BW Welcomes Inaugural Music Industry Class

Posted February 17, 2020 | by Conservatory | Academics
BW's inaugural music industry majors
Amongst the many changes on campus this fall, one welcome addition has been the official launch of the new Music Industry major at BW. Students from across Ohio enrolled in the new program, hoping to make their mark in this multi-faceted sector, which represents 1.9 million American jobs and adds $143 billion to the U.S. economy.*

Building on success

BW has been preparing students for careers in music business for over 40 years through its Arts Management program, most recently as part of the Arts Management & Entrepreneurship major and minor. “Adding the bachelor of arts music industry major was a natural next step for us,” said Bryan Bowser, the department chair of interdisciplinary studies at the BW Conservatory of Music.

To that end, BW was recently recognized as a Top Music Business School for 2020 by Billboard, citing the program’s innovative courses, industry connections, and alumni success. “It felt great to see BW listed amongst the very top programs in the nation,” said Sean Murphy, assistant professor and Music Industry area coordinator. “We are hopeful this distinction will attract students from across the country to BW,” added Murphy.

A final step in this process has been the creation of the Music Industry minor, which was approved at the conclusion of the Fall 2020 semester. This new credential will serve as an additional way for students across the university to engage with music industry coursework and surrounding experiences.

A world-wide industry

The global switch to video conferencing has enabled the Music Industry program to expand its geographical reach for guest speakers. Although Cleveland is celebrated for its vibrant arts economy, the majority of the music business remains concentrated in New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles. Recently John Hughes, Senior Vice President for Fan Engagement at Rhino Records, was able to join the Music Industry I class from his LA home office.

Current arts management major Jess DeLap ‘21, has benefited from this change first hand. “Zooming our speakers has been really successful, because it has allowed us to meet professionals from all parts of the country, near and far. We are still able to ask questions directly and learn how everyone is handling working remotely during this time,” said DeLap.

Guest faculty add expertise

The new degree program has also facilitated the growth of special topics courses, in which professionals from the field act as guest faculty for a selected class. The newest of these courses, Music Industry Trends and Practices, was taught by Alternative Press Magazine CEO and Founder Mike Shea this fall. Shea’s industry contacts are immense and have facilitated a plethora of outstanding career connections for students in his course. Brigitte Wright, (former manager for Rage Against the Machine) John Feldman, (producer for Blink-182 ) and Telle Smith (lead singer for The World Alive) have all been able to serve as speakers for Shea’s course.

“The special topics courses have been one of the highlights of my time at BW,” said Alivia Leyland ‘22, a student in Shea’s class. “Learning from a teacher who has been in the industry for so many years, I look forward to this class every week and I genuinely enjoy putting in work for it,” added Leyland. For Shea, the feeling is mutual. “I’ve been so impressed by the student’s level of interest. They ask smart questions and are really engaged. I definitely see a great future in the music business for these students.”

New minor in music industry

* Impact of the music industry, according to The Recording Industry Association of America.

Written by Sean Murphy, Assistant Professor of Arts Management & Entrepreneurship.

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