Howard University will be adding a new music business center and fellowship after a donation from Warner Music Group and Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund. (Photo by Etolia Magdalena)

By Etolia Magdalena
Special to the AFRO

On March 1, Howard University announced that Warner Music Group and Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund gifted the University $4.9 million dollars to fund the creation of a new music business center. This will allow students to have a center dedicated to helping those interested in the management side of the music industry thrive. The center will also provide curriculum development, certification programs and internship opportunities for Howard’s students.

“Through the center we will prepare Howard students for management leadership positions and create a pipeline to help diversify all levels of this influential business. Our goal is to prepare students with the skills necessary to succeed, provide the networking opportunities to gain exposure to industry leaders and create long term impact in the entertainment board rooms,” Howard University’s School of Business Dean Anthony D. Wilbon said in a statement.

The new music center will be providing a one-year fellowship program to the highest qualified students, giving them the opportunity to work with music executives in the industry one on one as well as have an opportunity to have specialized courses. Events like fireside chats, panel lectures and case competitions will be held in the new center as well. All of this was made possible by Howard alum Julian Petty, the Fund Advisory Board member and Executive Vice President and Head of Business & Legal Affairs at Warner Records. 

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the uncovering of racial inequality, programs like Howard’s new business center and fellowship will help serve as a pipeline to add diversity in executive company positions. 

Warner Music group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s $100 million Social Justice Fund was established in the Summer of 2020 following the racial injustices that occurred sparking a revolution and awakening across the world. They want this fund to focus on reforming education, cultural and performing arts as well as criminal justice. “It will also serve as an important step forward in creating a better pipeline of Black executives in the music business, and I am confident that it will help nurture the next generation of industry leaders,” Petty said in a Howard University statement.

Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick expressed gratitude for the donation and emphasized the importance of the programming and efforts in today’s social climate.

“I’d like to thank the Warner Music Group and the Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund for this significant gift to launch the music business center at Howard University,” Frederick said. “The contributions of African-American artists to the music and entertainment business are significant, but people of color are still underrepresented on the management side of the industry.  

“This gift to the School of Business honors the historic legacy Black people have made in the industry while making a crucial investment in today’s students who will become the leaders of tomorrow,” President Frederick added.