Two HBCUs named among world’s top music business schools

Howard University and Tennessee State University in Nashville made Billboard’s prestigious list of the best schools for music business degrees.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior
National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Howard University, the renowned historically Black college in Northwest, D.C., finds itself in esteemed company alongside institutions such as the Abbey Road Institute in London, the Berklee College of Music in Boston and Spain, and the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in Liverpool, England.

These distinguished higher education establishments have earned a spot on Billboard’s prestigious list of the best schools for music business degrees.

Billboard’s selection process, which refrains from ranking the institutions, is based on a comprehensive evaluation that includes executive recommendations, alum feedback, information furnished by each school, and a decade’s worth of reporting on music business programs. Publishers said the decision not to rank the schools stems from Billboard’s acknowledgment of widespread criticism surrounding conventional college ranking practices.

American University, also located in Northwest, D.C., secured its place on the list, emphasizing Washington’s significance in music education.

Of note, Howard University is one of only two historically Black colleges and universities recognized on the list, the other being Tennessee State University in Nashville. Howard’s remarkable achievement is underpinned by the establishment of the Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business in 2021, made possible by a generous $4.9 million donation. 

Billboard highlights the center’s one-year fellowship program, which offers invaluable coaching, mentorship, and real-world industry exposure through collaborations with partner organizations. The program is specifically designed to combat the underrepresentation of Black executives and professionals within the music and entertainment sectors.

According to Billboard, one of Howard’s standout offerings is the course “The History of the American Music Industry: What Isn’t Black Music.” This unique perspective aims to give students a comprehensive understanding of the industry’s roots and evolution.

Billboard’s methodology emphasizes more accessible public colleges and universities, focusing beyond the traditional music capitals of New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. The publication underscores that attendees of these top music business schools are primed for success in an increasingly intricate music industry landscape.

“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,” the Billboard publishers explained. Notably, the publishers said students could find robust curricula in cities such as Philadelphia, Memphis, and New Orleans, as well as in Syracuse, N.Y.; Kennesaw, Ga.; Stillwater, Okla.; and Cleveland, Miss.

This extensive list encompasses the Valencia, Spain, campus of Boston’s renowned Berklee College of Music, the esteemed BRIT School located outside London, LIPA, and the BIMM Institute, the largest provider of contemporary music education in Europe.

“By any measure, 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,” Billboard affirmed, while also solidifying Howard University’s place among the foremost institutions in the field of music business education.


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