American, Howard U. make Billboard’s list of top music business schools

In order to prepare future music industry executives for an increasingly-complex business, Billboard has released a list of what it considers the best schools for music business degrees, and it includes Howard University and American University.

Billboard’s list is based on executive recommendations, alumni information, information requested from each school and its decade of reporting on music business programs.

The schools are not ranked. Billboard cites widespread criticism of college ranking practices for its decision not to rank them.

American University’s music business program was launched in 2013 at the Kogod School of Business under the direction of music industry veteran John Simson. Simson cofounded SoundExhange in 2003, the nonprofit responsible for distributing music royalties to recording artists.

Billboard said the school has made a name for itself in the music industry. Its alma maters include Rich Kepler, manager of The Killers, and Creative Artists Agency agent Zack Borson, a 2023 graduate who was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in Music list.

Billboard specifically cites “American’s Representing Talent: Agents, Managers & Lawyers” course, taught by Simson and former Sony vice president of marketing Stacy Merida.

Howard University is one of two historically Black colleges and universities on the list. The other is Tennessee State University in Nashville.

Howard’s The Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business was founded in 2021 through a $4.9 million gift. Billboard cites its one-year fellowship program, which provides coaching, mentorship and real life industry experience with partner organizations. Howard’s music industry program aims to address the underrepresentation of Black executives and professionals in the music and entertainment industries.

Billboard said among Howard’s noteworthy offerings is the class “The History of the American Music Industry: What Isn’t Black Music.”

Billboard’s list prioritizes more affordable public colleges and universities, and those beyond the music capitals of New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.

Check out the full list of 2023 Top Music Business Schools online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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