Billboard names KSU’s music and entertainment business program among ‘finest’ in world

Billboard magazine recently named Kennesaw State’s Music and Entertainment Business program one of the “best” programs in the world. For a program that has won four straight years, it’s a familiar sight.

It’s the kind of place where high-profile entertainers like Zac Brown’s John Driskell Hopkins can casually walk into class like it’s nothing.

Students at the Joel Katz School of Music and Entertainment Business on KSU’s campus know they are the next generation of leaders in the entertainment industry.

“I call them real-world interns,” says program director Keith Perissi, “everyone here is in the business.”

Keith Perissi, director of the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business (MEBUS) Program at Kennesaw State University. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

Perissi himself is a musician. He said the program focused on students learning from people working in the industry.

“To me, that’s everything,” Perissi says, “when I was their age, these people would have wanted to know about my journey.”

Kayla Young, one of the program’s students, is here on a unique journey of her own.

He said he came here to learn how to become an entertainer because he wants to start his own aerobatics business when he graduates next year.

“What I really gained was the confidence to be a performer and the knowledge of how to develop an event or do anything entertainment-related from the ground up,” Young said.

He’s undeniably in a great place to do it.

For the fourth consecutive year, the school has been ranked among the top schools in the world by Billboard magazine, giving it a high profile in Kennesaw County.

“For us, it’s really cool because we’re such a young program that we’re going to be called by all these other great programs,” Perissi said. “Anybody can walk into this space and be successful. We’re like the United Nations of the entertainment business.”

Speaking of building entrances, you’ll find walls lined with memorabilia from titans of the industry. From Michael Jackson’s artwork to too many platinum records, everything was donated by Joel Katz. He was the legendary attorney for many of these stars.

“Joel Katz means everything to this place. He’s our namesake, our major donor, our inspiration,” Perissi said. “He opened doors for us that most students couldn’t get through.”

Katz has crowned more recording stars than anyone in the industry and is nurturing the next generation through his philanthropy and involvement.

“We’re all artists,” said Chris Sinclair, a junior in the program. “We all love music, movies or theater. And we’re all interested in the entertainment industry. And we all create together. We’re all really creative. It’s like one big family.”

Perhaps this is the secret of his success.

Billboar’s recognition is still an important milestone for a fairly new program.

“That’s kind of the spirit of our show, whether it’s on camera or in the studio mixing, or if you’re in business, once you get that opportunity, it’s yours to succeed and be successful,” Perissi said.

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