Billboard Names Occidental One of Top Music Programs

Jim Tranquada Marc Campos/Occidental College

For the third year, Occidental College’s Music Department has been named as one of the world’s top music business programs by Billboard magazine.

Occidental is one of 38 schools—and one of only three liberal arts colleges—listed in Billboard’s unranked, alphabetical accounting of top music programs in the United States, Britain and Spain. Schools are chosen based on industry and alumni recommendations, information requested from each school and Billboard's own reporting.

"We are delighted to receive this recognition," says David Kasunic, associate professor of music and department chair. "Over the past eight years we have worked hard to create a curriculum that reflects and takes full advantage of our Los Angeles location while doubling down on our commitment to equity, access, and the enduring values of a well-rounded liberal arts education-- which are needed today more than ever. We are grateful to our generous alumni and to our campus colleagues for making it possible for us to achieve our vision."

At Occidental, “the study of music business is embedded within the liberal arts curriculum, where many non-performing music students double-major in disciplines ranging from economics to computer science to film studies,” Billboard reports. “Located in L.A., one of the centers of the global music industry, the school offers abundant access to internships and has developed courses such as introduction to music business, where students collaborate to create artist profiles and business plans that they then execute through digital service providers such as Bandcamp and Spotify, as well as offline.

Oxy’s music faculty include Grammy-nominated and Emmy-winning composer Adam Schoenberg; singer-songwriter Ramona Gonzalez ’09, the Johnston-Fix Professor of the Practice in Songwriting; and composer, songwriter and audio engineer Max Foreman, director of the Choi Family Music Production Center.

Occidental recently added a state-of-the-art music studio and computer lab, the Choi Family Music Production Center, designed by Peter Grueneisen of nonzero\architecture, who’s known for his work for Sony Music, DreamWorks and Hans Zimmer.

Oxy alumni include such prominent music industry figures as Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper ’68; manager Ian Montone ’89 (Jack White, LCD Soundsystem); music attorney John Branca ’72, Billboard’s 2016 Lawyer of the Year; music attorney Richard Leher ’66 (Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam); Welz Kaufmann ’83, president and CEO of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival; and the late Guy Carawan ’49, musical director of Tennessee’s Highlander Folk School, credited with turning “We Shall Overcome” into a civil rights anthem.