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CEMB Students Take SXSW Class for Credit

15 upperclassmen set to travel to Austin March 13-18 for innovative experiential learning opportunity

Next week 15 Belmont University students will make their way to Austin, Texas for SXSW (also known as “South by Southwest”), the world’s leading music industry event. But this isn’t merely a unique Spring Break excursion. Rather, the students will be part of an experiential learning course offered by Belmont’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.

“As an innovative college in the field of music business, Belmont University views SXSW as an opportunity for our students to use this preeminent industry conference as a giant classroom,” said Dan Keen, faculty advisor and instructor for the course. “Our goal is to equip our students attending the event with the tools, strategy and mindset to come away from the experience with ideas, concepts and inspiration that they can immediately apply to the realization of their career goals and dreams. Oh, and we hope they immerse themselves in some amazing new music as well!”

The one-credit hour course occurs during the SXSW music conference March 13-18. Students are required to complete a number of course objectives including identifying and networking with leading executives, acquiring knowledge of industry trends and new markets and discovering emerging artists. These objectives will be assessed via a presentation to faculty and reflection paper at the conclusion of the conference in addition to attendance and demonstrated knowledge of panels and showcases during the week-long experience.

On the value of this non-traditional class, SXSW participant Bianca Ortega, a junior with a double major in marketing and music business, said, “It’s been a goal of mine to attend SXSW for several years now. There’s no other industry conference that allows you to network with so many industry professionals, attend such a wide variety of artist showcases, and learn about the latest and greatest trends in the ever-changing entertainment industry.”

Junior Ale Delgado, Jr., an honors student majoring in music business, added, “At the bare minimum, success in the music industry is about keeping up with trends. SXSW is where you go to experience what’s next… I’m going to SXSW to investigate these crossroads, discover new music, and meet the people who will join me on the way to the future.”

During their time at SXSW, students will tweet multiple times a day with hashtag #busxsw, and individual teams will create three YouTube video summaries of their experiences that will be available for viewing in April.

According to its website, SXSW aims to educate and inspire participants by offering numerous industry events and countless networking opportunities. Daytime events at the Austin Convention Center flow into the world-renowned music festival, which showcases over 2,000 acts from more than 50 countries on 90 stages throughout downtown Austin.

In addition to a keynote address from Bruce Springsteen, notable speakers on panels this year include: artist Gloria Gaynor discussing the legislation that allows authors to reclaim their copyrights after 35 years on “How Stella Got Her Masters Back: Reversion Rights”; entrepreneur and former Executive VP of Island Def Jam Music Group and Warner Music Group, Kevin Liles, talking about the many aspects of artists’ brands on the panel “Taking the Throne: The Brand Is the New King”; Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen, collectively known as StarGate, discussing their successful careers working with artists such as Ne-Yo, Rihanna and Beyonce; and founder and CEO of, Billy Chasen, joins the panel “Social Music Strategies: Viral & the Power of Free.” In all, more than 450 panelists are slated to converse and network in the Austin Convention Center.

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