Billboard’s 2022 Top Music Business Schools Revealed

When Billboard’s most recent report on top music business schools was published in late April 2020, we optimistically wrote that colleges and universities were “preparing to reopen” that fall.

Remote learning, of course, continued throughout the past year due to the persistence of COVID-19 and its variants. So like many students, this report took a “gap year” in 2021, awaiting the return of in-person classes, internships and encounters that fuel the finest educational experiences.


Billboard’s top music business schools are chosen based on industry recommendations, alumni information provided by honorees from our multiple power lists, information requested from each school and nearly a decade of reporting on these programs.

At a time of cost-consciousness, we have prioritized the inclusion of more affordable public colleges and universities. This is our most geographically diverse list to date. Also, two of the nation’s oldest historically Black universities, Fisk University in Nashville and Howard University in Washington, D.C., have been added to this year’s list, along with BIMM Institute, the largest provider of contemporary music education in Europe.

The schools here are listed alphabetically. Scores of data points — from admission rates to tuition and fees to graduation rates — are available to prospective students through impartial sources such as College Navigator, a resource of The Institute of Education Sciences, a division of the U.S. Department of Education. (Notably, even Princeton University president Christopher L. Eisgruber, despite his school earning No. 1 status in U.S. News & World Report, recently wrote: “I am convinced … that the rankings game is a bit of mishegoss — a slightly wacky obsession that does harm when taken too seriously.”)

The music industry, however, has good reason to take the graduates of these programs very seriously.

These are young men and women running all aspects of on-campus record labels, crafting career-launching business plans, engaging in data analysis and benefiting from on-campus speakers who represent the highest levels of the music business, both artists and executives alike. Graduates of these institutions will display their diplomas proudly.

But even the most accomplished musicians can still relish receiving a degree from a top music business school. In August, at a private event in Santa Monica, Calif., attended by fellow artists including Terri Lyne Carrington, Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, the Berklee College of Music presented an honorary degree to Joni Mitchell.

“I wish my parents were alive,” Mitchell said. “My mother in particular would be really proud of this because she wanted me to go to college. I went to art school, and I quit after a year. She thinks of me as a quitter. So to see this achievement would be really impressive to her. I wish I could share it with her.” —THOM DUFFY

Abbey Road Institute

Abbey Road Institute moved to new headquarters at London’s refurbished Angel Studios in January, having outgrown its original home at the famous Abbey Road Studios. Launched in collaboration with Abbey Road owner Universal Music Group in 2015, the institute offers advanced one-year diplomas in music production and sound engineering, as well as a five-month diploma in audio postproduction for film and TV, providing hands-on training in all aspects of recording, mixing and mastering. Alumni have gone on to work with Madonna, Calvin Harris, Little Mix and P!nk, as well as projects for Netflix and Universal Music. Abbey Road Institute Miami opened last year, joining sister international sites in Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney, Johannesburg and Frankfurt, Germany.

Event: In July, the institute held its first global graduation since 2019 to celebrate the achievements of students at its multiple locations outside the United States. The ceremony was held in Abbey Road’s Studio Two, where such luminaries as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Oasis and Adele have recorded.

Baldwin Wallace University
Berea, Ohio

Located about 15 minutes from downtown Cleveland, Baldwin Wallace University offers classes led by guest faculty who work in the music business and recently added courses about industry trends, taught by the founder of Alternative Press magazine, and music festival production, taught by the founder of Lambda Productions, producer of Bonnaroo, Governors Ball and Outside Lands. Students also acquire skills at nearby businesses through partnerships with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Tragic Hero Records and independent music venues like Beachland Ballroom & Tavern and Music Box Supper Club. In 2021, the university, which houses a renowned conservatory, was invited to become an educational affiliate of the Grammy Museum.

Event: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president/CEO Greg Harris presented the keynote at the school’s 2022 Arts Innovation Summit.

Belmont University — Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business

Belmont University, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks
Belmont University alumna Trisha Yearwood and husband Garth Brooks offered a performance and Q&A session to students at her alma mater.

Bonnaroo returned this year, and students in the Belmont at Bonnaroo program were back behind the scenes for three weeks of hands-on research, backstage conversations with industry leaders and a week of living with peers on a tour bus. Another popular course at Belmont — which is home to four studios reserved solely for student use and historic studio spaces on Music Row that double as unique classrooms — is the eight-week Inside the Agency program, in association with Creative Artists Agency. In 2022, Belmont Service Corps students have attended the Grammy Awards and worked at events including the MusiCares Person of the Year and Black Music Collective galas.

Event: Belmont recently hosted an exclusive performance and Q&A session with alumna Trisha Yearwood and husband Garth Brooks, which 1,000 students attended. The artists discussed the business of music and the craft of songwriting.

Berklee College Of Music

The Berklee College of Music offers two degrees for students pursuing careers in the industry: a bachelor of music in music business/management and a new bachelor of arts in music industry leadership and innovation, which debuted in the fall. The Berklee Popular Music Institute, which is part of the college, offers the three-semester BPMI Live course comprising on-site experience at festivals including Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Music Midtown and Essence. Berklee artists get a chance to perform at the festivals, while students enrolled in the class learn from executives who work across A&R, artist development, concert production, booking, promotion, publicity, social media and sponsorships. In October 2020, Berklee named as its new president Erica Muhl, the founding executive director of the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy at the University of Southern California.

Berklee College Of Music
Valencia, Spain

Boston-based Berklee College of Music’s sister campus in Valencia offers a one-year master’s degree in global entertainment and music business, attended by students from around the globe and offering concentrations in live entertainment, entrepreneurship and the record industry. Students can work at the on-campus record label Disrupción Records and learn from guest speakers that have recently included Ithaca Holdings/SB Projects founder Scooter Braun and Sophia Chang, who helped guide the careers of Paul Simon and Wu-Tang Clan. The Berklee Global Career Summit, held annually in January, is a four-day boot camp that focuses on professional development and career paths through a series of keynotes, panels, workshops and individual mentoring sessions.

Course: Students in the Data Analytics in the Music Industry course examine real-world examples of how analytics significantly improve management decisions, strategies and artist success.

BIMM Institute
Brighton, England

The BIMM Institute is the largest provider of contemporary music education in Europe, hosting over 7,000 students each academic year, with colleges in Ireland, Germany and throughout England. It provides industry-focused training at degree, master’s and diploma levels, including music performance, songwriting, production, business, marketing and event management. Alumni include artists George Ezra, James Bay, Ella Mai and Fontaines D.C. The institute recently partnered with Spotify to offer scholarships and mentoring opportunities with Spotify executives for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Certification: In July, the U.K. Department for Education granted the BIMM Institute full university status.

The BRIT School
Croydon, England

Since The BRIT School opened its doors in 1991, over 10,000 students have attended the tuition-free creative arts institution, including Adele, Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Cush Jumbo and Tom Holland. Co-founded 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 offers training in music and music technology, dance, theater and digital design for 1,400 pupils between the ages of 14 and 19. In March, the school — located 12 miles outside central London — launched a 10 million pound ($11.6 million) fundraising campaign to build on its legacy.

In Memoriam: After the Sept. 8 death of Queen Elizabeth II, the school posted photos of the monarch’s July visit to the campus as part of her Golden Jubilee celebration.

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

CalArts’ Herb Alpert School produces students who have not only learned about the music business but also experienced it as creators. Even those who intend to pursue nonperforming roles engage in performing, composing, producing or otherwise developing music. On the industry side, the school offers courses including creative producing for music, a digital recording studio and a hands-on exploration of the do-it-yourself/release-it-yourself culture that spans producing, performing and marketing. That course draws on examples from marketing in the punk rock era to the digital distribution of experimental sound works.

Speakers: Jace Clayton, who penned the book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture, and percussionist-composer and international cultural policy consultant Sidney Hopson have recently shared inspiration with students.

California State University, Northridge
Los Angeles

While copyright, publishing, licensing and recording contracts are among the industry topics explored in the classroom, the Music Industry Studies program at CSUN prides itself on experiential learning and entrepreneurship. Students receive experience through Vove, a student-run record label for which they select, record, promote and manage an “artist of the year,” including arranging live performances and assisting with copyright and performing rights registration. Under the school’s internship requirement, all attendees must earn four credits working in a sector of the music business, from publishing to labels to live events.

Alumnus: Singer-songwriter-producer Andy Grammer’s 2014 single “Honey I’m Good” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs (and No. 9 on the Hot 100) and has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA.

Delta State University Entertainment Industry Studies
Cleveland, Miss.

Students in Delta State’s Entertainment Industry Studies program can explore a range of skill-building courses from audio engineering technology to entertainment industry entrepreneurship. An education partner with Grammy Museum Mississippi and an Avid Learning partner, the school is situated in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and offers a suite of selections for those seeking real-world knowledge of concepts, skills and practices in the entertainment sector, including an entrepreneurship class that caters to students seeking a nonperforming role in the music business.

Speaker: Shelter Music Group artist manager Tom Storms, who has managed the careers of India.Arie, Collective Soul, Better Than Ezra, Uncle Kracker and Sugar Ray, recently visited the campus.

Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts and Design

In a class taught in tandem with data analytics company Chartmetric, students at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design have the opportunity to create models to predict artist success based on performance metrics. The school offers other data-based learning, such as courses in how to select the methods, fundamentals, environments and occasions to apply data analysis, as well as how to write queries and formulas in multiple programming languages. Additional classes in copyright, publishing, music production and listening techniques enable students to both understand industry concepts and build a vocabulary to better communicate about music.

Alumna: Peloton Interactive manager of global music strategy Sarah Detwiler oversees the company’s online All for One Music Festival, which showcased 33 artists during 160 of its classes in August.

Fisk University

In June 2021, Fisk University became the nation’s first historically Black college or university to join the academic partnership program of the Music Business Association (aka Music Biz). “The integration of the HBCU community into Music Biz’s membership is an imperative step for us to achieve our goal of further diversifying the music business,” the association’s president, Portia Sabin, said upon the partnership’s announcement. At Fisk, Dr. Paul T. Kwami, music discipline coordinator and director of the renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers, added: “I am confident that Fisk students will take advantage of this partnership and realize the opportunities that exist at Fisk and within the music business.” The program provides participating schools with sources of scholarships, access to Music Biz’s biannual #nextgen_u student summits and more.

Full Sail University
Winter Park, Fla.

Students enrolled in Full Sail’s music business bachelor of science program gain experience talent-scouting and pitching, creating assets, developing social media marketing and producing events for musicians participating in the program’s artist development initiative. Industry-themed workshops each Friday focus on tech skills and career topics at the school, which has five undergraduate music and recording degree program offerings in audio production, music business, music production, recording arts and show production. Full Sail is also home to a robust guest speaker circuit that has included executives — and potential employers — from Microsoft Game Studios, Fever, Samsung, Disney and Carnival Cruise Line.

Alumnus: Gary Rizzo won the Academy Award for best achievement in sound mixing in 2011 and 2018 for his work on Inception and Dunkirk, respectively.

Hofstra University
Hempstead, N.Y.

Michael Goldstone, Hofstra University
Mom + Pop Music founder Michael Goldstone participated in a Zoom master class offered to Hofstra University students.

In 2021, Hofstra’s music business program added a bachelor of arts music business major for nonperformers — just one of the developments under program director Terry Tompkins, the veteran artist manager, label executive and festival organizer who joined the faculty in 2017. Since Tompkins’ arrival, enrollment in the program has risen 204%, according to the school. Hofstra’s close proximity to Manhattan allows for ample internship opportunities at music-related companies of all stripes and a busy schedule of guest speakers that recently included AEG Presents senior vp of marketing and artist development Rich Holtzman. The campus also now houses new music production facilities, including a state-of-the-art MIDI computer lab completed in January, and by the end of 2022 will unveil recording studio facilities renovated by Criterion Acoustics.

Master Class: A recent partnership with Mom + Pop Music offered a master class A&R series and one-on-one mentoring sessions with Mom + Pop employees such as label founder Michael “Goldie” Goldstone.

Howard University Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music and Entertainment Business Fellowship Program
Washington, D.C.

In March 2021, the Howard University School of Business announced a $4.9 million gift from Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund. Howard, one of the nation’s most prestigious historically Black colleges and universities, used the gift to create a new music and entertainment program fellowship within its business school. “This gift honors the historic legacy Black people have made in the industry while making a crucial investment in today’s students who will become the leaders of tomorrow,” said Howard University president Wayne A. I. Frederick.

Alumnus: WMG executive vp/head of business and legal affairs Julian Petty, who is also a member of the advisory board of the Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund.

Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
Bloomington, Ind.

Introduction to Music Entrepreneurship, a course included as part of a certificate in music entrepreneurship, is offered to all undergraduate students in the Jacobs School of Music. It is linked to a campus-wide certificate through the university’s Kelley School of Business and is just one example of the school’s collaborative environment, which combines a world-class conservatory with a curriculum aimed at producing leaders in music research, education, business and administration. In July, the school named Abra K. Bush the David Henry Jacobs Bicentennial Dean. Bush, former senior associate dean of institute studies at The Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute, is Jacobs’ first female dean and one of the few women leading a prominent U.S. music school.

Event: The school’s Community Engagement Summit in November 2021 included Sphinx Org president Afa Dworkin, Play On Philly director Stanford Thompson and American Composers Orchestra president/CEO Melissa Ngan as keynoters.

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

The Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business program (MEBUS) was founded in 2010 under the Coles College of Business with the support of Katz, a leading music industry attorney. Home to Katz’s extensive memorabilia collection, which includes pieces from James Brown, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, MEBUS offers three capstone courses in music and the entertainment business, audio production and technology, and video production and technology, and students can study in London. In 2019, MEBUS and the College of Computing and Software Engineering launched the KSU Disney Interactive Entertainment Study program, a four-week session held at the Walt Disney World Caribbean Resort in Orlando, Fla., focusing on music, film, TV, video games, 3D modeling and animation.

Event: MEBUS Mixers, held each semester at MadLife Stage & Studios in Woodstock, Ga., include 25 student performers, student stage managers, promoters and video and audio producers.

Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts
Liverpool, England

Co-founded by Paul McCartney in 1996, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, known as LIPA, provides a large program of university-level creative and performing arts training, including a recently launched master’s degree qualification in music industry professional management. Other core music courses at the institute — located on the site of McCartney and George Harrison’s former school, and the Liverpool Art College, which John Lennon once attended — cover songwriting, performance, sound technology and production, with recent internships offered at Warner Music, Live Nation and Sentric Music Publishing. Sean McNamara succeeded co-founder Mark Featherstone-Witty as principal and CEO last year.

Macca’s Back: McCartney, who continued his annual songwriting mentorship sessions online during the pandemic and participated in an online Q&A with students, attended LIPA’s graduation in July for the first time since 2019.

Los Angeles College Of Music
Pasadena, Calif.

LACM’s music business program is growing. The school will launch its master’s degree program in fall 2023, and a master of arts in music industry will be among the first offerings available. Meanwhile, LACM’s bachelor’s program addresses aspects of the music business such as A&R, the history of the digital revolution and music marketing, while its associate courses focus on areas including production tools and the basics of songwriting and performing. LACM continues to attract a strong roster of guest speakers, including Stefan and Jordan Johnson of songwriting/production team The Monsters & Strangerz, and the school recently held a master class with songwriter-producer-performer Tim Pagnotta, whose credits include Walk the Moon, Weezer and Blink-182.

Alumna: Amber Dundee, a producer and tour manager at 3T Entertainment, has worked with Iyla, G-Eazy, Too $hort and The-Dream.

Los Angeles Film School The Los Angeles Recording School
Los Angeles

Post Malone, Kehlani and Snoop Dogg are among the superstars who have shared insights with students at the L.A. Recording School, which is housed in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard and offers a range of degrees including an associate of science in audio production or music production, and a bachelor’s degree in audio production, media communications or music production. The school is home to professional recording studios where students can train as if they were in a real-world work environment and a program concentration in music business that covers marketing strategies, brand development, A&R and tour management.

Alumnus: During his decadelong career, producer and engineer Daniel Zaidenstadt has contributed to over 30 gold and platinum albums, working with Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga and Zayn Malik.

Loyola University College of Music and Media
New Orleans

New Orleans’ uniquely vibrant culture sets the pace at Loyola, where the College of Music and Media houses the newly combined and renamed School of Music and Theatre Professions. Loyola’s bachelor of arts in music industry studies allows students to focus on core coursework in legal issues, management, marketing, contracts and compensation, entrepreneurship and music technology. In a city known for live performance, students help run stage management and production and have opportunities to perform at French Quarter Fest, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and many of New Orleans’ live venues, including Tipitina’s and House of Blues. They can also serve as recording engineers in the school’s state-of-the-art studios that have hosted Lil Wayne, Tank and others.

Alumnus: Carter Lang co-wrote and produced Post Malone’s “Sunflower,” which earned two Grammy nominations in 2019 and spent 33 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.

Middle Tennessee State University College of Media and Entertainment
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

MTSU is located just an hour from Nashville, and opportunities abound for students in the school’s Department of Recording Industry to participate in industry events from Bonnaroo to the CMA Music Festival to the CMT Awards. An on-campus venue, the Chris Young Cafe, hosts courses such as venue management and live sound optimization, while student-run label Match Records provides the framework to study music business and advanced songwriting. Other courses include concert touring and promotion, marketing of recordings, digital strategies for the music business and advanced publishing administration. Six recording studios and seven production labs are open 24/7. Guest speakers including Barry Gibb and Alison Krauss have taken the stage at the department, which was established in 1973 and is one of the country’s oldest music business programs.

Alumnus: Mike Molinar, GM of Big Machine Music, was key to the company opening an L.A. office in January 2002.

Monmouth University Music and Theater Arts Department
West Long Branch, N.J.

Home of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, Monmouth offers a hybrid model that combines classic business coursework from the university’s business school with its music and music business curriculum. The record label strategies class is directly connected with Blue Hawk Records, a student-run label, through which students assume all roles of a contemporary music company. Each semester students participate as A&R representatives, managers, producers, creative and distribution agents, artists and/or session musicians as they conceive, produce and release a new compilation album, accompanied with the production of a live showcase. This spring, the students in the class released their 20th compilation album on Blue Hawk Records. Monmouth Artists for Diversity & Inclusion, created last year by a group of faculty and music industry students, also released an album on Blue Hawk. The organization’s founding members were awarded a joint senatorial and gubernatorial proclamation from the State of New Jersey for contributions to society.

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

The music business program at Steinhardt combines an international focus with access to New York’s resources. Students can study on campuses in three cities including Nashville, in a program Steinhardt designed in partnership with Universal Music Group or in any one of 12 global sites including London, Prague, Paris and Shanghai. Classes are as varied as the locales. A course in music innovation and social change is taught by the director of the NYU Music and Social Change Lab; the emerging models and markets class is delivered in Rio de Janeiro. Through Village Records, a required course in the undergraduate music business program of study, students work with independent music artists on career development in such areas as live performance, sound recording, product management, publicity, management and fan engagement.

Alumna: Lynn Gonzalez, recently promoted to executive vp of business affairs and business development at Def Jam Recordings, is on the policy committee for UMG’s Task Force for Meaningful Change.

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

Youssou N’Dour
Youssou N’Dour participated in a keynote discussion during NYU’s Pop Conference in April 2022.

Jack Antonoff, 100 gecs and Columbia Records A&R executive Katie Vinten are among recent artists- and executives-in-residence at the Clive Davis Institute — now fully ensconced at the school’s new state-of-the-art campus in Brooklyn that features a reconstruction of the Beastie Boys’ iconic recording studio, Oscilloscope Laboratories. This summer, Vinten hosted an eight-week accelerator program, one of many new courses at the institute. The professional development initiative rolled out earlier this year and bridges the school’s academic and professional practice, offering customized training, mentorship, resources and networking events. Juniors study abroad for a semester through one of NYU’s many global programs and, as of fall 2021, all students receive focused business mentorship throughout the entirety of their enrollment. In 2021, the institute appointed a new advisory board, with members including Binta Niambi Brown, Dream Hampton, Drew Dixon, Meshell Ndegeocello, Sylvia Rhone and Wendy Ong, to complement the work of its faculty and staff.

Conference: NPR’s Ann Powers moderated “The Way Back Home: How Musicians Navigate Race and Borders,” a multi-artist keynote featuring musician Youssou N’Dour and others, at the school’s Pop Conference in April.

Occidental College
Los Angeles

Occidental College, Steve Cooper, Charlie Cohen, Craig R. Kallman and Harry J. Elam
Occidental College in March hosted “Warner Music Group and Oxy: Building a Career in Media, Music & Entertainment” for young alumni and students. From left: WMG’s Charlie Cohen, Atlantic Records’ Craig Kallman, WMG’s Steve Cooper, college president Harry Elam and Jamila Chambers, executive director of the college’s career center.

At Occidental College, the study of music business is embedded within the liberal arts curriculum, where many nonperforming music students double-major in disciplines ranging from economics to computer science to film studies. Located in L.A., one of the centers of the global music industry, the school offers abundant access to internships and has developed courses such as introduction to music business, where students collaborate to create artist profiles and business plans that they then execute through digital service providers such as Bandcamp and Spotify, as well as offline. Occidental recently added a state-of-the-art music studio and computer lab, the Choi Family Music Production Center, designed by Peter Grueneisen of nonzero\architecture, who’s known for his work for Sony Music, DreamWorks and Hans Zimmer.

Event: In March, Occidental College president Harry J. Elam Jr. presided over a panel discussion featuring Stephen Cooper, alumnus and Warner Music Group CEO; Charlie Cohen, alumnus and WMG president of TV, film and live theater; and Craig Kallman, a parent of an Occidental sophomore and chairman/CEO of Atlantic Records.

Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music
Stillwater, Okla.

OSU’s bachelor of science in music industry, established in 2017, is now the second-largest and fastest-growing music program at the school, fueled by the Greenwood School of Music’s new facilities, which opened in 2021, and its access to industry talent. Case in point: OSU’s most famous alumnus, Garth Brooks, will present in-person sessions on the music industry this fall. The music industry program houses student-run music company Poke U, which comprises a record label, music publisher, concert promotion and musical products divisions. Music industry majors also have the opportunity to start an MBA program during their senior year, earning a master’s degree in business administration through OSU’s Spears School of Business accelerated MBA program in only one additional year.

Residency: The school’s McKnight Center for the Performing Arts and the New York Philharmonic in March announced a three-year residency that will bring the orchestra regularly to Stillwater to benefit students at OSU and local public schools.

Pepperdine University Institute for Entertainment, Media and Sports
Malibu, Calif.

For more than six years, Pepperdine’s Institute for Entertainment, Media and Sports has tapped the expertise of the university’s Graziadio Business School for both undergraduate- and graduate-level studies immersed in the creative economy. This summer, Pepperdine announced Graziadio will now house IEMS to support the institute, which continues to bolster pathways to employment and leadership opportunities in entertainment, media and sports both locally and abroad. For 2022, in cooperation with the business school, IEMS partnered with two organizations that are helping to lead the industry’s digital transformation: Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and OTT.X.

Event: IEMS partnered with HITS on the Entertainment Evolution Symposium, which was held in September and focused on the impact of technology and analytics in entertainment, media and sports.

Rhodes College Mike Curb Institute for Music
Memphis, Tenn.

The historically rich and artistically vibrant city of Memphis is woven into the experience of all students at Rhodes College’s Mike Curb Institute for Music. Founded in 2006, the institute fosters awareness and understanding of the distinct musical traditions of the South and music’s effects on its culture, history and economy. The institute also immerses students in the industry at large. In 2019, a group of Curb fellows traveled to New York to meet with executives ranging from attorneys who negotiate label deals to brand relationship marketers to PR talent to journalists covering the industry. Deeply rooted in Rhodes’ broader liberal arts focus, the institute aims to produce graduates who not only know how to work in the industry but also how to think broadly about the world.

Events: In 2006, institute namesake and music business veteran Mike Curb bought the house at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis — the first home Elvis Presley bought with royalties he earned from “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956. Today, it hosts the Audubon Sessions, a student-produced concert series.

State University Of New York, College At Oneonta
Oneonta, N.Y.

SUNY Oneonta’s music industry program offers opportunities both in and out of the classroom that prepare students for successful music business careers. With courses ranging from music marketing and merchandising to audio arts production, the school trains students in all aspects of the industry who then put course learning to practice by producing live events on campus, including the annual O-Fest concert, and through an extensive internship program that places them in nonperforming music, media and entertainment industry settings across the country. The college also offers student grants to help fund off-campus learning and networking experiences, including a faculty-led trip to the annual NAMM trade show in L.A. and Bonnaroo music festival “externships.”

Event: Alumnus Rit Venerus, one of Billboard’s top business managers, recently arranged for a virtual class meeting with Grammy-winning artist John Mayer.

Syracuse University Bandier Program for Recording and Entertainment Industries
Syracuse, N.Y.

Aside from a pandemic pause, the Bandier program’s weekly Rezak guest lecture series has taken place in person for over 10 years, offering students the opportunity to meet one-on-one with speakers from across the industry, join them for a small dinner and then lead a large group discussion. This year, speakers included Tat Tong, head of A&R for Sony Music in Greater China; alumna Jacqueline Saturn, president of Virgin Music Label & Artist Services; and songwriter Jennifer Decilveo (Andra Day’s “Rise Up”) among a diverse group of more than 25 music luminaries. It’s just one of the ways the program, a creative community housed within the larger, high-spirited student body of Syracuse, fortifies its industry-facing curriculum.

Course: Social media and data for the music business helps upcoming graduates gain an aptitude for developing solutions to real-world industry scenarios.

University Of California Los Angeles Herb Alpert School of Music
Los Angeles

Already well-entrenched in the music business scene in L.A. and beyond, UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music continues to expand its offerings. Its new bachelor of arts in music history and industry launched in 2020 and builds on the school’s bachelor’s degree in musicology and its music industry minor, with components including a yearlong capstone course and an internship program. The school’s faculty is also striking chords. This summer, inaugural dean Eileen Strempel was named to the board of directors of the International Council of Fine Arts Deans, a multinational alliance of executive academic visual and performing arts, design and media administrators representing institutions of higher education.

Endowment: A major gift from former Warner Bros. Records chairman Mo Ostin, who died in July, funded construction of the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center, which provides students with access to the latest advances in music technology. Ostin also was a member of the dean’s board of advisers at UCLA.

University Of Colorado Denver

CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media, home to the music and entertainment industry studies program, employs an activist-in-residence, and students work closely with Youth On Record and other nonprofits advancing the music industry. The program bolsters its robust music business curriculum with contemporary studies of constituencies, advocacy, policy implications and change agency within the music and entertainment industries, and courses offered include women in the music industry, music cities, current issues in the music industry and revolutionary media. Recently, students and alumni assisted in the development, marketing and research of the acclaimed Amplify Music program and have presented at the Music Cities Convention, NAMM and other forums.

Alumnus: J.J. Italiano, former head of music programming at YouTube North America, was named head of global hits at Spotify in May.

University Of Miami Frost School of Music

Those enrolled in Frost’s music industry program benefit from its small size (approximately 100 students) within the larger music school and university. They have access to extracurricular offerings including several student-run enterprises (including ’Cane Records, Cat 5 Music and Frost Sounds), a campus radio station, a campus concert production organization, numerous concert halls and a music industry student association — not to mention the diverse music industry community in Miami itself. In the past year, Republic Records CEO Monte Lipman and president/COO Avery Lipman and global superstar Pitbull have spoken to students.

Alumnus: Rell Lafargue is president/COO at Reservoir Media.

University Of North Texas College of Music
Denton, Texas

Located on the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, UNT continues to expand the offerings of the country’s largest public university music program. The school’s MBA in music business graduated its second class in spring 2022, and the program continues to add new faculty and courses to prepare students for jobs ranging from A&R to arts venue management to union leadership and publishing. 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. Earlier this year, Tom Sumner, president of Yamaha Corporation of America, visited campus to speak with students.

Faculty: The College of Music recently appointed Jessica Muñiz-Collado assistant professor of music business, Federico Llach assistant professor of commercial music in the division of jazz studies and Jeffrey Hepker assistant professor of commercial music in the division of composition studies.

University Of Southern California Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy
Los Angeles

Andre Young, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Iovine and Young Center
Andre Young (left) and Jimmy Iovine have teamed with the L.A. Unified School District to open the Iovine and Young Center, a high school in the Leimert Park neighborhood, with curriculum that draws from the multidisciplinary approach of their academy at USC.

Iovine and Young Hall, which officially opened in late 2019, is buzzing with students engaged in the school’s unique educational experience, which provides interdisciplinary knowledge and skills essential to developing breakthrough technologies, products, systems and businesses. From reimagining virtual concert events to building a new artificial intelligence-driven music platform, students at the academy — endowed by industry entrepreneurs Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young — immerse in cutting-edge experimentation and graduate at the forefront of driving innovation in the music industry and beyond. The academy now offers a bachelor of science in the arts, technology and the business of innovation and a master of science in integrated design, business and technology.

Course: A new minor combining the expertise of the Iovine Young Academy with USC’s Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication offers the course advancing journalism with human-centered design.

University Of Southern California Thornton School of Music
Los Angeles

USC Thornton has provided an expansive undergraduate music industry program for more than 20 years and continues to enrich its offerings. In the fall of 2018, the school launched a master’s degree in the music industry, an 18-month graduate program comprised of courses in copyright, concerts, artist management, marketing data and analysis, and a one-semester internship. After they immerse in courses about topics such as touring, marketing, branding, business and law, all students have the opportunity to work in a variety of industry sectors from record labels and publishing to management to promotion and touring.

Event: Thornton’s Music Industry Symposium, led by Warped Tour founder and associate professor of practice Kevin Lyman, produced a career networking event that brought together 131 students and professionals through their avatars in an immersive virtual event.

William Paterson University
Wayne, N.J.

The final class taken by students in William Paterson University’s music and entertainment industries program focuses on personal management in the music and entertainment industry, putting the concepts they’ve learned — from the role of data and analytics to creativity to contracts and budgeting — to the test in real-world situations and puts a bow on the university’s deep belief in graduating future decision-makers with experience. Students complete three to six internships while enrolled at the school, located just 30 miles east of New York, which draws professors who hold day jobs as artist managers, business managers and other industry roles. Members of the most recent graduating class are already working on tour with Tyler, The Creator, with Mint Talent Group and at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J.

Event: Lorde’s manager Alex Sarti, from Crush Management, and Jamie Kinelski, vp of creative for Kobalt, have spoken to students in recent months.

Contributors: Cathy Applefeld Olson, Thom Duffy, Richard Smirke

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 8, 2022, issue of Billboard.

Cydney Lee