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Propel Center Announces Launch of New Program Dedicated to Getting HBCU Students in Top Music Industry Positions

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HBCU epicenter Propel Center recently announced the launch of a new program dedicated to getting HBCU students into entrepreneurship in the music industry.

In honor of Black Music Appreciation Month, the first set of students were given a chance to take part in the new “C3 series.” As part of the program, over 60 students from HBCUs, such as Clark Atlanta University, Edward Waters University and Jackson State University, were assigned a hypothetical artist to pitch to the consumers by coming up with a full marketing campaign, according to the press release. 

The students were also given the opportunity to meet with guest speakers like the president of Live Nation Urban, Shawn Gee, Josh Raiford from Sirius XM, producer Drummaboy and producer Fresh Ayr amongst others.

Overall, the program’s main mission is to help prepare HBCU students for leadership roles in the music industry by using tips from current music industry leaders. Running until March 2023, the series teaches participants how to “Create, Collaborate and Connect” through classes and activities to ensure that the next generation of HBCU students will go on to diversify fields, such as music marketing, tech, production and public relations, in the music industry, according to the press release.

“As we look to continue to provide our students with a pathway to help shape the future of the music industry, it’s imperative that we expose them to the limitless executive opportunities beyond artist careers,” said the president of the Propel Center HBCU Consortium, Dr. Charles J. Gibbs, in a statement. 

“There are countless more possibilities—and a greater likelihood of achieving success—in the many roles that exist to display talent behind the scenes making things happen in music, and through this accelerator platform we’re training our students to be the best prepared and ready to step into those roles.”

While the music industry is diverse when it comes to the artists that make it on the charts, the officials that are in high positions in the industry are mainly white. According to the latest research by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the researchers found that, out of 119 companies, only 7.5% of the 4,060 executives surveyed in 2021 identified as Black. 

As they moved higher up the ranks, the researchers found that the numbers seemed to decrease. Once they narrowed the sample size to positions like chief executives, chairmen and presidents across 70 music companies, they found that 86.1% of the people who held these positions were white and only 10 were people from BIPOC communities. 

Overall, Black women were the least represented as it was reported that, for each one Black woman in the music industry, there were 17.7 white male executives. 

“There is a real need for developmental programs within the music business,” said music manager Cortez Bryant in a statement. “This program is the solution to equity and inclusion in executives’ spaces within the music industry. HBCU students deserve innovative programs such as this, to ensure career readiness.”

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