Music/tech entrepreneur creates MTSU recording ind...

Music/tech entrepreneur creates MTSU recording industry course

Nationally known music and tech entrepreneur Mark Montgomery has created a new class focusing on new music business models for Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Recording Industry.

Montgomery’s fall 2013 course, “The New Music Business,” will focus on the effect of the intertwining of music and technology on the music industry, as well as the challenges — and more importantly, opportunities — that marriage will create.

Nashville entrepreneur Mark Montgomery is teaching a new course at MTSU this fall, “The New Music Business,” where students will learn to combine music and technology into creative business plans. (Photo courtesy of Brooke Kelly Photography)

Montgomery, Nashville’s most well-known music and tech entrepreneur, has been working in digital and Web space since the early 1990s, when he launched one of the first five U.S. companies to sell music directly to consumers on the Internet. Over the past 15 years, he has worked with hundreds of entertainment and corporate clients, including Sony, Kanye West, Keith Urban, RIM/Blackberry, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam, Best Buy, Gnarls Barkley, Rascal Flatts and General Motors.

“I am excited to be teaching again,” Montgomery said. “My experience is that I will actually get far more out of the teacher-student relationships than will the students.

“I have no doubt that the next generation of young adults will be the architects of the new music business. They don’t know what ‘rules’ they are not supposed to be breaking. They are fresh, wide-eyed and not yet scarred or jaded.”

In Montgomery’s class, which meets every Wednesday evening beginning Aug. 28, students will examine past and present plans and create forecasts before building their own business plans. Plans with the most potential may be mentored and developed at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center.

“These kids will be not be taking anyone’s word for it,” Montgomery said. “They will be looking historically, analyzing patterns, drawing their own conclusions, looking for blue oceans and learning how to skate where the puck is going to be — and what to do about it when they get there.”

The idea for Montgomery’s course bloomed during the recent Leadership Nashville program. Montgomery and Beverly Keel, the new chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, are graduates of Leadership Nashville’s Class of 2013, and they began talking about the possibility of his involvement with MTSU this spring.

“Mark is an in-demand national expert on the music industry, technology and entrepreneurship, so I am thrilled that he is finding time in his schedule to share his insights with our students,” Keel said.

“Mark is a big-picture visionary, a business rebel and a straight shooter who is known from Music Row to Silicon Valley and beyond. I know this will be a class that our students will never forget.”

Intending to be a songwriter and musician, Montgomery brought a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to Nashville in 1990 but quickly found his way into music production, marketing and sales.

Click on the graphic above for more information about MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry.

In 1999, he co-founded echo, which managed the digital businesses of some of the biggest entertainers in the world. The founders sold echo to IAC/Ticketmaster in 2007, and after his exit in 2009, Montgomery began working as the entrepreneur-in-residence for Nashville-based Claritas Capital.

Montgomery also helped form the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, worked on the launch of the Music City Music Council and worked to grow the Nashville entrepreneurial ecosystem as an advocate, mentor and investor.

He is currently tackling projects for Google and YouTube and founded FLO {thinkery}, a cutting-edge think tank and investment firm focused on starting companies in the consumer space, in 2011. Still a songwriter and musician, Montgomery also serves as the CEO of country star Kenny Chesney’s spirits company, FishBowl Spirits.

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is one of the university’s signature departments and was featured in the Aug. 24 issue of Billboard’s annual look at music education.

The department is the only one of its kind in the nation to be housed in a college of mass communication. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree with concentrations in music business, audio production and commercial songwriting, as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in recording arts and technologies.

Four former MTSU students — Brett Eldridge, Chris Young, Eric Paslay and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott — recently had simultaneous songs on a recent Billboard Country Airplay chart. More than a dozen MTSU alumni/former students and faculty have been nominated for Grammy Awards in the last three years, and seven have won Grammys.

For more information on MTSU’s recording industry program, visit or contact Keel at