Guest columnist Sean Murphy, DMA, is a Baldwin Wallace University assistant professor of arts management & entrepreneurship. He also serves as the area coordinator for BW’s music industry program.
For decades, Cleveland has been known as the home of rock ‘n’ roll. Today, Baldwin Wallace University’s music industry major is building on this point of civic pride, being named to Billboard Magazine’s list of “Top Music Business Schools” in the country.
Baldwin Wallace is also the only school in this region and one of 22 universities in the world to be named an educational affiliate of the GRAMMY Museum. The affiliate designation gives BW students and faculty outstanding access to renowned resources and experts in the field, including museum content, educational seminars and music historians and professionals to use as campus speakers.
But it’s the strong collaboration with the local region’s music industry “rock stars” that fuels the new music industry program.
Cleveland’s strength as an arts city is well documented. Southern Methodist University’s 2020 study on “Most Vibrant Arts Cities in America” identified Cuyahoga County as ranking in the top 95 percent of “Arts Providers,” 95 percent of “Government Support,” 99 percent of “Arts Dollars” and 97 percent of “Other Leisure Activities” nationwide.
The major players in Cleveland’s music industry — including Live Nation, AEG, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and numerous independent concert venues — play a key role in supporting “The CLE” as a destination city for the arts.
The success of BW’s music industry degree, and its complementary program in arts management & entrepreneurship, is buoyed by the organizations in the regional music scene, which provide internship opportunities, hands-on partner projects and guest speakers to inspire students.
For example, BW students gained real-world experience working with Cindy Barber and the Beachland Ballroom to promote the venue’s 20th anniversary, as well as with the Agora Theater on a similar marketing initiative.
Even through the pandemic, students were able to virtually partner with Gabe Pollack and the BOP STOP to book, market and live-stream a concert with local jazz group Nathan-Paul & The Admirables.
In some cases, local music leaders take on entire courses. Alternative Press magazine founder Mike Shea, for example, teaches a course on trends in the music industry, bringing 35 years of industry experience to the classroom.
Finally, while BW’s music industry major is new, BW graduates have been making an impact in the music business for many years. They are happy to give back by helping to educate future pros. These include numerous BW alumni who work at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and entrepreneurs who are adding to the city’s vibrant music scene.
Far-flung BW alumni at major national music sector organizations also add to the student experience, such as 2012 graduate Ben Meadors, who manages post-production technologies at Spotify, and 1994 grad Hallie Yavitch, who oversees concert and other bookings at The Staples Center in Los Angeles.
They, too, are guests in the classroom and serve as valuable members of the BW career network. In fact, Yavitch was instrumental in helping BW win the GRAMMY Museum affiliation.
As they contribute to the experiences of the next generation of music industry leaders, the generosity of so many successful professionals with roots in Northeast Ohio proves, once again, that Cleveland still rocks.
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