Rhodes College Featured Among Billboard’s “2022 Top Music Business Schools”

image of a Curb Institute recording session
Dr. John Bass (front) with Curb Fellows in a recording session (photo by Curb Fellow Jackson Hendrix ’24)

Rhodes College is featured as one of Billboard magazine’s “2022 Top Music Business Schools” for its Mike Curb Institute for Music, according to the online Oct. 11 announcement. This is not the college’s first appearance on this world stage, having also made the roster in 2020. Billboard did not release a list in 2021.
Billboard chose only 38 programs based on factors including industry recommendations, alumni information provided by honorees from multiple power lists, and information requested from each school. The programs are featured alphabetically.
Billboard’s staff wrote about Rhodes: “The historically rich and artistically vibrant city of Memphis is woven into the experience of all students at Rhodes College’s Mike Curb Institute for Music . . . The institute also immerses students in the industry at large. In 2019, a group of Curb fellows traveled to New York to meet with executives ranging from attorneys who negotiate label deals to brand relationship marketers to PR talent to journalists covering the industry. Deeply rooted in Rhodes’ broader liberal arts focus, the institute aims to produce graduates who not only know how to work in the industry but also how to think broadly about the world.”

“The recognition we’ve gotten from Billboard is an honor and reinforces our model of learning and how we are finding a different mechanism for music industry-based education though the liberal arts,” says Dr. John Bass, associate professor of music and director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes.

The Curb Institute was founded in 2006 through a generous gift from the Mike Curb Family Foundation to foster awareness and understanding of the distinct musical traditions of the South and to study the effect music has had on its culture, history, and economy.  Students learn the inner workings of the music business—from sound editing and video production to marketing and community engagement—as they prepare to become the next generation of leaders.

The Audio Engineering course takes students out of the Curb Institute’s recording room to Memphis’ historic studios, including Ardent Studios, whose artists have included Isaac Hayes, Led Zeppelin, the Staples Singers, and Bob Dylan, and Royal Studios, where Al Green, Ann Peebles, John Mayer, and Bruno Mars recorded hits.

Blues Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winner Bobby Rush, who was named the inaugural Curb Visiting Scholar in the Arts in 2014 and awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the college in 2021, partnered with the Curb Institute on a recording of an original blues version of “America the Beautiful” at Royal Studios.

Curb fellows are comfortable working as members of teams, processing feedback, and making connections with recording artists, producers, concert promoters, engineers, songwriters, and copyright and trademark attorneys. 

“The thing that we stress is the importance of working together,” says Bass.

image of performers on stage at a concert at Rhodes College
On-campus music festival Respect Fest produced by Curb Fellows

In the profile about Rhodes, Billboard also mentions the Audubon Sessions, which is a student-produced concert series held at 1034 Audubon Drive, Elvis Presley’s first purchased home in Memphis. The Mike Curb Family Foundation bought the house and established it as part of the Curb Institute. Curb fellows also produce the on-campus music festival Respect Fest and the Beyond Beale podcast and Dredge zine, which spotlight the Memphis music scene.
Through the Curb Institute, students have obtained the experience and credentials to benefit them as they make the transition from college to graduate school or the professional world in a variety of fields.

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