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Entrepreneurs of the Arts

Daytona State College’s News-Journal Center is located in downtown Daytona Beach. Photo/Daytona State College.

Stetson University is working with Daytona State College to create a bachelor’s degree program in entrepreneurship in music and the arts that would allow Stetson students to attend classes offered in the state-of-the-art recording facilities at DSC’s News-Journal Center.

Under the proposed partnership, DSC students who complete their associate of science degree in Music Production Technology could enroll in Stetson to earn a bachelor’s degree in an interdisciplinary program that would focus on entrepreneurship and the business side of the music industry and the arts.

Faculty members from Stetson and DSC have formed a working group this semester to design the proposed curriculum and work out an agreement that would allow DSC students to gain automatic admission to Stetson, if they meet certain requirements. The new bachelor’s program could start in the fall of 2018, said Karen Ryan, Ph.D., Dean of Stetson’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Karen Ryan, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Stetson University

Stetson deans were recently invited to attend a weekend of the Curb Creative Connection in Nashville. Colleges and universities that are members receive funding from the Mike Curb Family Foundation and send students to seminars in Nashville to learn about the music business and hear from working musicians.

Curb is founder of Curb Records and has produced musicians ranging from the Osmond Family and Sammy Davis, Jr., to The Four Seasons. He was lieutenant governor of California and owns motorsports teams whose drivers have included Richard Petty. The foundation provided $500,000 to create scholarships for students in the DSC program, called the Mike Curb College of Music, Entertainment and Art.

Thomas Masse, Dean of the Stetson School of Music

“It seems to be an excellent partnership for Stetson. We seem to be a school that would benefit from this affiliation and our students would have new opportunities,” said Thomas Masse, D.M.A., Dean of the Stetson School of Music. “They have the facilities that are quite remarkable for sound design and recording technologies … and the faculty members in place to execute a world-class program.”

The new program could be housed in the Museum of Art – DeLand building across the street from Stetson on Woodland Boulevard, Ryan said. The university announced in November that it was in talks to purchase the building at 600 N. Woodland Blvd. If that happens, Ryan would like to bring together Stetson’s creative arts programs there, including the visual arts, theater arts, digital arts and possibly a new dance program.

A second phase could bring the renovation of nearby Cummings Gym, and expand the arts programs into that space, as well as into a small museum building behind the Museum of Art that Stetson already owns, Ryan said. The School of Music would remain in Presser Hall.

“We can have an arts mini-campus in that area,” Ryan said. “None of this is tomorrow, of course; this is a multi-year process. … Ultimately, we want to unify the College’s fine and performing arts programs in those buildings.”

‘A Huge Need’

Jake Niceley, associate professor of Music Production Technology at DSC, is an award-winning audio engineer and sound designer with close ties to the Nashville music scene. He designed the DSC program, which opened in January 2010 with three times more students than anticipated, he said.

DSC students in recording studio

DSC students work on an audio recording in The News-Journal Center. Photos/Daytona State College

Students who want to work in the music business these days need to be entrepreneurs, he explained. They need a broad range of skills, from understanding business and copyright law or handling social media campaigns, and producing audio recordings and videos.

The same is true in other arts and the media because no longer do institutions, like publishing houses and media chains, produce most of the work. Instead, individuals with a laptop or a smartphone make videos, create websites or self-publish their work, he said.

“Most of the students leaving here, and leaving programs like ours, are going to go into the workforce as sole proprietors, independent contractors, entrepreneurs,” said Niceley, who has co-owned and operated recording studios that worked with The Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Bob Seger. “They’re going to be coming up with the next big thing. That’s what we want – for them to be innovative and come up with something that changes the world.”

Details of the new bachelor’s degree at Stetson haven’t been worked out yet, but Niceley envisions it could teach students about enterprise in music, media and the arts. Stetson students in the program could take classes at DSC’s News-Journal Center, and in Stetson’s School of Music, Digital Arts program and School of Business Administration.

DSC Professor Jake Niceley

Jake Niceley, associate professor at Daytona State College

Niceley sees “a huge need in the community” for the degree, especially given the size of the music business in Orlando. Theme parks need audio engineers for their shows, and cruise ships stage performances in 2,000-seat auditoriums aboard their fleets of ships. Conventions entertain attendees with elaborate multimedia shows with lighting and sound displays, all of which require trained technicians.

“We think about the music business being in New York and L.A. and Nashville, but there’s an awful lot of music business that goes on in Orlando and … all over the state of Florida,” Niceley said. “It just isn’t consolidated in one place as it is in those other places and we also have the live entertainment aspect that those places don’t have, like for the theme parks and conventions.”

DSC student Ysa Fernandez

Ysa Fernandez

DSC students find entry-level jobs as audio engineers after graduation, but some of the program’s 150 to 200 students want to earn bachelor’s degrees, Niceley said.

Ysa Fernandez is a second-year student in the DSC program and said she’s already looking at colleges where she could get a bachelor’s degree. She was happy to hear DSC might partner with Stetson to offer a degree, which she thinks will help her find work in the music industry in Nashville one day.

“It really caught my attention because I love Stetson,” said Fernandez, 20, of New Smyrna Beach. “Our program really focuses on the technical side of things and less on the business side of things. I would like to venture more into the business side with my bachelor’s degree.”

DSC students

DSC students practice in The News-Journal Center.

The working group of Stetson and DSC faculty members hope to come up with curriculum recommendations by May and then seek the necessary approvals to start the new bachelor’s program. Stetson currently offers a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Music Technology and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Digital Arts with an emphasis on music production. But the new degree would emphasize entrepreneurship and business while also giving Stetson students access to coursework at DSC’s News-Journal Center.

“Those are amazing production facilities,” said Ryan of Stetson’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The idea has always been that our students would have the opportunity to use those facilities and Daytona State students would be able to take advantage of the liberal arts education of Stetson. That’s the win-win of this partnership.”

-Cory Lancaster