Breaking Boundaries in the Music Business: HT’s New Innovative Course Offering

Austin, long hailed as the Live Music Capital of the World, pulsates with a rhythm that echoes in the heart of every music lover. But for many aspiring music industry professionals, particularly people of color, gaining a foothold in this dynamic realm has proven to be a challenging feat. It’s a tale as old as time—a world teeming with diverse talent on the stage, yet starkly homogeneous behind the scenes.

However, the winds of change are blowing as Huston-Tillotson University, in partnership with Ogden and Phillip Payne of For The Students, introduces a groundbreaking Music Business Foundations certification program that’s set to transform the narrative and break boundaries for underrepresented individuals.

There are many ways to be involved in the music industry without being a musician.

At the core of this initiative lies the realization that one doesn’t need to be a musician to make a significant impact in the music industry. Dr. Rohan Thompson, Dean of Business and Technology at Huston-Tillotson University, pointed out that “70% of the people who work for C3 can’t play an instrument. There are many ways to be involved in the music industry without being a musician.” This statement alone challenges preconceived notions and opens doors for those who might have thought they needed to be performers to be part of the music business.

However, it’s not just about debunking myths; it’s also about inclusivity. Dr. Thompson emphasized that the program is for “all folks interested in the music industry,” with eligibility extending to adults aged 18 and older, regardless of their background. This inclusive approach ensures that this initiative not only becomes a catalyst for young students but also a beacon of hope for adults looking to pivot their careers into the vibrant music industry.

The response to this program has been overwhelmingly positive. Dr. Thompson exuded excitement when stating, “We’re really happy with how the community has accepted this program.” It’s evident that this initiative aligns perfectly with Austin’s cultural DNA. The Music Business Foundations certification program intends to foster an environment where the unique cultural fabric of Austin meets the music business, creating opportunities for aspiring professionals to thrive in a city renowned for its music culture.

We’re really happy with how the community has accepted this program.

To further enhance the program’s reach and impact, HT has secured partnerships with some of the most prominent players in the music industry. South by Southwest (SXSW), a global platform for groundbreaking creativity, has joined as a program partner, offering internship opportunities for program graduates. This collaboration presents a golden opportunity for students to work with industry pioneers, bridging the gap between education and real-world experience.

Another notable collaborator is C3 Presents, an Austin-based powerhouse known for curating top-tier music festivals. This partnership not only offers internship opportunities but also provides students with invaluable insights into festival production, booking, marketing, and the ever-evolving dynamics of the industry. C3 Presents has further demonstrated its commitment by providing financial support for the University’s music business certificate program, and they’re even offering scholarships to cover program costs.

Moody Center, one of the top music venues in America, has also joined the cause, offering students a behind-the-scenes tour. These partnerships highlight the commitment of local entities to nurturing the next generation of music business leaders.

Behind the scenes of this transformative initiative is For The Students (FTS), an education company that specializes in developing innovative programs for universities. FTS played a pivotal role in curriculum development for the Music Business Foundations certificate program, and they’ve tapped into the expertise of Philip Payne, a music manager extraordinaire with over a decade of experience and a treasure trove of gold and platinum records.

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Ogden Payne, Founder of For The Students, remarked, “We believe that partnering with SXSW will open even more remarkable opportunities for our program’s graduates, and we’re excited that students will now have even more potential employment avenues to take advantage of.”

Classes for the new six-week Music Business Foundations certificate program will be hosted in person every Wednesday at HT’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within Springdale General and began this month (October 25). The curriculum, designed and taught by working industry professionals, is available for just $500, with flexible payment plans starting as low as $100.

As Austin’s music industry continues to flourish, the Music Business Foundations certificate program at Huston-Tillotson University ensures that people from all backgrounds can contribute their unique talents and perspectives to this vibrant world. With visionary partnerships and an inclusive approach, this initiative not only offers education but empowers individuals to become architects of change in an industry that has long awaited a transformation.

In the words of Ogden Payne, it’s not just about Austin; it’s about taking this program to new universities across the nation, creating a ripple effect that will change the face of the music industry for generations to come. The journey begins with a single note, and thanks to this groundbreaking program, more voices will soon join in to create a symphony of diversity, innovation, and excellence in the music business.

To learn more about the program, including scholarship opportunities and additional courses being offered next spring, interested individuals can contact This program is not just a game-changer; it’s a history-maker, breaking barriers for people of color who have been historically underrepresented on the music business side.


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