NASHVILLE, August 21, 2003 – One of Nashville’s most successful music industry executives will become 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.
Jim Van Hook, former chairman and CEO of Provident Music Group, brings both an academic and an entrepreneurial background to the Dean’s chair. Holding a Master of Music Education, with enough hours for a doctorate, Van Hook 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 Brentwood Music into a music industry powerhouse.
Van Hook started the company in 1981 with a $500 investment. Today the company, now owned by Bertelsmann Music Group, is one of the top three companies in the Christian music industry and includes such labels as Benson Records, Verity Records, Reunion Records, Essential Label Group, Brentwood Records and Diadem Music, plus the largest publishing catalog of Christian songs in the world with Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc. Van Hook sold Brentwood Music to Zomba Music Group, the world’s largest independent music company, in 1994. Zomba renamed the company Provident Music Group in 1997, and sold it to BMG within the last year.
Belmont University’s new Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business is building on the strength of Belmont’s already well-regarded BBA program in music business. The new Dean will lead the college in developing new and innovative programs to serve other facets of the entertainment industry. Currently, the college of music business enrolls approximately 700 undergraduate students and employs 11 full-time faculty and 13 full-time staff. The program features state-of-the-art facilities, including on-campus studios as well as Ocean Way Nashville and the historic RCA Studio B on Music Row; an established study and internship program, Belmont West, in Los Angeles, and another, Belmont East, in the final planning stages in New York City; international study opportunities in Great Britain, Germany, and Australia; and an internal record label, Acklen Records.
Belmont University President Dr. Robert Fisher said Van Hook’s music business experience and entrepreneurial spirit make him the right choice to lead the growth of the new college. “I couldn’t be more pleased to appoint someone with the stature and experience of Jim Van Hook as the inaugural dean of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. He is known throughout the industry for his innovation and entrepreneurial spirit and we’re excited to bring this same perspective to Belmont University.”
Van Hook built his company before the emergence of Belmont’s music business program, but says today that Belmont’s program is very much needed.
“Belmont’s school of music business is the most significant school of music business in America. Bob Fisher has a great vision for expanding it into other areas of entertainment. There’s a lot more work to be done in the development of that dream. It has tremendous momentum already. I’m just blown away by what’s been accomplished so far,” said Van Hook, explaining why he decided to end a brief retirement and become the college’s first dean.
“I think the industry, and the world for that matter, has so dramatically changed ? everything from technology, business models and attitudes. A more sophisticated response in terms of education and preparation is much more important than it ever was,” Van Hook said. “Today’s challenges require a very different approach. We didn?t have downloading back then. We didn’t have Soundscan back then. We didn’t have the same pricing pressures back then. Today, we need better training for tomorrow’s leaders and I think Belmont is rising to that occasion.”
Van Hook Biographical Information
Van Hook earned a master’s degree in music education at Peabody College in Nashville.
He began his career in 1963 as a music professor at Trevecca, where he served in the music department for six years and was later promoted to assistant director of public relations. In 1971, he accepted an offer to become the minister of music for the Bethany First Church of the Nazarene in Bethany, Oklahoma. Van Hook coordinated an extensive music program with 19 ensembles and choirs and also directed a weekly studio-produced television show.
Van Hook returned to Nashville in 1979 as senior vice president of The Benson Company, where he was responsible for the company’s creative product development and music publishing, then founded Provident – as Brentwood Music – in 1981, specializing in unique inspirational music and church choral product.
In 1991, Van Hook’s company was the recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s prestigious Small Business of the Year Award.
Van Hook has served as president of the Exhibitors Association for the Christian Booksellers Association, chairman of the Crossroads Business Park Association, a member of the CEO Roundtable of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, president of the Church Music Publishers Association, Executive Board member of the Christian Booksellers Association, and has been a board member of the Gospel Music Association and the Christian Music Trade Association.
Van Hook resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife Susie. They have two children: Brent, who is married and pastoring a church in Oklahoma and Susan, who along with husband Rod Riley, own and operate Spirit-Led and Fervent Records in Franklin, Tenn.