Exploring Clive Davis: The School With the Next Big Hit

Polina Buchak, Tatiana Perez and Hannah Shulman

Diamond Naga Siu, Deputy News Editor

Since its 2003 founding, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music has boasted students and alumni responsible for multiple Billboard Top 40 songs, receiving acclaim from publications like Rolling Stone and Billboard. WSN spoke with Jeff Rabhan, Nicholas Sansano, Jason King and Bob Power — the faculty of one of NYU’s most selective programs with roughly 60 students per graduating class — to learn more about what goes into this prestigious arts program.

WSN: What is the importance and appeal of the program among students?

Jeff Rabhan: It’s a contemporary music industry broad-based program, and it’s holistic. So you will leave here understanding all the components of the business, regardless of what you want to do.

Jeff Rabhan
Hannah Shulman
Jeff Rabhan

WSN: How have the resources for students pursuing music careers changed over time?

Bob Power: It’s wonderful to see people who aren’t encumbered by the way things have been. And there’s a whole new generation of people who were born in the ‘90s, so they’re not stuck in this is how a record distributed or this is how you get your product to people. These are people who are developing and inventing the future.

Bob Powers
Polina Buchak
Bob Power

JR: We’re changing all the time. We’ve taken on a much larger role in technology with coding, digital marketing and a lot of the technological aspects of the industry, as well as the business component of that streaming economy, what that means for artists, various ways of making money, new ways of making money, but also partnering up with a lot of other programs at Tisch.

WSN: Who are some interesting musicians who graduated from the program?

Nicholas Sansano: Right off the bat are two, but one woman, Emily Warren, has had a huge hit with Jessie J, with a song called “Masterpiece.” She graduated last year but actually took a leave of absence, like many of our students who are doing well do. She took a leave, she went on to collaborate, had a bunch more hits, came back and then got her degree. It’s great.

Nicholas Sansone
Ashley Arnold
Nicholas Sansano

Jason King: We have three recent grads doing really well right now, but also, there is an amazing number of non-artist success stories. There’s a great company called Mason Jar Music, they’re doing great stuff.

Jason King
Courtesy of Jason King
Jason King

WSN: How has your time at Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music been, and how has it changed?

BP: When Mary Schmidt Campbell, who left as the dean of Tisch a few years ago called me with one of my appointments, I said, “Mary, it’s so funny, teaching is the only thing I’ve ever done that the better you get at it, the more time you have to put in.” Usually it’s exactly the opposite, and what I mean by that is that the difference in the quality of what you’re able to do for the students is actually the time you spend on them and with them outside of class.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 11 print edition. Email Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected].