Spotlight on Music Business

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Music Business Students Shine at University of Miami Frost School of Music

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Associate professor and respected entertainment attorney Serona Elton, right, in the 'Canes Records office with Jessie Allen, B.M., '10, left, a recent graduate of the Music Business and Entertainment Industries program. Allen now works as a project coordinator at The Grammys, Florida Chapter.

In a 2014 issue of Billboard magazine, the University of Miami Frost School of Music was named as having one of the top music business programs in the United States.

Graduates of the Frost Music Business and Entertainment Industries program are highly skilled executives who hold professional positions in all the major music companies, including record labels, music publishing, digital music, retail and service providers, music organizations, music licensing, artist management, live entertainment, and more.

Frost Associate Professor and Music Media & Industry Chair, Serona Elton (M.M. ’95) says, “The way we differentiate ourselves from other schools is the history of our program, the strength of our alumni numbers, and the fact that our faculty is extremely active at the highest levels in the music business.” Elton’s background includes work with such firms as EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner Music Group.

Emma Marzen is a MBEI undergraduate and voice principal who enjoys the inclusive environment of the program with others in the Frost School. “We study business AND perform music with peers of a similar caliber of musicianship. We‘re all looking out for each other, trying to make the industry a better place to work, grow, and thrive.” Marzen completed summer internships in New York at The Orchard and Lincoln Center, and is manager of UM’s Gusman Concert Hall. “Employers in the music industry definitely take a closer look at your resume when it includes a business degree from a prestigious music school such as Frost.”

Elton describes the MBEI student as one who is “passionate about music and an avid music consumer, yet interested in a career in music other than performing or teaching.”

The Frost School offers the Bachelor of Music degree as both a major and a minor in Music Business and Entertainment Industries. The program’s Master of Music degree is offered on campus and through Frost Online. Launched in 2014, the online program covers the same core course content as its on-campus counterpart, but without the audition and performance component.

In 2010, UM established the first Juris Doctorate/Master of Music degree jointly offered through the School of Law and the Frost School of Music. Based on the J.D./M.B.A. model, the three year J.D./M.M. degree program is designed for students specifically interested in entertainment law who designate a combined Music Business program, and are accepted to both the UM School of Law and the Frost School of Music.

Professor Elton, who earned her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School (2000) and is a member of the New York Bar and Florida Bar, helped UM create the joint degree program. “Entertainment law is a very competitive field,” she explains “What makes our J.D./M.M. degree unique is that students learn how the legalese paragraph of a music contract translates into actual business activity. Our graduates are more attractive to music companies because they understand the vocabulary, how the music business works at its core, who does what, and the business models.”

Brian Oliver (J.D./M.M. ’15) works at a Miami Beach entertainment law firm. He feels that his unique degree concentration opened the door for him there. “Since a lot of the music industry is contract or copyright based, the joint program at UM is a natural collaboration between the two schools. In order to practice within the industry, you need to know how the business works.” Oliver is the 2015 recipient of the GRAMMY Foundation’s 17th Annual Entertainment Law Initiative Award for his winning essay encouraging courts to reconsider the way they award statutory damages in connection with digital musical albums.

There are numerous opportunities at the University of Miami for MBEI students to get their careers started. It begins with close connections forged between Frost faculty and students, the current and future leaders in today’s music business. Hands-on learning is offered through internships, master classes, networking with industry professionals and legal practitioners, and on-campus positions with WVUM Radio, UMTV, the Miami Hurricane newspaper, and Grammy U.

Involvement in UM’s student-run record label, publishing company, and concert booking and Music Industry Association organizations also help build marketable skills for young entrepreneurs.

This story was written by Wendy Rees, a music industry publicist, writer and editor who currently serves as a communications consultant to the Frost School of Music.

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