on a 40-year history of educating its students with high-end facilities, industry experience, knowledgeable lecturers and music business connections. Courses include music business; music marketing, media and communications; and event management to train those aiming for industry careers.

Alums: Ella Mai, Fontaines D.C. and James Bay are among the graduates of the school.

The BRIT School
Croydon, England

The BRIT School, a tuition-free institution that educates students ages 14 to 19 for careers in performance and creative arts and related industries, was co-founded in 1991 by the British government and the British Record Industry Trust (the charitable division of U.K. labels trade group BPI, which presents the BRIT Awards). The school has specialists teaching courses in live sound, production, recording, music tech and the music business — while also offering a comprehensive nonvocational curriculum. Not surprising given its history, the school has exceptional connections within the British music industry for career opportunities post-graduation. Students have participated in sessions with industry figures from Disney composer Alan Menken to YouTube global head of music Lyor Cohen.

Alums: Artists including Adele, Jessie J, Loyle Carner, RAYE, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis and Katie Melua have attended The BRIT School.

Artists including Adele (pictured), Jessie J, Loyle Carner, RAYE, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis and Katie Melua have attended The BRIT School in England.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

California Institute of the Arts — The Herb Alpert School of Music
Santa Clarita, Calif.

CalArts students at the Herb Alpert School of Music immerse themselves in the business of music, but the school also ensures that every student — even those who plan to pursue nonperforming roles — lean into some type of music creation. Among its alums: Composer Raven Chacon and composer/sound artist Ellen Reid are both Pulitzer Prize winners; Greg Kurstin, a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, has won nine Grammys and worked with artists including Adele, P!nk, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar. On the business side, courses such as AI Sonic Explorations, The Art of the Mix and The Art of Recording keep students ahead of the curve regarding evolving technology and work-flow models.

Faculty: Laurel Halo, a composer, producer, live musician and DJ, joined the faculty in fall 2022.

California State University, Northridge
Los Angeles

While copyright law, publishing and licensing concepts, and the intricacies of recording and publishing contracts are key areas of focus in the classroom at CSUN, the school’s music industry studies program also delves into entrepreneurship and experiential learning. Aside from regularly hosting industry panels, the program — which counts singer-songwriter Andy Grammer as an alumnus — is home to Vove, a student-run record label where participants select, record, promote and manage an “artist of the year.” Thanks to its L.A. location, the school also boasts a robust internship program where all students must earn four credits working in a sector of the music business, from publishing to labels to live events. In addition to its undergraduate program, CSUN offers a master’s in music industry administration, with class schedules designed for fully employed students and midcareer professionals.

Event: The university recently presented a panel and networking discussion of songwriting with Jud Friedman, an Academy Award- and Grammy-nominated songwriter (Whitney Houston’s “Run to You” from The Bodyguard); Bonnie McKee, who co-wrote hits for Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson; and Joe Poindexter, vp of digital at Pulse Music.

Delta State University — Entertainment Industry Studies
Cleveland, Miss.

Located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Delta State’s entertainment industry studies program offers small class sizes and hands-on opportunities including its entertainment industry entrepreneurship and record-label practicum: Fighting Okra Records, where attendees work at the student-run imprint. The school annually draws industry speakers, including recent guests Boo Mitchell, Grammy-winning producer and owner of Royal Studios in Memphis, and Jim Sonefeld, drummer, author and songwriter (Hootie & The Blowfish).

Alums: Erin Moorman, marketing coordinator at Syntax Creative, and Libby Switzer, executive assistant at Creative Strategic Management, both in Nashville.

Drexel University — Westphal College of Media Arts and Design

Students at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design begin taking music business-specific classes when they start the program freshman year. That allows them to engage in the school’s unique course offerings, including Women in Music Industry and Fan Engagement: One Direction, which uses the former boy band as a focal point to examine the past, present and future of fan engagement. As part of the curriculum, students spend six months working in the industry; this year’s class interned at companies such as Netflix, Goldenvoice, Universal Music Group, Republic Records, WME, Live Nation and AEG.

Alums: Universal Music Group senior director of artist and label services Deb Keller and The Orchard vp of international label management Marissa Putney.

Full Sail University
Winter Park, Fla.

Full Sail offers several nonperforming degree programs in areas including music business, audio production, recording arts and the live industry-centric program show production. The school also regularly hosts events where students can learn from first-hand experience of those in the industry. Its recent speaker roster includes Mike McGrath, tour manager for Jason Aldean, and Randall Foster, vp of business development at Symphonic Distribution, and it hosts executives — and potential employers — from companies including Microsoft Game Studios, Fever, Samsung, Disney and Carnival Cruise Line.

Alumnus: Music business program graduate Michael Cariglio is a vp of marketing at Republic Records.

Hofstra University
Hempstead, N.Y.

The number of students enrolled inthe music business program at Hofstra has nearly tripled since the curriculum launched in 2017. The school has created a new bachelor of science in music business and also offers a music business major (for nonperformers) that leads to a bachelor of arts. Hofstra welcomes over 50 guest speakers on campus every year and offers internship opportunities year-round in New York (30 miles west of campus). A state-of-the art MIDI computer lab was completed in January, and a recording studio including a control room, live room, isolation booth and recording console is due to open at the end of the year.

Faculty: Kenyatta Beasley, a professor of music business who began teaching earlier this year, is a trumpeter, composer and music producer who has worked with Tru-Sound New York, Interscope/G-Unit Records, Helen Han Creative and Art vs. Transit Production.

Howard University
Washington, D.C.

The Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University, funded by a $4.9 million gift in 2021, offers a one-year fellowship program that provides fellows with coaching, specialized curriculum, mentorship and experience working with partner organizations. The Howard University School of Business takes the approach that the key to addressing the underrepresentation of Black executives and professionals in music and entertainment is intense coaching and immersion programs, and the Warner Music/Blavatnik Center frequently hosts industry executives for fireside chats, master classes and other programming. Recently, Combs Global president Tarik Brooks presented a “master mogul” panel discussion, and DJ Drama, a co-owner of Generation Now (home to Lil Uzi Vert, Killuminati and Jack Harlow), had a session with students.

Course: Among the university’s noteworthy offerings is the class The History of the American Music Industry: What Isn’t Black Music?

Indiana University — Jacobs School of Music
Bloomington, Ind.

At IU’s Jacobs School, emerging professionals have the opportunity to establish a career path that pairs their interest in the music industry with a large set of career options. Among multiple paths of study, undergraduate students can earn a music-oriented entrepreneurship certificate that includes foundational courses at the university’s Kelley School of Business. The music school also hosts a strong roster of guest speakers. Austin Wintory, an award-winning composer for film and video games, recently visited the campus to talk with students in an event hosted by the Music in Games student organization and the office of entrepreneurship and career development.

Event: Indiana native John Mellencamp spoke about his life and career in March at the university’s Franklin Hall during a symposium discussing the social and cultural impact of his music. University president Pamela Whitten subsequently announced that Mellencamp would be donating archived collections of his work to IU.

John Mellencamp (left) answered questions from music writer Anthony DeCurtis during a symposium about his life and career at Indiana University in March.

Michael Claycamp/Indiana Daily Student

Kennesaw State University — Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program
Kennesaw, Ga.

Integrated within the university’s Coles College of Business, the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program teaches the business side of the industry while providing practical experiences, on-the-job training and exploration of career opportunities. The program offers an annual study abroad trip to London, including an all-day visit with international executives at Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group. It recently formed a partnership with the book and online platform Music Business Toolbox and its creator, Bryan Calhoun, that provides tools, templates, forms and guidance to help students manage their music careers. The program recently established a partnership with the Dolby Institute, an educational division of the audiovisual technology company.

Artist in residence: David Ryan Harris, John Mayer’s guitarist and a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, is Kennesaw’s latest artist in residence as of fall 2023.

Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts
Liverpool, England

Within LIPA’s curriculum on management for the creative industries and performing arts, students take the music industry management pathway train alongside performers, technicians, designers and filmmakers in the school’s facilities. In their final year, students participate in a three-month internship that reflects their career goals with companies such as Warner Music, Live Nation and Sentric Music Publishing. LIPA was co-founded in 1996 by Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty, who retired as LIPA principal/CEO in 2021, succeeded by Sean McNamara.

Speaker: Robert Plant participated in a Q&A with students in November 2022.

Los Angeles College of Music
Pasadena, Calif.

LACM’s music business program — which offers a 12-quarter bachelor of music degree and a six-quarter associate of arts degree — is committed to offering students hands-on experience and networking opportunities. On average, a student will meet and interact with more than 100 guest speakers and master class guests per year from all facets of the music industry, and the program also features field trips to companies such as Spotify, Hipgnosis, Universal and Disney. Recent industry guest speakers include Billboard’s Keith Caulfield, managing director of charts and data operations, and publishing reporter Kristin Robinson.

Faculty: Music business department head Erin Workman’s experience in artist development includes working with Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus and Ashley Tisdale.

Los Angeles Film School — The Los Angeles Recording School
Los Angeles

Located in the heart of Hollywood, the Los Angeles Recording School (a division of the Los Angeles Film School) is equipped with professional recording studios that let students train in a real-world work environment. The school offers an array of degrees across its music and entertainment business programs, which let students gain analytical and practical skills both in the classroom and in the field. New for 2023 is an 18-month online competition program that allows those with an associate degree to earn their bachelor of science in entertainment business. The school also boasts an active speaker roster. Recently, SunPop managing partner Will Tenney spoke with students from the entertainment business program during an on-campus event.

Alumnus: As president of Record Plant Studios, Jeff Barnes oversees business operations and booking and has worked with Justin Bieber, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, among other artists.

Loyola University — School of Music and Theatre Professions
New Orleans

New Orleans is among the world’s most vibrant music cities, and Loyola University’s music industry studies program, within the School of Music and Theatre Professions, helps students build careers around their passions. Students learn from professors who are active in the industry and can create their own professional projects alongside creative peers. Loyola’s two Hilton-endowed professorships fund student travel and participation in various music industry conferences such as NAMM, Americana and Mondo — with future plans for South by Southwest and Music Biz. The program this year launched songwriter and music business camps where students worked directly alongside Grammy-winning rapper-producer D’Mile and Pulse Music Group’s Ricki Rich. The school also partners with the city so students can help produce the annual Freret Street Festival, which has drawn over 20,000 attendees a day.

Course: Record Label Operations brings a working music-label entity to campus. With a professorship-funded budget of $5,000, students in the course form a team to function as a label, recruiting and developing a young artist for commercial release.

Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Located less than an hour from the site of the Bonnaroo festival, where students regularly gain hands-on experience, MTSU offers an expanded focus beyond music recording into areas including live-event production, broadcast and streaming, and immersive audio for music, film and gaming. As such, courses in venue management, mixing techniques in immersive audio, and concert promotion and touring are popular with students. The school also hosts a revolving mix of industry speakers. Mixing engineer Andrew Scheps and recording engineer George Massenburg are among recent visitors to campus.

Event: This summer, MTSU students produced over 30 segments for Hulu’s Bonnaroo Music Festival channel, which streamed the event.

Monmouth University
West Long Branch, N.J.

Monmouth’s music industry program combines coursework from the university’s business school with its music and music business curriculum, a hybrid model that prepares students for a range of opportunities in the arts industry. Home of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, the school incorporates hands-on activities like its student-run record label, Blue Hawk Records, and leverages partnerships with major music organizations, tech companies, agencies and a state-of-the-art recording complex in Asbury Park. Last year, the new Monmouth Artists for Diversity & Inclusion released an album on Blue Hawk, and the organization’s founding members were awarded a joint senatorial and gubernatorial proclamation from the State of New Jersey for contributions to society.

Alumnus: Joe Bognanno is director of music publishing licensing and partnerships at TikTok/ByteDance.

Musicians Institute

Anderson .Paak was once a drum student and a drum teacher’s assistant at Musicians Institute, whose Hollywood location puts it at the nexus of the entertainment world. The school’s music business program offers detailed specialization in every area of the industry through a frequently updated curriculum taught by professionals. Courses cover the gamut from law and contracts to music publishing and licensing to artist and tour management, A&R and record labels, distribution, promotion and marketing. Musicians Institute is also continually honing industry partnerships that serve as a direct line into the workforce through internships.

Event: During a recent online social media workshop, BRXND vp of artist management and digital strategy Dan Tsurif discussed the importance of social media marketing and explained how platforms can aid developing artists and brands.

New York University — Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
New York

The ongoing addition of courses like advanced topics in recorded music and music publishing, co-taught in person by RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Glazier and National Music Publishers’ Association president/CEO David Israelite, is just one way NYU Steinhardt ensures students are learning from the leaders at the cutting edge of the music business. For the course Village Records, students work with independent artists on career development areas including live performance, sound recording, product management, publicity, management and fan engagement. The Steinhardt program also allows students to take classes at NYU’s Stern School of Business and offers options for them to complete studies on its campus in Nashville (through a program designed in partnership with Universal Music Group) or at any of 12 global campus sites including Los Angeles, London, Paris and Shanghai.

Speaker: David Gray, executive vp of U.S. A&R and head of global creative for Universal Music Publishing Group, is an executive in residence and engages with students at least three times each semester.

New York University — Tisch School of the Arts, Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music
New York

A holistic understanding of business, performance, production, writing, history and emerging media is the goal of the Clive Davis Institute, which counts Maggie Rogers among its notable graduates. Students work with resident artists, such as singer-songwriter Dawn Richard and singer Jamila Woods, and executives in residence. Columbia Records A&R executive Katie Vinten served in the latter role this past year and also led a summer accelerator program. Other recent speakers included Atlantic Records president of A&R Pete Ganbargs, Hipgnosis Songs Fund founder and CEO Merck Mercuriadis and Patreon co-founder and CEO Jack Conte. In partnership with Billboard, the institute offers an online music industry essentials course. In 2022, Barry Manilow and school officials joined Davis at the opening of the Clive Davis Gallery at NYU. The institute is also expanding geographically, recently launching a study abroad program in Berlin.

Event: Pop Conference 2023, held in April at the institute, hosted guests including Timbaland, NPR music critic Ann Powers and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

Sony Music Entertainment chief creative officer Clive Davis, who endowed New York University’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, attended the 2022 opening of a permanent gallery focusing on his career at the school’s campus in his native Brooklyn.

Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Northeastern University — College of Arts, Media and Design

Northeastern’s bachelor of science in music with a concentration in music industry encourages students to become entrepreneurial thought leaders and change agents across the music business. Aside from classes focused on topics including actionable analytics in the music industry and artist management, the school is home to Good Dog Licensing, a student-run music synch company through which students receive hands-on experience and offers four- or six-month co-op experiential learning opportunities. New this year is a university chapter of the nearly four-decade-old nonprofit Women in Music, dedicated to fostering equality in the music industry through the support and advancement of women.

Event: In honor of World Mental Health Day in October 2022, the Women in Music Boston chapter presented Mental Health Awareness for Artists and Their Allies, a panel to guide musicians with resources and information about emotional well-being.

Occidental College
Los Angeles

Occidental’s music business courses are embedded within its liberal arts curriculum, and many of the students in music department classes major or double-major in other disciplines such as economics, math, politics, chemistry, philosophy and physics. The school’s location gives students access to a capital of the music industry, providing immersive education through internships and other opportunities. In 2022, Occidental formalized its relationship with Warner Music Group (whose former CEO Steve Cooper is an alumnus) and has since hosted events with WMG executives for students from all majors who are interested in a career in music business.

Event: Warner Chappell Production Music vp/head of legal and business affairs Steve Touchton met with students in March to share his 25 years of experience, field questions and offer advice on entering the business side of the music industry.

Oklahoma State University — The Greenwood School of Music
Stillwater, Okla.

OSU’s bachelor of science in music industry, established in 2017, remains the fastest-growing music program at the school. Recent developments include the Greenwood School of Music’s new facilities, which opened in 2021, and a collaboration this year with Kicker, a Stillwater-headquartered audio manufacturer with which students partnered on the research and design of a potential new product. The student-run music company Poke U comprises a record label, music publisher, concert promotion and musical products divisions, and the school has a robust speaker and alums network. Once again, the New York Philharmonic residency returned to the university’s McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, adjacent to the campus, with the opportunity for students to work with the business staff of the orchestra.

Event: Alumnus Garth Brooks in April delivered two concerts at OSU: a scholarship benefit show and a free performance exclusively for OSU students.

Rhodes College — Mike Curb Institute for Music

Rhodes College and the Curb Institute benefit from their location in the artistically vibrant city of Memphis, as Curb students tap experiential opportunities in the city. In 2022, the institute launched the Curb Community Fellows program, which provides funding for students to work directly with local professionals and organizations such as Goner Records, the Overton Park Shell, the Memphis Music Initiative and the STAX Museum of American Soul Music. On campus, they can engage with Dredge, a student-produced zine and social media platform focused on the Memphis arts scene, and Beyond Beale, a student-produced podcast that explores underresearched aspects of the city’s music history. The first two seasons received honorable mention recognition by the NPR Student Podcast Challenge.

Courses: In fall 2024, Rhodes will offer two new certificates in music industry studies — content production and arts entrepreneurship — that complement the college’s core liberal arts mission.

State University of New York, Oneonta
Oneonta, N.Y.

The music industry program at SUNY Oneonta is designed to appeal to aspiring executives, as well as students interested in technical fields like audio production or who are entrepreneurial musicians. In addition to the core courses, music industry students are required to complete a sequence of courses in the SUNY Oneonta School of Business, an array of general education courses and at least one course from a slate of electives such as concert production, through which students conceive, plan and manage a series of live concert events on campus and in the Oneonta community. Off-campus learning and networking experiences include a faculty-led trip to the annual NAMM trade show in Los Angeles.

Events: John Mayer recently engaged with music industry program students through a video conference; another event connected students with members of the Dave Matthews Band. (Mayer and Matthews are both clients of business manager and Cal Financial Group founder Rit Venerus, an Oneonta alumnus.)

Syracuse University — Bandier Program for Recording and ­Entertainment Industries
Syracuse, N.Y.
This year marked the return of the Bandier Program’s international immersion trip, with a dozen students traveling in May to meet with more than 40 executives at music companies in Singapore; Jakarta, Indonesia; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Bangkok. On campus, students choose from an ever-evolving variety of courses and also tackle entertainment industry exploration, the program’s capstone, for which seniors must build a functioning and profitable real-world business. The previous academic year also saw rapid growth in the readership of Full Rate No Cap, a free weekly email of industry analysis that program director (and former Billboard editorial director) Bill Werde crafts for students to read; the email underpins a weekly, programwide student-led discussion about industry trends and headlines. Subscribers number in the thousands and include top executives at virtually every major music company around the globe.

Event: The weekly Wednesday-night speaker series this past academic year scheduled over 25 guest lectures from industry pros including Warner Music Group chief digital officer/executive vp of business development Oana Ruxandra and Apple Music creative director/radio host Zane Lowe.

Temple University — Klein College of Media and Communication

Temple University’s Klein College offers an interdisciplinary bachelor of arts in audio and live entertainment that also includes courses in the music and business schools. The college’s mission is to empower and prepare the media creators of tomorrow to be ethical, analytical and creative leaders. The faculty has a wealth of industry experience, and courses are often complemented by presentations by industry creatives and executives including Grammy and Academy Award winner Questlove and American Association of Independent Music CEO Richard Burgess. (Philly native Questlove received the college’s 2022 Lew Klein Excellence in the Media Award.) A student-run record label interfaces with student radio, TV and other ventures in a collegewide media ecosystem, and a study abroad program offers opportunities in top global music markets such as Tokyo and London.

Alumnus: Multiple Grammy-winning producer Noah Goldstein, founder of Ark Publishing, has worked with artists including Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Rihanna and Paul McCartney.

Questlove received the Lew Klein Excellence in the Media Award from Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication in 2022.

Kayla Oaddams/Getty Images

Tennessee State University

One of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, TSU is located in the heart of Nashville and offers a commercial music program as a concentration within the school’s music department. Perks include small class sizes, targeted courses such as music business and law, access to a variety of internships and mentor programs, and ample guest speakers who have recently included producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and BMI executive director, creative Shannon Sanders, a TSU alumna. Harry Fox Agency client solutions coordinator Dashawn Howard and Grammy-nominated producer Dwane “Keywane” Wier are among other alums.

Event: In May, the music business accelerator program, which offers Black college students in Tennessee career resources to help them break into the industry, held an event at TSU in partnership with Amazon Music, Nashville Music Equality, the RIAA and Wasserman Music.

University of California, Los Angeles — Herb Alpert School of Music
Los Angeles

Spurred by the success of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s music history and industry degree program and its music industry minor, the school this fall introduced a major in music industry. The new program, which complements the performance, composition, musicology and music education programs already offered, provides students with a high level of liberal arts integration to ensure they master the skills needed for a successful creative industry career. Classes immerse students in a range of subjects from data science for the music industry to music and activism, and internship and employment opportunities abound as those enrolled in the program benefit from the school’s relationships with an array of music companies. A major gift from former Warner Bros. Records chairman Mo Ostin, who died in 2022, funded construction of the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center.

Speaker: Amy Davidman, founder of and agent at TBA Agency, recently spoke with students on campus.

University of Colorado Denver

The university offers two course tracks for students interested in pursuing a career in the music industry: one for performing students and another to provide the chops to work as managers, publishers, music supervisors and/or marketers. Students in the lattermost progression take courses examining music supervision and synch licensing, music publishing, music marketing, law and the music industry, artist management and more. Additionally this year, the Mechanical Licensing Collective appointed faculty member Dan Hodges as one of its educator ambassadors to advise students on the importance of registering music with the MLC to collect interactive streaming royalties.

Partnership: The Nashville Songwriter Association International this past year launched a chapter at the university.

University of Miami — Frost School of Music

Under director Serona Elton, whom the Music Business Association recently named the first music business educator of the year, Frost’s music industry program is expanding. It recently launched a bachelor of arts in music industry major for nonperformers, an addition to its well-established bachelor of music in music industry and master of arts in music industry. Along with its diversity of courses and proximity to the Latin offices of many major music companies, the program also offers a variety of student-run enterprises including ’Cane Records, Cat 5 Music and Frost Sounds, as well as a campus radio station, concert production organization, numerous concert halls and music industry student association.

Course: Students in recorded-music operations learn about A&R, production, distribution, marketing/promotion, licensing and royalties and use Chartmetric to analyze the consumption of their favorite artists’ tracks.

In May, Serona Elton (right), director of the music industry program at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, received the Music Business Association’s first music educator of the year award, presented by president Portia Sabin.

Laura E. Partain

University of North Texas — College of Music
Denton, Texas

Options abound at UNT’s College of Music, located on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the country’s largest public-university music program. It offers degrees from bachelor to doctoral levels and is home to the world’s first jazz studies degree program, now in its 75th year. The school is continually adding faculty and courses to the curriculum, offered fully online or in a hybrid format, with options ranging from music leadership to performing arts management to touring. The curriculum leading to a master’s in music business, launched just three years ago, supports student goals within music technology and entrepreneurship. In 2021, the Yamaha Institution of Excellence program included the UNT College of Music in its inaugural list of 10 distinguished colleges and universities recognizing extraordinary commitment to innovation in the study of music.

Event: Julian Peterson, associate director at Gearbox Software and a composer, audio programmer, sound designer and researcher, recently met with students.

University of Rochester — Eastman School of Music
Rochester, N.Y.

It’s all about flexibility at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School. Students can earn a double degree, a minor concentration or just take courses related to their interests. Among the options, Eastman offers a master of arts in music leadership and a commercial music industry experience through the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media, where students have opportunities to work with the Rochester Institute of Technology’s film, animation and video game development schools. The Electroacoustic Music Studios at Eastman introduces students to electronic music technologies. And student-run ensembles provide commercial and music leadership skills, including the Empire Film and Media Ensemble, a live-to-film ensemble, and OSSIA, the school’s student-run new music ensemble.

Alumnus: Eastman’s Beal Institute was named after its founder, alumnus Jeff Beal, a five-time Emmy-winning composer of film and TV scores. Beal is a frequent guest speaker and students have traveled to Los Angeles to work with him for an immersive experience.

University of Southern California — Iovine and Young Academy
Los Angeles

USC’s Iovine and Young Academy innovators forum hosts leaders in diverse disciplines, industries and the arts to present and discuss problems facing society and to critique real-world projects. Recent guests have included TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie. That’s just one way the interdisciplinary-focused academy provides a framework for students interested in the music industry to study topics from reimagining virtual concert events to building a new artificial intelligence-driven music platform. Endowed by industry entrepreneurs Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, the academy offers a bachelor of science in arts, technology and the business of innovation and a master of science in integrated design, business and technology.

Event: For the Masters of Scale ­podcast in June, Iovine spoke with Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and former senior vp of Apple, about success, motivation and education.

University of Southern California — Thornton School of Music
Los Angeles

Close ties with the L.A. music community are core to the DNA at USC Thornton, which offers both an undergraduate and 18-month master’s program in the music industry. Students benefit from an abundance of networking, internship and job opportunities across areas such as touring, marketing, branding, business and law, and the school provides a classroom guest list that recently included Ali Harnell, global president/chief strategy officer of Live Nation Women. Collaboration and camaraderie are also emphasized among students who will one day join an alums network that includes DreamWorks Animation senior vp of TV music Alex Nickson and Warner Records senior vp of creative sync licensing Julia Betley.

Events: Thornton’s producers forum has hosted speakers including Merck Mercuriadis, founder and CEO of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, and Lee Zeidman, president of Arena, Peacock Theater and L.A. Live.

William Paterson University
Wayne, N.J.

William Paterson University’s music and entertainment industries program focuses on today’s industry from an independent artist and label perspective. Courses, including the popular Backstage: The Business of Touring, focus on three key pillars of music income: live, recording and publishing. The program has hosted visiting resident experts including Kate Hyman, former vp of A&R for BMG, and Mark Robinson, senior vp of music strategy, business and legal affairs at Paramount. And while internships are a core tenet, students also benefit from industry professionals who come to campus, including Vydia co-president Jenna Gaudio in a recent visit.

Alums: Theresa Abou-Daoud, production assistant with Tyler, The Creator, and Nathaniel Meyerowitz, associate manager of experience at Wasserman, are among recent graduates of the program.

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 7, 2023, issue of Billboard.