Barbe benefits UGA, Athens music industry

David Barbe is many things: graduate of Grady College, past and present musician in various bands, co-founder of Chase Park Transduction Studio and most recently, he even stepped in to perform with the well-known band Drive-By Truckers. In addition to these accomplishments, Barbe is now serving his fourth term as the director of the Music Business Program at UGA.

It would not do justice to say his musical and professional versatility is a positive asset to UGA and the Athens community as a whole; Barbe is the driving force behind the music industry at UGA and in Athens.

Barbe graduated from UGA 25 years ago and has been involved with the music industry in Athens ever since. Coming from parents who were both professional musicians, Barbe started playing with bands when he was 12 years old. After coming to Athens for college, he was hooked. “Athens is the greatest place in the world. I do not want to leave here,” he said. This may come as relief to music lovers.

Barbe’s familiarity and connections to so many people within the local music industry benefits his students as well as Athenians interested in music.

“He literally knows everyone related to music in Athens. He has definitely impacted the music business program on campus through these connections,” Jordan Anderson, a junior in the music business program, said.

Barbe relies on the Music Business Program to not only lead students into various aspects of the music industry, but to enhance the music industry in Athens as a whole. “I think the program makes UGA a center for the music industry. It’s a reliable source of manpower,” Barbe said.

One of the ways Barbe utilizes his connections and manpower is through his externship program.  Barbe helps place each student in a music industry-related externship, which benefits both the students as well as the externship host. Partners with the externship include 40 Watt, Georgia Theater, Nuci’s Space and many more, according to the Music Business Program’s website.

The students are able to gain experience in different aspects of the field, and in return the externship hosts are able to increase employment without having to pay more salaries. The externship program also helps the hosts and the students to form connections and relationships with those who share their interest in music.

Tom Lewis, associate director of the Music Business Program, believes the externship to be a vital part of completing the program. “The bottom line is we can talk about anything we wish, but if we’re not engaged in it then we are just talking,” he said. “We can talk about details, but the real work is in the doing. If we can put them in the right spot… then we’re cooking!”

With the recent re-opening of the Georgia Theater and the expansion of the Classic Center, Athens’ music industry is thriving more than ever. Even in the fist year of it’s opening, the Theater is bringing a multitude of music fans to downtown Athens.

“People trust Barbe’s taste. He can convince bands to come and also convince people what bands we want,” Rachel Martz, an employee at the Georgia Theater, said. “And I know he is responsible for bringing bands and performers to us in the past!”

“He knows when a talented up-and-comer can step up to the plate and drive it home,” said Lewis. “I don’t second guess him.  He is a visionary.”


For Barbe, the program is all about the students. “I teach them to focus on quality, to care more than others, think on their feet, and to under-promise and over-deliver,” he said.

It is also Barbe’s teaching style that makes him such as asset.  “When we are talking about an unfamiliar subject, he uses examples we know and can relate to,” Anderson said. “His lectures are easy to follow and you can tell he has so much passion about music. That really encourages me.”

Barbe does the teaching, but leaves the learning up to the students.  “He knows it doesn’t matter what we think so much for the future. It’s what they think because it is they that will do,” Lewis said.

Barbe agrees his teaching style is unusual. “I’m unorthodox in my teaching style. It’s true I don’t have a career in academia, but I describe my teaching style as intense but positive, jovial and ferocious.”

Barbe is easy to describe, no matter who you ask. He is, “outspoken, hilarious and sarcastic,” according to Anderson.

Lewis added, “he is phenomenal at what he does. He is personable, forceful, funny, sometimes extremely-long-winded, but this is never without an important point.”

Martz, who completed the program, said, “he loves to make students get involved. There is only so much he can teach inside the classroom, which is why he works so hard to immerse everyone in the industry.”

But, placing students in jobs within the music industry upon graduation is not Barbe’s only goal. “I want students to go from ‘who am I?’ to ‘who I am,’” he said. “I want them to realize what they want to do. To find a way to answer the question that is burning in their minds.”



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