SJGC Announces Music Industry Conference

Florida A&M’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC) has big plans for its new Institute of Hip-Hop and Music Industry Studies.

Starting with a music industry conference in November, SJGC hopes to make its newest division the premier educator in music business in the city and state. Organizers labeled the two-day event Creativity Education Opportunity (CEO), and they are branding it as the go-to conference for new artists, producers, journalists and others in music to build new contacts and learn about thriving in entertainment business.

Soul legend and former music mogul Al Bell has agreed to help build SJGC’s Hip-Hop Institute and cultivate the talents that FAMU expects to spring from this venture. Bell will be the keynote speaker at CEO in November.

“We’re going to be about the business of creating opportunity at FAMU,” Bell told reporters, school officials and students at Thursday’s press conference at the Al Lawson Center. “We’re not just talking; we’re going to hit the ground running.”

America’s first black record executive, Bell said the institute planned to approach entertainment business from all angles – from the music makers to the persons who sign the deals and the ones who cover events. He confirmed the long-held belief among students that FAMU hoped to cultivate a recording label from its music institute. “What we have to do is train not only the artists but the lawyers, the business, majors [PR and journalism students and others],” Bell said. “We’re fortunate that the industry is in transition.”

FAMU President James H. Ammons Ph. D. asserted that university’s must acknowledge the “academic value” in hip-hop and music as cultural traditions, and that the institute would become a key element. “I understand the power of music and its place in society,” Ammons said. “If we are going to impact this culture, then we, as educators, have to get involved.”

Hip-hop institute director Kawachi Clemmons Ph.D. said the CEO event would give students “skills to determine forthcoming trends and create new ideas and innovative products as future music and entertainment industry leaders.” 

Housed out of of the university’s “J-School,” the institute combines programs within the Bachelor of Science in Music degree for its Music Industry program. Students learn about recording music and the business of promoting and releasing music. The university plans to add at least 10 music industry courses in the upcoming school year.

“[The hip-hop institute] was created to actively promote and advance the knowledge about hip-hop arts and culture, and its relational position as an extension of black and African-American artistic cultural traditions,” he said.

CEO is scheduled for November 3 and 4 on FAMU’s campus.