Course on Michael Jackson: Teaching the business of music

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 24, 2012 05:28 hrs

​Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia, US, in their quest for innovation in higher education, has decided to use insights from the legendary pop star's life to teach business management to its students. Titled 'Michael Jackson: The Business of Music', the course is part of the MBA concentration in Sports and Entertainment Management offered by the university. The course will look into MJ's billion dollar empire – his deals, negotiations, merchandising, real estate and legal practices. The announcement came on August 29, coinciding with the birthday of the late pop star.

But can any discussion on Jackson's life ever be complete without the numerous controversies the pop icon was embroiled in. Aren't these very significant factors in the life of a man who the course plans to present as a role model to future managers? Dr. Charles Moses, dean (acting), School of Business, Clark Atlanta University, said through e-mail. 'I recently read some mini-biographies of some of the world's great composers. Many had lives which were enmeshed in controversies of one type or another. We won't run from the negatives, but we will emphasise Michael Jackson's achievements in business,' he said, dismissing claims of a negative impact of these controversies on the course and students.

What's more, the institute claims to have heard from representatives of the Jackson family. Although refusing to divulge the capacity in which they will be associated with the program, Dr. Moses informed, 'I heard last week from a representative of one of the Jackson family who will be meeting with me here in Atlanta. We think we will be successful in winning the family's support for the MBA program.” The course enjoys the support of other US-based musical stars. 'We are building formal associations with a variety of artists, one of who is the R&B artist NeYo,' he added.

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While he built a successful business empire, the King of Pop was in debt at the time of his death. So, doesn't that go against the basic idea of the course? 'He was a very good businessman and owned some very, very valuable musical rights (the Beatles and Elvis Presley). Many other famous musical artists were not good at business. The course will incorporate those aspects to teach students about the less romantic parts of a very tough and competitive business. Michael Jackson in debt is a case quite different from that of others. It is a good lesson for budding music and sport impresarios,' answered Dr. Moses.

Although the course will focus on business dealings from a different era, the institute also plans to factor in contemporary business practices. The pedagogy will include case studies (which the institute will develop) and simulations modelled on best practices. The b-school has roped in former entertainment attorney James Walker to teach the course. Apart from him, faculty from the b-school and industry professionals will also teach parts of the course. The course is slated to begin in August 2013 and will cost USD 30000 per year.

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