Berklee Appoints First Woman Assistant Chair of Music Business/Management

Tonya Butler brings extensive industry experience to her new role as assistant chair of music business/management. 

June 21, 2017

Tonya Butler will be the new assistant chair of the Music Business/Management Department at Berklee College of Music beginning August 1. She will be the first woman to have a leadership role in the department. She succeeds John Kellogg, who is retiring after more than a decade in the position. Butler is an accomplished educator, attorney, administrator, and motivational speaker. She comes to Berklee from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she directed the Music Industry Studies program. She previously served as the coordinator of music business at the University of Memphis and course director of entertainment marketing and media distribution at the Los Angeles Film School.  

“I have been in the music business for a long time and trust me, it is no joke,” said Butler. “Luckily, Berklee understands exactly what it takes to succeed and I can hardly wait to add my two cents to the till and my spice to the pot.”

Prior to teaching, Butler spent 14 years as an entertainment attorney working in-house for record and publishing companies and film studios. Her business and legal affairs expertise includes drafting master use and synch licenses for Rhino Records, songwriter and recording agreements for Japanese label and music publisher GlobalDisc Records, and film soundtrack and composer agreements for MGM Music. She oversaw marketing and promotion for Pioneer Entertainment, and provided business consulting for several independent record labels and artists.

“Tonya brings a wealth of experience, wisdom, and positive energy to Berklee and the Music Business/Management Department,” said Don Gorder, department chair. “She will be a great fit, and we’re eager to get her into the mix.

Butler is a longtime music industry advocate, having served on Memphis and Shelby County's music, film, and television commissions; the Memphis Rock 'N Soul Museum Board of Directors; and the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Associations Executive Board. She is a voting member and former two-term governor of the Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy and the current chair of the College Music Society’s Committee on Music Business and Industry Engagement.

An accomplished motivational speaker, Butler has shared her story of how she defied the odds of growing up in the housing projects of Watts, Compton, and South Los Angeles, to become a teacher, author, and industry advocate. She is an award-winning toastmaster, who has competed at the regional and national level, and has presented numerous seminars on how to take personal responsibility for your career, based on her book, The Music Business is Corrupt…or Maybe You Just Can’t Sing?.

Butler has a Juris Doctorate degree from California Western School of Law and a Master of Laws degree in entertainment and media from Southwestern University School of Law/Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, England.