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

Billboard magazine just named Kennesaw State’s Music and Entertainment program among the “best” in the world. It’s a familiar recognition for the program that has earned the distinction four years in a row.

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

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

“They call them real-world practitioners,” Keith Perissi, the program’s director, said: “Everyone who’s here is actually in the business.”

Perissi is a musician himself. He said he built the program with an emphasis on students learning from those who work in the industry.

“For me it’s everything,” Perissi said, “When I was his age, these are the types of people I would have liked to have met in my journey.”

One of the students in the program, Kyla Young, is on a unique journey of her own here.

She wants to start her own aerobatics business when she graduates next year, so she said she’s here to learn how to be an entertainer.

“What I’ve really gained is that confidence in being a performer, that knowledge about how to develop an event or anything to do with entertainment from the ground up,” Young said.

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It is undoubtedly in a great place to do this.

Billboard Magazine’s school ranking places it among the top schools in the world for the fourth consecutive year, adding high prestige to Kennesaw State.

“For us, it’s incredible because we’re such a young program to be named with all these other great programs,” Perissi said. “Anyone can walk into this building and succeed. We’re like the UN of the entertainment business.”

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

“Joel Katz means everything to this place. He is our namesake and the main donor, our inspiration,” said Perissi. “It opened doors for us that most students wouldn’t have access to.”

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Katz has crowned more recording superstars than anyone in the industry, and through his philanthropy and involvement, he is grooming its next generation.

“We’re all artists,” said Chris Sinclair, a junior in the program. “We all love music, or film or theater. And we are all interested in the entertainment industry. And we all create together. Everyone is really creative. And it’s kind of like a big family.”

Perhaps this is the secret of his success.

Billboard’s recognition remains an important milestone for the still fairly new program.

“That’s the spirit of our program, whether it’s on camera, or in a mixing studio, or in business, once you have that opportunity, it’s yours to take and succeed,” Perissi said.

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