KENNESAW, Ga. – Billboard magazine just named Kennesaw State’s Music and Entertainment Business School among the “best” in the world. It is a familiar recognition to 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 attend a class like it’s 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.
“I call them real-world professionals,” said Keith Perissi, the program’s director, “everybody that’s here is in the business.”
Keith Perissi, Director of the Joel A. Katz Music & Entertainment Business (MEBUS) Program at Kennesaw State University. (FOX 5 Atlanta)
Perissi is a musician himself. He said he created the program with an emphasis on students learning from those working in the industry.
“It’s everything to me,” Perissi said, “When I was his age, these are the kinds of people I would have liked to meet on my journey.”
One of the students in the program, Kyla Young, is on a unique journey here.
She wants to start her own aerobatics business when she graduates next year, so she said she’s here to learn to be an entertainer.
“What I really gained is that confidence in being a performer, that knowledge of how to develop an event or anything that has to do with entertainment from the ground up,” Young said.
It is certainly in a great place to do so.
Billboard magazine’s ranking of the school places it among the best schools in the world for the fourth year in a row, adding high-profile prestige to Kennesaw State.
“For us, it’s amazing because we’re such a young program to be named with all these other great programs,” Perissi said. “Anybody can walk into this building and be successful. 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 has been 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 major donor, our inspiration,” Perissi said. “It’s opened doors for us that most students wouldn’t have access to.”
Katz has crowned more recording superstars than anyone else in the industry, and through his philanthropy and involvement, he’s grooming the next generation.
“We’re all artists,” said Chris Sinclair, a junior in the program. “We all like music or film or theater. And we’re all interested in the entertainment industry. And we all create together. Everyone is very creative. And it’s like a big family.”
Perhaps this is the secret of their success.
Billboard’s recognition remains a major milestone for the still-rather-new show.
“That’s kind of the spirit of our program, whether it’s in front of the camera, or in a mixing studio, or if you’re in the business, once you get that opportunity, it’s yours to succeed,” Perissi said.