Hitting the right note


  When Angie Caquias moved from Alabama to Georgia to attend college, she could not make up…

Georgia (Mar 6, 2012)


When Angie Caquias moved from Alabama to Georgia to attend college, she could not make up her mind between Georgia State and Kennesaw State. But as the aspiring entertainment attorney researched the music and entertainment industry, one name kept coming up in her Google searches: Joel A. Katz. In the end, she chose to attend KSU because of its Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program.

“This program sold me,” says Caquias, a Kennesaw State junior. “I know I want to be an entertainment lawyer but I had no idea how to accomplish that, until I found this program.”

KSU’s Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program is funded by one of the most prominent lawyers in the industry. With Atlanta’s vibrant music, film and entertainment business as backdrop, the program has flourished beyond expectations, attracting 123 students this year. As digital music, social media and the proliferation of cable channels transform the business, the program is opening the doors for students who want to learn the business side of entertainment but had nowhere to go.

“There is a huge need for talented, well-prepared professionals  in the growing music and entertainment business,” says Keith Perissi, associate director of the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program. “Some of the biggest opportunities are in marketing, management and accounting, and we are preparing future professionals for these and other jobs. Digital media is opening up a lot of opportunities.”

A partnership between the Coles College of Business and the College of the Arts, the certificate program is open to KSU undergrads of all majors. Program participants come from all disciplines, from music and dance to communication and accounting. The Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program offers courses such as “Emerging Trends of the Music and Entertainment Business” and has a strong focus on hands-on experience, practical application of classroom knowledge and networking.

Program participants are required to work as externs for a minimum of six hours a week during the semester or perform summer internships of 20 to 40 hours a week, working for various companies and bands such as Live Nation, Gospel Music Channel, Sony Nashville, PlayPro Media and the Zac Brown Band, among others. Classes attract a who’s-who of the entertainment industry as guest lecturers:  high-ranking executives from Atlanta-based companies such as TBS, Turner Classic Movies and Coca-Cola, as well as Ludacris’ business manager and the lead singer and bassist for rock band Third Day. And this semester, teams of students are working as managers and promoters for 10 new Atlanta artists for class credit in conjunction with Sony Nashville and PlayPro Media.

“Being in Atlanta is a big part of it,” says Perissi, who has more than 20 years of experience in the music and entertainment business. “Atlanta and the state of Georgia have become the fourth most important entertainment center in the U.S., behind New York, L.A. and Nashville. The music industry has thrived here for years, and now film and TV are booming due to the 30 percent tax incentives the state offers.”

The Joel A. Katz. Music and Entertainment Business Program was launched in fall 2010, when Katz, who has worked with entertainers such as Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Buffett and Michael Jackson, made an undisclosed donation to Kennesaw State. Last year, Katz came to campus. He gave a talk to program participants and regaled them with stories of how he got started by chance as a lawyer in the music and entertainment business –– his first client was James Brown  –– and how new digital technologies offer “myriad of opportunities” for students.

The program is poised for growth. KSU is creating a post-baccalaureate program where professionals with existing degrees can enroll in the current program, something like earning a teacher’s certificate.  Also, new classes on the business aspects of film, TV and videogames are in the works.

“Our job,” Perissi says, “is to train our students with relevant skills so that they can succeed in the music and entertainment industry.”

-- Aixa M. Pascual apascual@kennesaw.edu


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu