Billboard Names Oneonta a “Top Music Business School”

John Mayer, NAMM trip, funk band performance collage

For the second year in a row, Billboard magazine has named SUNY Oneonta to its list of the nation’s “Top Music Business Schools.” Oneonta is one of 28 colleges and universities across the country featured in the music industry magazine’s April 25 issue.

“We’re delighted to once again be included in Billboard’s list of 'Top Music Business Schools' in the U.S.,” said music industry Lecturer Nancy Tarr. “SUNY Oneonta’s program offers students collaborative experiences like no other since it works like a microcosm of the music industry. Students work together as artists, producers, promoters and artist managers doing real work to create and market their product. This really sets our program apart.”

From Opera to Funk to Ableton Live

Music and music industry students learn and perform alongside faculty in ensembles spanning genres from opera to funk. Individual, advanced music lessons are also offered, including a new course in electronic and contemporary music composition, sound design and performance that challenges students to develop and perform original material using MIDI controllers, Ableton control surfaces and instruments.

“The one-on-one Ableton lessons are an extremely valuable tool for any student who is serious about improving their production skills,” said Jeremy Wise, a music industry major from Gilbertsville, N.Y.

Recent Grammy Award Nominees
2019: Songwriter Scott Harris ’06, who wrote the hit song “In My Blood” with singer Shawn Mendes
2020: Michael Holober ’79, internationally acclaimed jazz composer, arranger, pianist and bandleader

Networking at Bonnaroo and NAMM

SUNY Oneonta music industry majors get a taste of the business with field experiences such as interning at the Bonnaroo music and arts festival, participating in THE HUBB networking event organized by the Creative Artists Agency, and attending The NAMM Show, an annual trade show in Los Angeles that brings together leaders of the music products, pro audio and event technology industries for four days of networking, learning and live music.

A highlight for the 40 students who went to NAMM this year, accompanied by Tarr, was seeing five-time Grammy Award-winning musician/producer Finneas O’Connell talk about what it was like recording a hit album with his sister, superstar Billie Eilish.

 “Getting to hear from Finneas O'Connell who just won producer of the year, yet attended NAMM as a student for four years just a few years back, really helped to push me toward my own end goal, which is to become a label executive,” said Temima Shames, a senior from Deer Park, NY.

Students develop professional skills in booking, publicity, financial management and record production as members of the student-run Music Industry Club, which also organized a daylong music industry conference for the first time this year.

Alumni Connections - and a Surprise Chat With John Mayer

Oneonta students learn from visiting guest speakers such as Jack McMorrow from Atlantic Records and Dae Bogan, SVP of Global Music Rights at Jammber.

More recently, during the COVID-19 quarantine, students were treated to a video chat with singer/songwriter John Mayer that was organized by Rit Venerus ’93, founder and president of Cal Financial. Mayer gave the students advice and insight into the industry and even made up a jingle about SUNY Oneonta on the spot. Thanks to Venerus, music industry students also had the opportunity to meet with Dave Matthews in person and got a behind-the-scenes tour of a Dave Matthews Band concert in 2018.

“We encourage students to pursue highly individualized career paths ranging from executive management to creative and technical services to entrepreneurial musicianship,” said Joe Pignato, professor of music and music industry. “That diversity of possibilities is reflected in our outstanding alumni, many of whom maintain close ties with the program, returning regularly to mentor students and share their experiences.”

Alumni who have connected with students include Emilia Albarano ’16 from Columbia Artists Agency; Eric Lense ’07, vice president of creative operations at SESAC; and Scott Harris Friedman ’06, a multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated (“In My Blood,” Song of the Year) songwriter, producer and musician.

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