Application Requirements

Are you a self-starter? Are you a forward-thinking leader? Do you have a deep intellectual curiosity? Do you thrive on collaboration?

At the Clive Davis Institute, we develop music business professionals — as record company executives, artist managers, and booking agents; producers and engineers; songwriters and performers; journalists and publicists; start-up tech founders and creators of socially-minded non-profit organizations. But very often in today’s music industry, our students and graduates work as more than one of the above.

What all these callings require is an open mind and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that is what we both look for and cultivate at the Clive Davis Institute through a rigorous six-point curriculum of business, history & writing, production, performance & musicianship, global study, and liberal arts. At Clive, every student will learn to create compelling recordings in the studio. Every student will study history and practice powerful writing. Every student will learn the business and plan a business project. Every student will study music theory and songwriting. Every student will study abroad, either in our Clive Davis Institute x Berlin program or another approved NYU site. And every student will take courses in the social and natural sciences and humanities. The product of our four-year program are creative music entrepreneurs who have not just refined their talents but expanded their abilities, and who are curious and well-studied, self-motivated and tenacious, collaborative and flexible. It helps, however, to already be en route to that destination.

Creative Portfolio Submission

There are two required steps to successfully complete your application for admission:

  1. Complete the Common App - with the NYU Supplement - and submit to Undergraduate Admissions (this academic requirement is different for NYU internal transfers).

  2. Prepare a creative portfolio and submit via Slideroom (you will be charged a $10 fee to use this service, payable with credit or debit card).

You must clearly label and upload the following Creative Portfolio components to Slideroom:

In preparing your creative portfolio, please note that you do not necessarily need to have experience in the music industry, nor do you need to have access to resources, to demonstrate your vision, creativity and intellectual curiosity, and your potential for success in the music industry.

Statement of Intent

Keeping in mind the crucial information above, in this two-page essay, tell us why you are a good fit for the Clive Davis Institute. A strong essay might include a bit of your personal story; a description of the kinds of skills you possess or have the potential to develop that will allow you to succeed at the Institute and in the music industry; experiences you may have had that illustrate those skills; the courses of study you are interested in taking at the Institute that fall outside your current focus or strength; and how you expect to contribute to the community and the culture of the Clive Davis Institute.
2 pages, double-spaced, .pdf format

Creative Sample

Present a five-minute sample of your best creative work to date. You have five minutes of our attention, so please carefully curate the use of that time. Your submission may be one, unified sample, or multiple samples that together total five minutes of review. Your sample could include audio, video, a sample of articles you’ve written or published, a business plan you’d like to implement, designs for a home studio, flyers or promotional materials you’ve designed, evidence of live event production, evidence of experience with new media or online entrepreneurship, films you’ve scored, etc. For video, you may speak to the camera, narrate, and/or use screen text to convey facts or context or details for the creative work.
5 minutes

Some important tips:

The creative sample should align with the skills you’ve described on your application. For example, if you are an aspiring songwriter, your sample should highlight your songwriting rather than being a series of clips of you performing mostly other people’s songs. If you are an aspiring music executive, performance is less important than giving us a glimpse into shows you’ve promoted and bands you’ve managed.

You must be the primary contributor to or creator of the work. Collaboration is permitted, but your sample must show clear evidence of your contributions. For performers, if you’re applying with heavily produced songs that feature your voice we'd like to hear you without those production elements. This may be as simple as you sitting in front of your computer camera and performing for 30-90 seconds. Work that involves sampling or previously copyrighted material may be submitted only if your creativity is displayed through the use of the sampled material.

Aim to balance breadth and depth. How much of your work should you include in your sample? On one hand, one piece is sometimes not enough to show us that you have created or are capable of creating a body of work. On the other hand, we want to hear enough of the pieces you do submit to assess their quality. So attempt to strike a balance. If you are a performer, songwriter, or producer, we might need to hear more of some songs and less of others. Use your best judgement in service of showing us that you create with quality and also that you have been and are committed to creating with consistency.

Show your entrepreneurship. How have you taken your talents and aspirations into the outside world? How are you an active participant in the business of you? If you are a performer, for example, where have you performed? If you are a producer or songwriter, what have you done with those songs after you’ve completed them? 

Avoid the common cliches that we often see in creative samples. These include footage of childhood performances — cute, but superfluous unless it demonstrates truly exceptional skills; or general declarations about music being a crucial part of your life — we already know. Don’t waste precious time. Focus instead on giving us what is uniquely you, in the present. Please do not use previous student samples as a guideline as our requirements change from year to year.

Detailed Written Statement about the creative sample

Write one page or less detailing how you created the work contained in your creative sample. For each individual piece, identify the full extent of your creative involvement, and, if necessary, all credits due to other contributors. You must provide, as applicable, the name of the composition, composer, producer, engineer, mixer, arranger, programmer, location of recording, date of recording, full list of performers, and software used.
1 page or less, double-spaced, .pdf format


Detailed Video Statement about you

Talk to us for two minutes about what is important to you outside of music. Using a computer webcam or mobile camera to record yourself, share what you are curious about, and why is Clive the place for you to explore that curiosity?
2 minutes


Critical Essay

At the Clive Davis Institute, you will be spending three to four years as a scholar taking a wide range of liberal arts classes, not just as a professional practitioner and entrepreneur-in-training. Reading and writing is thus an integral part of our program. With that in mind, choose a book (fiction or non-fiction) you’ve read in the past five years and explain the importance, distinctiveness, resonance, or relevance of its ideas, or the brilliance of its craft, in a two-page essay.

For example, a student might write about how Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities changed the way that we think about urban places, or about The Autobiography of Malcolm X in relationship to the current Black Lives Matter movement. Our preference is that you write about a book; we are looking for you to share your intellectual life. But if you feel compelled to write about another kind of work — a film, a record album — we will read it. Consider that the work you choose, whether book or something else, should reflect the seriousness of your thinking; and that your critical essay should focus on the work itself, not about you or your relationship to it.
2 pages, double-spaced, .pdf format


Create a list of ten songs that best illustrate who you are as a creative person and a music fan. Paste a link to a customized playlist via any suitable streaming service (i.e. Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, etc.) of your choosing. Include a paragraph about why you picked the material you did.
1 link & 1 paragraph, double-spaced, .pdf format

Artistic Resume

Please identify your previous artistic and entrepreneurial experience. Experiences may include promotional activities, jobs and internships, volunteer work experience, extra-curricular activities and school leadership positions, musical skills, church choir, school chorus, band involvement, and amateur or professional performances. It may also include formal training on an instrument, voice training, technology (such as MIDI), or technical skills in music performance and recording, such as arranging and composition, DJ-ing, and producing. Please include instructors, courses taken, and the duration of study or engagement.
1-2 pages, double-spaced, .pdf format


The Clive Davis Institute Slideroom application becomes available for Fall 2020 applicants on September 1. Once the application is live, you are invited to register and upload your Creative Portfolio until the deadline. Once you’ve registered, you may step away and come back at any time until the final deadline. Once you click submit, you may no longer edit your creative portfolio.

Please note that for artistic programs such as those at Tisch, NYU requests that you submit your Common Application one month before the deadline.  While we do not recommend waiting till the last minute, there is no penalty to your application so long as you submit your materials before the deadlines below. 

  • Early Decision I - due November 1
  • Early Decision II - due January 1
  • Regular Decision - due January 5
  • Internal Transfer - due March 1
  • External Transfer - due April 1
"Our students have boundless amounts of musical creativity, business acumen and are technologically savvy. In recruiting students for the Clive Davis Institute, we look for applicants who are driven, passionate, forward-thinking, self-motivated and well-rounded. Like the great music moguls past and present, our students must have a strong sense of self and a creative ability to imagine how they might one day transform the music industry for the better."
– Jason King, Associate Professor