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Belmont University Dean Selected as Interim CEO of Word Entertainment

Jim Van Hook, Dean of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University, has been named interim chairman of Word Entertainment in a unique arrangement that carries great potential for both the university’s academic programs in music business and for the industry’s oldest Christian music label.
Van Hook, former chairman and CEO of Provident Music Group, which he founded in 1981 and sold to Zomba Music Group in 1994, was appointed Dean of the Curb College in the fall of 2003. He will assume the interim CEO role immediately. The dual role for Van Hook makes the Curb College the only college of music business with a dean who is active as an executive in the music industry.


Van Hook initially turned down a request from Warner Music Group, Word’s parent company, to take the helm of Word Entertainment, in order to remain at Belmont and only agreed to accept the job if Warner agreed to a unique arrangement that would allow Van Hook to remain Dean of Belmont’s high-profile music business college as well. “I love my Belmont work and it is starting to click and I’m not through yet,” he said.
“The unique nature of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business is such that direct involvement in the industry is valuable to Belmont University in certain situations,” Van Hook said. “This appears to be one of those times when both Belmont and Word will benefit through numerous synergies. I’m thoroughly enjoying my deanship at Belmont and have no intentions of lessening my focus and attention to its growth and development.”
Van Hook retired from Provident Music a year and a half ago after Zomba sold it to Bertelsmann Music Group. “My intention a year and a half ago was to retire and I have totally failed at the effort,” said Van Hook.
Word Entertainment grew out of Word Records, a Christian music label started in 1951 that eventually grew to be the largest label in the faith-based genre.
Today, Word Entertainment encompasses Word Label Group, Word Publishing, Word Music, and Word Distribution. It’s roster of performers and songwriters includes Amy Grant, Point Of Grace, Sixpence None The Richer, Jaci Velasquez, Nicole C. Mullen, Rachael Lampa, Mark Schultz, Randy Travis and Shirley Caesar.
Van Hook said his four-fold mission at Word will be to hire the right people, to “manage the managers” rather than try to run the business himself, to build a business model responsive to today’s fast-changing entertainment industry economics, and affect the company’s corporate culture in a positive way. “It’s a Christian company so it needs to act like, smell like, look like and be a Christian company,” he says.
“I think there are going to be tremendous synergies,” he said. For example, “We’ll use students for internships like you’ve never seen before,” he said, and there will also be ways to incorporate Curb College faculty in Word projects, and to bring Word artists to the Curb Café on the Belmont campus.
Van Hook says the role of a record label CEO involves many of the same tasks and activities as does being the dean of the Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business. Just as a CEO spends time on such issues as pricing pressures, copyright, Internet downloading and other industry issues and trends, so does he as Dean of the Curb College, he says. As CEO of Word Entertainment, he said, “Word becomes my lab. The synergies are just all over the board and that’s the only means by which it makes sense.”
About Jim Van Hook
Jim Van Hook was one of Nashville’s most successful music industry executives before he was named as the first dean of Belmont University’s new Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business – the nations’ first college dedicated to offering comprehensive education for careers in the entertainment industry.
The founder and former chairman and CEO of Provident Music Group, Van Hook holds a Master of Music Education degree and was a music professor at Trevecca Nazarene University for six years in the 1960s, before embarking on a career in the music business where his management style of “mentoring, teaching and coaching,” helped him build his company, then called Brentwood Music, into a music industry powerhouse.
He started Brentwood Music in 1981 with $500 and sold the business to the Zomba Record Company in 1994, staying on for 10 years as CEO/President and Chairman. It was an $85 million business when he retired. Today it remains one of the top three companies in the Christian music industry..
About the Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business
Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business was established in 2003 to build on the strength of Belmont’s already well-regarded BBA program in music business by developing new and innovative programs to serve other facets of the entertainment industry. Curb College enrolls approximately 700 undergraduate students and features state-of-the-art on-campus recording studios. Belmont also owns the Ocean Way Nashville recording studio and the historic RCA Studio B on Music Row, and offers a variety of study and internship programs including Belmont West, in Los Angeles, and Belmont East, in New York City; international study opportunities in Great Britain, Germany, and Australia; and an internal student-run record label, Acklen Records.

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