Billboard names KSU's music and entertainment business program among 'finest' in world

Billboard Magazine just named Kennesaw State's Music and Entertainment Business program among the "finest" in the world. It's a familiar recognition for the program that has earned the distinction four years in a row.

It's the kind of place where high profile entertainers like John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band can just casually drop in on a class like it's nothing.

Students at the Joel Kats Music and Entertainment Business School on KSU's campus know that they're the next generation of leaders in the entertainment industry.

"I call them real world practitioners," Keith Perissi, the director of the program, said, "Everyone that's here is actually in the business."

Keith Perissi, director of the Joel A. Katz Music & Entertainment Business (MEBUS) Program at Kennesaw State University. (FOX 5 Atlanta)

Perissi is a musician himself. He said he built the program with an emphasis on students learning from those working in the industry.

"For me it's everything," Perissi said, "When I was their age, these are the kinds of people that I would have loved to have known in my journey."

One of the program's students, Kyla Young, is on a unique journey of her own here.

She wants to start her own aviation acrobatics business when she graduates next year, so she said she's here to learn how to be an entertainer.

"What I really gained is that confidence in being a performer, that knowledge on how to develop an event or anything to do with entertainment from the ground up," said Young.

She's arguably in a great place to do that.

Billboard Magazine's ranking of the school puts it among the top schools in the world for the fourth year straight, adding high-profile prestige to Kennesaw State.

"For us, it's incredible because we're such a young program to be named with all these other great programs," said Perissi. "Anyone can enter this building and succeed. We're sort of like the U.N. of the entertainment business."

Speaking of the building's entrance, you'll find walls filled with memorabilia from the industry's titans. From artwork by Michael Jackson, to far too many platinum records to count, it's all been donated by Joel Katz. He was the legendary attorney to many of these stars.

"Joel Katz means everything to this place. He's our namesake and main donor, our inspiration," said Perissi. "He's opened doors for us that most students wouldn't have access to."

Katz has crowned more recording superstars than anyone in the industry, and through his philanthropy and involvement, he's grooming its next generation.

"We're all artists," said Chris Sinclair, a junior in the program. "We all love either music, or film or theater. And we're all interested in the entertainment industry. And we all create together. Everybody's really creative. And it's kind of like a big family."

Maybe that's the secret to its success.

The Billboard recognition remains an important milestone for the still fairly new program.

"That's kind of the spirit of our program, whether its on camera, or in a studio in mixing, or if in business, once you get this opportunity, it's yours to take and succeed," said Perissi.