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Berklee graduates are guided for careers as entrepreneurs in the fast changing Music Business. Entrepreneurialism and innovation are fast paced and are the most valuable assets for students to enhance in the competitive music environment. Recently, Berklee has launched a project that will help foster the creation of a new service/project/business that will help some of the major issues revolving around the music industry today.
Music licensing is one of the biggest issues pressing todays music industry. BerkleeICE has recently started an unprecedented partnership, dubbed the Open Music Initiative (OMI). OMI will pair the academy (Berklee, the MIT Media Lab) and consultants (IDEO) with record labels and music services. Some of the services involved with the collaboration include; Universal, Sony, BMG, Warner, Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud, and many others. Their goal is to change the way music creators and rights owners are identified and compensated. BerkleeICE wants to solve the music licensing issue through this partnership.
IDEO, A global design company that helps public and private company’s with their innovation and growth, will help guide the technical platform for the project. In the next few months, OMI will host gatherings and labs. Some of the launch gatherings include one on June 22 in New York City with all OMI participants. One of the events will also include a three-week innovation lab in Boston, run by BerkleeICE with guidance from IDEO. This three week lab will involve choosing participants from current students and recent graduates, in order to create models and explore the project in a deeper way.
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A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being invited to participate in a “Make-A-Thon” audition/interview event hosted by BerkeeIce and IDEO. The event was very different than a normal audition and interview. Out of everyone that applied for the program, 50 were chosen to participate in the audition for the lab in July. Out of the 50 participants of the “Make-A-Thon”, 18 were finally chosen for the official internship lab opportunity.
When I first learned about the program, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew, was that the problem that they are finding a solution for, I have thought about myself in the past. Most interviews last about 15 minutes and you find out a few weeks later. As innovative as BerkleeICE is, their interviews definitely reflect on their character in a very positive way. You’re outcome was not based on a quick 15 minute interview. You are given an entire 8 hour day to show your personality and character. This allowed the IDEO team and the Berklee Faculty to really understand how you work with others. Anyone in an interview can say they work well with other people, but putting those words into actions is a different experience.
The day started at 8:30am. We first received an agenda for the day and got our picture taken. They took our picture so that they could remember who was who while evaluating our progress throughout the day. Next, we were split into groups of 6 and 7. I spent a day with IDEO designers and Berklee faculty as they went through a mock version of what the real innovation experience will be like. After we were put in groups, they gave us time to get to know each other a little bit, but the expert facilitators did not waste any time in starting the day. We were given a brief that we would later try to invent a service or product for. The brief was about trying to find a way to have artists and musicians get compensated for used music sales. For example, if you sell a CD at Newbury Comics how does the original artist get compensated? We spent some time thinking up questions about the questions given to us and figuring out our target audience for the service. Each step was fast paced and we were given 10 – 15 minutes to fill out the packets and answer as our group’s questions.
Next we were actually going out into the public and asking strangers questions about the music industry and how they buy their music. My group went to Newbury Comics and used music stores. We asked these stores about their music sales and how they handle their used music profits. Unfortunately, a lot of the places couldn’t give us some information due to policies, but we were able to find out how much of what each store sells. From there we went back and created a flow chart of our findings, in order to start coming up with ideas to solve the problem.
For the next two and a half hours we actually had to build a service or product that went along with the issues we were finding. My group created a company called Bar Code, which was designed to help artists get compensated for their music under any platform, no matter if the music was sold, used through digital media, or in a physical form. One of our main ideas was for consumers to have the ability to sell their used MP3 files on a used digital music platform. This would allow used digital music to not end up getting deleted. Some of us get our music from our friends for free. This way the consumer gets paid a little money and the artist receives compensation for the used music. This is like the Ebay for digital music. The goal is to lower torrenting by having there be incentives for both parties.
Like a hack-a-thon, the Make-A-Thon was an intense event where we built a product/service, but the tools we used went beyond coding, and software development. It allowed people who are creative to have their ideas come to life, even if they are not a computer coding Wizz. The week proceeding the “Make-A-Thon”, I was invited to participate in the innovation lab this July.