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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
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By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

‘Passion meets profession’: Club helps students start music, entertainment business careers

Members+of+the+Music+%26+Entertainment+Business+Association+gather+for+a+meeting.
Courtesy of Melissa Atanasio
Members of the Music & Entertainment Business Association gather for a meeting.

For Benjamin Leighow, president of the club Music and Entertainment Business, it is important for students interested in the music business to have a community as early on in their careers as possible. 

While neighboring schools like Point Park University have a diverse list of courses for music business, Leighow said there are significantly less opportunities for students at Pitt. He spoke to Pitt’s Business School about creating more music business courses, but the process for creating new courses requires a significant amount of student and faculty interest before they can be made.

This galvanized Leighow, a sophomore marketing major, to form MEBA at the beginning of the spring semester in order to show that there are a significant number of students at Pitt who would benefit from more music and entertainment business opportunities.

“We’re founded upon a mission of educating people on all the opportunities there are in the music industry to work, to volunteer, to do anything, and bringing in people from Pittsburgh and outside to network with students and talk about their experiences,” Leighow said.

Natalie Connell, a junior marketing and supply chain management major and business manager of MEBA, said her favorite part of the club is setting up meetings. Despite being founded by business students, Connell emphasizes that the food, drinks and opportunities at the events are open to anyone who is interested.

“Ben and Mel established a good amount of the club before I joined, but getting things rolling with tabling and SORC is where I came in,” Connell said. “Our first time tabling was actually so fun. We played music and laughed and actually had a lot of interest. This really boosted our confidence in what the club could be, knowing that all these people were interested.”

Melissa Atanasio, a senior marketing and human resources management and vice president of MEBA, remembers how there were not many resources for students interested in going into the music business industry when she first came to Pitt. She said she wished a club such as MEBA existed when she was a first-year.

“We’re founded on this slogan that we are where passion meets profession,” Atanasio said. “We’re trying to take the passion that people have in this industry and pair it with the professional opportunities that exist, because there’s actually more Pitt alumni than you would think that work in these fields.”

Leighow echoed Atanasio’s sentiments, saying one of their main goals is to foster a pre-professional community that will prove beneficial once members graduate and enter into the music industry.

“We’re here to help and we’re here to grow as industry professionals together,” Leighow said.

Connell said she knew Leighow and Atanasio before the start of the club and was motivated to get involved because of the community and shared interests.

“I think MEBA is just such a special environment where anyone is welcome and able to express themselves openly,” Connell said. “Something we have is a shared Spotify playlist, so anyone can share a song or listen to new music. We use this to connect people of similar interests and open up members to new types of music.”

MEBA hosted the band Flipturn and artist Sarah Gross at their first two meetings, where they spoke about their experience in the industry and gave advice to students. According to Leighow, MEBA is in contact with Pitt alumni who they hope will attend their meetings in the future.

“There’s a ton of Pitt alumni who work in the industry,” Leighow said. “We’ve already established so many amazing connections for people to come in and speak and meet our members — it’s so cool.”

During their visit, Flipturn and Sarah Gross told MEBA that if there is an opportunity that is not available, then students should create them — the same idea that inspired Leighow to form the club in the first place.

 

About the Contributor
Khushi Rai, Senior Staff Writer