EVER WONDERED HOW BEYONCÉ CONTINUES TO RELEASE hit after glorious hit two decades into her career? Well, starting next year, you can because the man who helped make Her Highness, “Third Ward Trill” Beyoncé a household name is taking you back to school.
Record executive Mathew Knowles, father of Queen Bey and her equally influential sister, Houston-proud homegirl Solange Knowles, will be leading a 15-week virtual master class, "The Music Industry and the Digital Age," at the University of Houston, beginning on January 25, 2021. And because it’s a master class, this crash course in making it in the music biz is open to anyone.
“Unfortunately, we have about a 95 percent failure rate of artists in the industry,” the former manager of Grammy-winning girl group Destiny’s Child said during a Zoom call. “Part of the reason that we have this much failure is because of the business acumen of the teams around these artists. This is an opportunity for me to share my failures, my successes, and my experiences in the music industry.”
As Houstonians may know, Knowles, who founded Music World Entertainment in 1992, didn’t garner his lengthy portfolio of achievements—including executive producing more than 100 award-winning albums and an MTV Video Music Award—with seamless success. While getting his foot in the door, he took weekend classes at Houston Community College to learn about artist management and spent months in the early 1990s mailing demos to record labels before inking his first deal in 1995.
When recalling his early steps into the executive world, Knowles not only acknowledged how exhaustive it was, but also how he wished he had better guidance with his investments. “I wish someone had told me, ‘Look, you need to really focus on getting the business acumens of the music industry down," he said. This semester-long master class with UH is meant to not only help future music executives avoid the mistakes he made on his way to the top, but it will also help them strengthen their skills in such areas as branding and entrepreneurship.
“I always say there’s a price of admission to the music industry: it’s about knowledge,” the music mogul said. Lucky for us, he’s no stranger to giving eager upstarts a pseudo-hall pass, having taught courses at Texas Southern University. If having Knowles in front of the blackboard doesn't sound cool enough, he also revealed plans to bring guest stars in for visits during the 15-week run. And while he wouldn’t give us a sneak peek of who’s on the collab list, we can only imagine who might be dropping in for a featured appearance.
Since the upcoming course has a maximum capacity of just 35 students, Knowles said he’s hoping to strip away traditional teaching and create a personal interaction with students. But if you’re looking to become the next Sasha Fierce, sorry, that’s not what this course is about. "We are not trying to make artists in this class," press materials for the course state. "We are trying to make the best managers, producers and record executives."
Enrollment for UH’s The Music Industry and the Digital Age is currently open. Jan 25–May 10, 2021. $3,000. More info and registration at bauer.uh.edu.