Started From The Bottom….

BV Studio

Started from the bottom…The Berklee Valencia record label practicum has been a quite a memorable experience already!  The first few weeks were spent trying to lay the foundation and the groundwork for Berklee Valencia’s budding student record label.  We are the chosen ones to help build this label from the ground up for future students. (No pressure at all!)

Some of our tasks included brainstorming names for the label, and picking our top 12 artists from all of the SoundCloud submissions for the label.  The amount of talent in this school is unmatched and that was visible when listening to the various tracks that were submitted!

The entire class was able to function as the A&R department throughout this process.  It was fun to listen to the submissions and share our thoughts as we collectively compiled our list of artists to interview for the next round.  This wasn’t an easy task for various reasons—obviously the talent pool was one, but the other was identifying the criteria.  What exactly were we looking for? How do we choose our finalists?  What attributes are important? Are we measuring their potential or what they have to offer at the moment?  These were just a few of the baffling questions that we had to sort out amongst a group of 20+ students with a lot of opinions and expertise.

Organization

Organization was the enemy! We clearly had no template to follow and it was up to us to organize most of it.  We realized in retrospect some things that we could’ve done differently to be more effective—but that’s why it’s a practicum.  We’re definitely learning along the way.  The most important thing that is vital for the sustainability of the label is—communication.  We have to learn how to communicate with one another and how to communicate clearly and directly.  Although we may not agree with one another at times, it is always important to respect each other as people at the end of the day.  An issue that arose was in reference to the deadline for students to submit their material.  There could’ve been more clarity such as a specified time instead of just a date because people were still submitting material on the due date after our class was over. To avoid issues like this in the future, we appointed two points of contact in an attempt to prevent any form of miscommunication or confusion about deadlines and interviews.

Vinyl Records Wall

To simply put it—initially it seemed that there were too many chefs in the kitchen (which could have lead to the ultimate recipe for disaster).  It has been a process of collectively learning how to work together (especially when everyone may not be on the same page) and adapt to dealing with various personality types.  Eventually, we were able to format our game plans and and we are continuing to work towards our common goal…the successful creation of a student operated record label. Up next…auditions will be held for the 12 artists that were previously chosen. I’ll update you soon on the rest…

Flashback: 2014 MIDEM Music Conference

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Since my first day at Berklee Valencia, one of the highlights for all of the Global Entertainment & Music Business program Master’s candidates was the prospect of attending the Midem conference.  The annual music conference, Midem was held in Cannes, France from February 1st-February 4th.  This conference was the first official music conference that I’ve ever attended and it was also my first time visiting France.  Overall, these two factors contributed to a valuable and enjoyable experience.

Let’s briefly recap the events:

Initially on the first day I tried to remember all of the useful tips that had been driven and embedded to all of our heads. It could have been overwhelming at first sight—but fortunately I mapped out a game plan in advance and upon my arrival tweaked a few things with the assistance of the “Midem Smartphone App.”  My own personal interests were in the following areas: artist & repertoire field, music publishing, and digital streaming platforms.  I planned to attend events that catered to those specific areas.

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The “Midem Smartphone App” was my best friend over the course of the three-day period that I was in attendance.  It sent reminders/alerts for some of the panels and events, and you could also select your favorite events to add to your own calendar within the app.  This allowed me to use my time efficiently in order to maximize my experience by visiting the different exhibitors and attending the panels that were of interest to me.  Many of the topics related to growth, sustainability and innovation since the theme for this year’s conference was “Get back to Growth? Make it Sustainable.”

“The one peculiar thing that struck a chord within me was the lack of music.  We were at a music conference that didn’t play much music at all.  During the evenings on site there were live shows here and there, but music wasn’t heard throughout the course of the day.  On one occasion there was a brief dance number performed by Brazilian dancers and a few drummers.”

One of the Midem Talks that I highly anticipated on attending featured Lyor Cohen and was moderated by Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records.  I really enjoyed the dialogue between Lyor and Tom.  Although I had been following Lyor’s career for some time, it was awesome to hear him and witness him tell it/re-live those moments firsthand.  It seemed as though two good friends were just catching up on old times.  They discussed Lyor’s journey and briefly scratched the surface of his new venture, 300.

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Another highlight was the Midem Talk with emerging UK artist, Rita Ora.  I was somewhat familiar with her as an artist and I remembered her song “R.I.P” from a few years ago and of her Roc Nation affiliation, but outside of that I didn’t know much about her.  It was enlightening to hear about VEVO’s partnership with her to develop her as an artist while promoting her on their platform. She ended up debuting at #1 on the UK charts with the assistance of this partnership.  This showcased innovative ways of how artists are partnering with brands/platforms to assist in launching their careers.

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Ultimately, I met a lot of wonderful people from across the globe and received and handed out numerous business cards.  I had a few successful meetings with different people from different companies.  It was a realistic portrayal because it wasn’t all glitz and glamour.  Two of my other scheduled meetings were no shows for different reasons (one person sustained an injury and the other forgot about it).  These experiences helped to weed out the people whom I would want to keep in touch with after the conference was over.

It was an amazing networking opportunity, and there are people who I’m already in contact with.  I didn’t enter this conference with the mindset of securing a job, but I knew that I would meet people who could potentially share the knowledge and resources that I’ve been looking for in regards to my career interests.

Record Label Practicum – A l’écoute

This past friday we, as a class of 20 something students, took-on the task of shortlisting some of the applicants to the very first Berklee College of Music Valencia Campus Record Label (buzz-wordly named Disrupcion). The total of applicants neared the 30s, and the number of songs approximated 100, while the time we were given to accomplish the task was of about a couple of hours. So as one can imagine, and as expected, this daunting task proved to be challenging.

I’ll spare you the details but the boiled down summary is that without a concise idea of the sound we are looking for, and with a class composed of music-oriented students with a plethora of diverging musical tastes and listening habits, a show of hands was the most appropriate way of reaching a consensus on talent.

We all pulled through in the end anyway, and came up with an interesting list of 12 artists. In my opinion, the shortlist shows an array of styles that could have been diversified a little more given some of the ridiculously gifted people we are lucky to have on campus, but I’m still thrilled with what we came up with and especially what was achieved as a class – and democracy seems to be the last thing withholding us from behaving like apes, so let’s not give it up for the sake of personal taste. Despite my never-ending scepticism, I have to admit that I’m genuinely quite excited at the idea of being a part of this. Especially given some of the artists that were selected on to the following step.

Next step is the audition process. We have designed a series of questions that we have presented to the artists for them to prepare in advance. We have also requested additional information such as press kits or videos, if available. This way we can have a series of quick ten-minute interviews that should allow us to find the artists we are looking for.

The cynical part of me believes that we should have probably interviewed ourselves first to define what it is that we are looking for (amongst other things). But gut-feeling seems to be the trend (panelists from MIDEM can back me up on this one) so let’s just do it like the big dogs and play it solo within a team.

I leave you with this fine tune that should help you get your day started, if it hasn’t already.