Wasserman Music, BMAC and Tennessee State University Announce Music Accelerator Program

Wasserman MusicBlack Music Action Coalition (BMAC) and the Commercial Music Program at Tennessee State University (TSU) have launched their inaugural Music Accelerator Program, with essential, local collaboration and contributions from Nashville Music Equality, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and YouTube.

The Music Accelerator Program is a three-week educational program during TSU's “Maymester” mini-semester that runs through May 26, providing a class of approximately 20 TSU students with an intensive curriculum in various disciplines across the music business, from songwriting and copyrights to publishing, labels, marketing, touring, publicity, and beyond. The program will feature guest lectures from influential music executives and dynamic entrepreneurs along with in-class case studies. The program will provide paid internship placements with companies including Wasserman Music and Quality Control Music.

The Music Accelerator Program offers students deep dives with subject experts across industry disciplines. Confirmed guest speakers and sessions include:

  • Life of a Song: Dre London (Post Malone manager), Rachel Whitney (Spotify), Janishia Jones & Tina Davis (EMPIRE), and Shay Lawson (Lawson McKinley)
  • Marketing 101: Tuma Basa (YouTube), Shawn Holiday (Full Stop), Mallory Smith & Chappel McCollister (Wasserman Music), and Ashaunna Ayars (Ayars Agency)
  • Record Label 101: Russell Barrett (EMPIRE), Jon Loba & Tim Reid (BMG), and Rachel Fontenot (UMG)
  • Live Touring 101: Alex Maxwell (Live Nation), Jamil Davis (Revels Group), Callender (Wasserman Music), and Andrew Lieber (MAC Agency)
  • Talent Buying/Event Promotion: Marcus Allen & Brandon McEachern (Broccoli City), Marcus Johnson (Goldenvoice), and Bryan Benson (Live Nation)
  • Guest Artist Session and Original Content: singer/songwriter/record producer Breland, artist services executive Nada Taha (GoodCopBadCop and Apple Music), and Stephanie Davenport (Warner Music A&R)
  • PR/Media Relations: Max Gousse (Founder, Artistry Group), Kenny Smoov (Cumulus), Didier Morais (Vital Versatility), and Ashley Eicher (Personality & Host)
  • Networking/Leadership: Cameo Carlson (mTheory), Farrah Usmani (Nixon Peabody), Shannon Sanders (BMI)
  • Artists & Teams: Amber Grimes (LVRN)
  • Art 101: Singer/songwriter Joy Oladokun and team

This initiative is one of many commitments Wasserman Music has made via its partnership with Color of Change and their #ChangeMusic platform. The agency and partner BMAC plan to expand the program to additional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the coming years. YouTube, in partnership with 353 Media Group, will support this effort by capturing content from the program to showcase its impact and encourage additional partners and universities to participate in the future. BMAC’s commitment to impactful change starts with making space for the next generation of young Black leaders in the music industry. The Music Accelerator Program at Tennessee State University will be an opportunity to give students a leg up in Nashville and beyond.

"We're delighted that this prestigious and accomplished group of speakers have chosen to be part of our effort to train the next generation of music industry leaders," says Denise Melanson, Director of Social Impact at Wasserman. "We're proud to work with all of them, along with our partners, to make this an outstanding program for these students."

Tuma Basa, Director of Black Music & Culture at YouTube, says, “My father is a professor at an HBCU down the road, so this is a real full circle moment for me. It’s a pleasure to walk in his footsteps sharing knowledge with the students of Tennessee State University. Let’s go!”

“LVRN supports BMAC and Wasserman Music Accelerator Program at Tennessee State University.  We all started very young in this business and are forever grateful to those that invested time into developing us as executives. We believe we have a responsibility to pay it  forward and invest in the next generation of young leaders and this program is the perfect opportunity,” adds Amber Grimes, EVP/GM of LVRN.

Tina Davis, EVP of A&R, EMPIRE continues, “What BMAC and Wasserman have put together for the students of TSU is incredible.  Throughout my career, I’ve been dedicated to empowering the next generation of leaders and I’m thrilled to be a part of the inauguration of this program!”

“Nashville has, for decades, largely ignored the rich history of Black artists and Black music coming out of the city. Music Row, specifically, has shut out almost any ‘outside’ artists, songwriters, producers and musicians. This accelerator program is an opportunity for the next generation to get a start right in Nashville, which will hopefully provide them an advantage,” says Naima Cochrane, BMAC Board Member.

“I am truly honored to come speak with a live audience of music lovers at Tennessee State University. The Music Accelerator Program is an incredible resource for aspiring young creatives, a program I would have loved to be a part of when I was starting out on my music journey, so I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to share what I’ve learned and to help in any way that I can,” says Dre London, BMAC Executive Leadership Council.

Catherine Brewton EVP, BMI continues, “Supporting initiatives like Black Music Action Coalition x Wasserman’s Music Accelerator program is a great platform for myself to invest into the future leaders of the music industry, I have built my career investing in and mentoring future leaders. It is incumbent upon those of us who are gatekeepers to provide access, opportunities and a seat at the table that creates room for success.”

Dallas Austin adds, “I have always considered myself a teacher, supporter and investor in the future leaders in the industry as my studios have always been a place for learning and collaboration. I fully support the Black Music Action Coalition and the Wasserman’s Music Accelerator program.”

The Music Accelerator Program opens with an introductory retreat featuring program partners Dr. Mark Crawford of Tennessee State University’s Commercial Music Program; Wasserman Music executives Lee Anderson, Lenore Kinder; Wasserman’s Senior Director, Inclusion, Equity & Diversity, Lindsay LaBennett, and Director, Social Impact Denise Melanson; BMAC Co-Founder/Co-Chair Willie “Prophet” Stiggers; Nashville Music Equality’s Brian Sexton; RIAA’s Jackie Jones; and Google’s Margaret Hart. Its May 26 closing retreat, to be held at the National Museum of African American Music, features speakers Dallas Austin, SIR THE BAPTIST, Catherine Brewton, and museum President/CEO Henry Hicks.


Wasserman Music represents a world-class roster of artists for live performance, touring, brand partnerships and beyond, empowering them to create culture and impact audiences globally. The passionate, entrepreneurial agents at Wasserman Music are long-term artist development strategists who build significant, global platforms for the world's most impactful artists. Wasserman Music is a division of Wasserman, a partner to the world's most iconic sports figures, musical artists, brands, and properties.

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