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MTSU’s back on Billboard’s top music business scho...

MTSU’s back on Billboard’s top music business schools list for 8th year

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry — and the College of Media and Entertainment that houses it — are marking an eighth year on Billboard‘s latest international list of top music business schools, once again earning acclaim for the program’s diversity, depth and longevity.

Billboard logo 2022

In the article “Billboard’s 2022 Top Music Business Schools Revealed,” the magazine also says “opportunities abound” for students’ professional development, thanks to participation in events like Bonnaroo and the CMA Music Festival; the presence of an active on-campus music venue, the Chris Young Cafe; and the student-run record label, Match Records.

MTSU’s been on Billboard’s best music business schools lists since 2013, receiving recognition that first year for the recording industry program’s entrepreneurial turn. The magazine has published seven such lists since then, plus this year’s; it skipped a 2015 compilation and didn’t publish one for 2021 because of the pandemic.

“I am delighted that MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry has once again made the Billboard list of the top music business schools worldwide,” said Beverly Keel, media college dean and a former recording industry department chair. “This accomplishment is an achievement for our dedicated faculty and staff.

Beverly Keel, dean, College of Media and Entertainment
Beverly Keel

“This has been a tremendous year for our recording industry students, from participating in Grammy Week festivities to working a stage at Bonnaroo. Our alumni, who include Chris Young, Mitchell Tenpenny, Hardy, Hillary Scott of Lady A and so many others, are also enjoying a great year, and we are so proud of all that they do.

“We’re in the midst of another groundbreaking year, so there will be more exciting news coming soon.”

Its alphabetical listing of 38 schools in the Oct. 8 print and Oct. 11 online editions also adds newcomer and Nashville neighbor Fisk University, the first historically Black college or university to join the Music Business Association’s academic partnership program.

Fisk appears alongside long-recognized programs at Berklee College of Music, New York University and the University of California Los Angeles, Nashville’s Belmont University and Rhodes College’s Mike Curb Institute for Music in Memphis, plus four newly added British institutions.

The Billboard article is available online here; a PDF version is available here.

MTSU junior Eric Geter, left, of Powder Springs, Ga., and senior Brady Armstrong, right, of Edenton, N.C., both audio production majors, listen as junior music business major Marissa Powers of Louisville, Ky., and sophomore computer science and audio production major Michelle Greene of Nashville play a little music together between classes in the Department of Recording Industry's new Songwriting Center. The center, located five blocks east of campus at 508 E. Bell St., is holding classes now and plans a spring 2023 grand opening. The department's continuing growth and student success led Billboard to include it for the eighth consecutive time on the publication's newly released 2022 international list of top music business schools. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)
MTSU junior Eric Geter, left, of Powder Springs, Ga., and senior Brady Armstrong, right, of Edenton, N.C., both audio production majors, listen as junior music business major Marissa Powers of Louisville, Ky., and sophomore computer science and audio production major Michelle Greene of Nashville play a little music together between classes in the Department of Recording Industry’s new Songwriting Center. The center, located five blocks east of campus at 508 E. Bell St., is holding classes now and plans a spring 2023 grand opening. The department’s continuing growth and student success led Billboard to include it for the eighth consecutive time on the publication’s newly released 2022 international list of top music business schools. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

49 years of real-world prep for students

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry was founded in 1973, opened its first campus recording studio in 1980 and was the first program in the country to release a fully student-created CD in 1985. It also collaborates with MTSU’s School of Music on a “music industry” minor for students in music-industry entrepreneurship or recording industry.  

Recording industry undergrads at MTSU can focus on audio production, commercial songwriting or music business. The Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies degree prepares MTSU students for advanced work in audio production, recording and integrated electronic media.  

Memphis native and Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer BryTavious “Tay Keith” Chambers, 25, turns up the volume to one of his produced tracks Wednesday, Sept. 29, on the campus of his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University, during a special “sneak-peek” visit to the MTSU Department of Recording Industry’s new studios on campus. Listening behind him are a group of MTSU students and university president Sidney A. McPhee. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
Memphis native and Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer BryTavious “Tay Keith” Chambers, an MTSU grad, turns up the volume on one of his produced tracks in the new Studio D at MTSU during a special September 2021 “sneak-peek” visit to the Department of Recording Industry’s new East Main Street facility. Listening behind him are a group of MTSU students and university president Sidney A. McPhee. The department’s continuing growth and student success led Billboard to include it for the eighth consecutive time on the publication’s newly released 2022 international list of top music business schools. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

The department opened its new Studios D and E a year ago, giving students nearly 5,000 square feet and $2 million worth of customized, expandable space. The new Songwriting Center, located five blocks east of campus, is holding classes now and plans a spring 2023 grand opening.

NBC News began calling MTSU a “Grammy-winner factory” in 2019 in the wake of alumni, students’ and staffers’ multiple nominations and wins from the industry’s top honor.

MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 134 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades. The number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 currently stands at 15 with a total of 37 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel.

Department of Recording Industry logo

MTSU students, alumni and faculty also have been a consistent force in network TV music competitions, including “American Idol” and “The Voice,” since the shows began more than 20 years ago.  

Hunter Wolkonowski of Winchester, Tennessee, a music business graduate who performs under her stage name “HunterGirl,” is MTSU’s most successful “American Idol” competitor so far with her No. 2 finish in May.

To learn more about the Department of Recording Industry at MTSU and its programs, visit https://mtsu.edu/recording-industry. For more information on the College of Media and Entertainment and its programs, visit www.mtsu.edu/media.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU student Hannah Humphress, a Knoxville, Tenn., senior majoring in audio production, adjusts the sound levels on a digital mixing console in the university’s new Chris Young Cafe while Chase Cimala, a sophomore commercial songwriting major from Somerset, Ky., sings Young’s song “Who I Am With You” onstage in this January 2021 file photo. The two were part of a special livestreamed grand opening at the new facility, named for multiplatinum country entertainer and Murfreesboro, Tenn., native Chris Young, a former MTSU student. Young donated $50,000 to help renovate the 1963-era cafeteria into a teaching and rehearsal space and performance venue for the College of Media and Entertainment’s Department of Recording Industry. The department’s continuing growth and student success led Billboard to include it for the eighth consecutive time on the publication’s newly released 2022 international list of top music business schools. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)
Dani Gillis, center, of Gibsonia, Pa., a junior audio production major in MTSU's Department of Recording Industry, listens closely to a snippet of a "Studio Saturdays" recording session with members of the School of Music's Commercial Music Ensemble at the mixing console in Studio D in the brand-new Main Street Studios facility. Standing behind her are Samuel Roth, left, a senior audio production major from Farmington Hills, Mich., and Tanner Alguire, a junior audio production major from Cleveland, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
Dani Gillis, center, of Gibsonia, Pa., a junior audio production major in MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, listens closely to a snippet of a “Studio Saturdays” recording session with members of the School of Music’s Commercial Music Ensemble at the mixing console in Studio D in the new Main Street Studios facility in this November 2021 file photo. Standing behind her are Samuel Roth, left, a senior audio production major from Farmington Hills, Mich., and Tanner Alguire, a junior audio production major from Cleveland, Tenn. The department’s continuing growth and student success led Billboard to include it for the eighth consecutive time on the publication’s newly released 2022 international list of top music business schools. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

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