Propel Center, in commemoration of Black Music Month, joined with five of Propel’s institutional partners to successfully launch the first of the three-part C3 Series, an executive music industry pipeline program to promote music entrepreneurship in tech.

The accelerator series, the acronym of which stands for Create, Collaborate and Connect, will work to increase the leadership pipeline in today’s music industry for HBCU students and young people of color with the aim of fulfilling these three ambitions by providing participants with an all-access pass to learn directly from some of the music industry’s greatest minds, executives and tastemakers.

The limited C3 Series will run through March 2023, with the program mission to ensure that the pipeline of diverse leadership reaches and includes HBCU talent, while fast-tracking the next generation of executive leaders in music marketing, music public relations, tech and production. The inaugural participants, which included more than 60 students convened in master classes hosted at Clark Atlanta University, hailed from Bethune-Cookman University, Jackson State University, Clark Atlanta University, Edward Waters University and Bishop State Community College.

As part of C3’s project-based, learning focused curriculum, each of the students were tasked with presenting a potential new artist to the consumer market by curating the needed music assets, and then working to implement a tailored marking and communications campaign. The program, funded by the Industry Impact Grants made available to eligible Propel Center HBCU member institutions, is co-facilitated by respected executives, Steve Higgs, COO, Preach Records/Ingrooves and head of A&R, and Cortez Bryant, co-CEO of the management firm Blueprint Group and adjunct professor at his alma mater, Jackson State University. 

Guest speakers for the Black Music Month master class roll-out included Bryant and Higgs, Shawn Gee, partner/president at Live Nation Urban, Gee Roberson, co-CEO at Blueprint Group, Tuo Clark, SVP of A&R at Def Jam, Josh Raiford of Pandora/Sirius XM, Grammy Award-Winning producer Drummaboy, Dominique Simpson, CEO of CMPR, Inc. and music-producer Fresh Ayr.

“The new C3 Series program is just another example of the innovative, empowering work that’s happening at Propel,” said Dr. Charles J. Gibbs, president, Propel Center HBCU Consortium. “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,” he added.

“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.”

“The Bethune-Cookman University Music Mogul project created at C3 with the Propel grant is proving to be a successful experiential learning program for our students who are participating in this unique pilot project,” stated professor Sylvester Polk of BCU. “Our students are enjoying their experience and the wealth of knowledge that is being provided to them,” he continued. “They had a rare chance to experience real-world industry operations, were in recording studios and attended master classes with seasoned industry professionals. This has been a necessary and vital complement to what we are doing in the classroom.”

“There is a real need for developmental programs within the music business. I’m so thankful that Propel stepped up to the plate to lend the resources to attack that problem,” emphasized industry partner Cortez Bryant. Concluded fellow industry partner Steve Higgs: “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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