Friday, March 19, 2010

Leadership Music offers insider's look at industry

Established entertainment industry leaders curious about more tricks of the trade are invited to broaden their music business knowledge through participation in Leadership Music classes — they just have to fill out an application and submit it for approval first.
Applications are due by March 26 for the program, which takes an insider's look at the different micro-businesses or professions that drive the entertainment industry. (Those applications are available for download at

"Our goal each year is to bring a class together that is representative of all facets of the music industry, put them together and instill a deeper understanding in the leaders of the industry," said board member and alumni Caroline Davis. "They have different backgrounds, different focuses and different main concerns." (Selection, Davis said, is based on merit and not driven by entry fees.)

Founded in 1989, Leadership Music is a nonprofit educational organization that has filtered more than 700 students through its program at a rate of about 50 participants at a time. Over the course of nine months, applicants are expected to attend six 12-hour classes and two weekend retreats.

"It's a time commitment and an open mind commitment," Davis said. "You may be head of a record label and certainly be recognized and acknowledged as a leader in the industry, but you may not know what the current concerns are of someone who runs a studio. ... You may know a lot about the industry, but you are interacting closely with people who are coming from different segments and hearing on the ground floor what is essential to them. We want people to learn about all these things."

Each class focuses on a different field in the music business, and students are seldom confined to seats. At 7 a.m. one Friday a month, participants are likely to file onto a bus and be transported to various locations around Nashville — the destination might be a recording studio, a publishing company, touring service or music distributor. While there, students might take in panel discussions, artist performances or a keynote speech. When it's over, they're off to lunch and then potentially another two stops before calling it a day.

And each year, the program is a little bit different. The most recent class of graduates is responsible for the curriculum for the new group of industry leaders.

"That's pretty exciting," Davis said. "The architecture of the program hasn't really changed since that first class, but by getting recent graduates it keeps it fresh."

Jeff Gregg, a talent agent at Creative Artist Agency, went through Leadership Music in 2003. And while he's been in the music business for more than two decades, he said he realized he still had plenty to learn.

"It was just bearing down on the details," Gregg said. "There was a takeaway from every single day, and each time I learned something. I've stayed active by volunteering. It's a great way to meet new people. It's a great forum on many aspects."

Reach Cindy Watts at 615-664-2227 or

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