Creativity and Innovation Converge at Inaugural Music Business & Technology Innovation Day

(Caitlin Came and Sheng Feng Hu present Gymaestro, a service that lets users explore music via customizable workout playlists.)

On Friday, October 28, Steinhardt held the inaugural Music Business and Technology Innovation Day, organized by MUSB Program Director Catherine Radbill and Music Technology Professor Juan Bello. Undergraduate seniors and graduate students from Professor Radbill’s Entrepreneurship for the Music Industry class teamed up with Graduate and Doctoral students from Professor Bello’s music technology class to build great ideas for a new technology-based music product or service. “The music technology students provided the underlying tech and the music business students worked to figure out how to market and make money on the product or service, in the form of a business plan,” explains Professor Radbill. The judging panel consisted of Professor Radbill and Professor Bello, in addition to special guest panelist Alex White, Co-Founder and CEO of Next Big Sound.

The event opened with an inspirational talk by White. Each group of students was given five minutes to present their slideshow to the panel as well as an audience. The presentations included a description of the service, a sample of the interface and an explanation of their audiences and marketing plans. Group members also examined pre-existing products or services similar to their own, but distinguished why their own product or service was different and better. Students were given feedback from the judges on their presentation skills in addition to their products. Audience members also asked questions and gave suggestions.

(From left: MUSB Program Director Catherine Radbill, Music Technology Professor Juan Bello, Co-Founder and CEO of Next Big Sound Alex White.)

The ideas presented included Audiopilot (a plug-in used to find optimum locations for song transitions in a playlist, eliminating bad transitions or silence between songs), Composination (a songwriting tool that suggests chord progressions to accompany a melody), and Atlas (a tempo and meter map generator for audio inputs).

Since Innovation Day the students have been incorporating the panelists’ feedback in refining their projects, and have also had more pitching practice in class. “In a recent Entrepreneurship class, groups worked with students who are not involved in Innovation Day to discuss their branding, marketing and positioning statements,” said Radbill.

Final presentations of the business plans take place on Monday, December 12 and Wednesday, December 14. On December 12, three of the groups will be pitching to Chris Fralac, a venture capital executive from First Round Capital.

CMJ 2011: Students review live shows in 35 words or less

VELOCITY knows that students are pressed for time, especially during CMJ week. So we asked them to review CMJ live shows in 35 words or less. “Why 35?”, you ask. Because we are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year!


(We Are Scientists at the Studio at Webster Hall for CMJ 2011 on Wednesday, October 20.)

Artist: Cerebral Ballzy

Date: Tuesday, October 18

Venue: Music Hall of Williamsburg

“Hardcore band out of Brooklyn. Easily one of the most brutal shows I’ve ever witnessed. Now I know what I was missing when I wasn’t yet around for early eighties SoCal skate punk.” – Jason Burger (G ’12)

“One can liken the experience of seeing Cerebral Ballzy to being struck in the face by a sock full of nickels then hypnotized and forced to dance. It rules.” – Jack Schramm (UG ’14)

Artist: Thomas Wynn and the Believers

Date: Tuesday, October 18

Venue: Kenny’s Castaway

“Thomas Wynn and the Believers had a folk rock singer-songwriter feel, almost like Dylan but with better vocals. Their harmonies were absolutely amazing.” – Anonymous

Artist: Locksley

Date: Wednesday, October 19

Venue: Rockwood Music Hall

“Amazingly refreshing retro rockers. They dub themselves “doo wop punk” and look and sound like they should play a 1950s high school prom. Try even listening to this band and not smiling.” – Jason Burger (G ’12)

Artists: The Postelles, The Wombats

Date: Wednesday, October 19

Venue: Webster hall

“Everybody take a deep breath…

This is the must see show on my list.

Even 30 minute shows can greater than the Rock Records show.

I felt the floor is about to collapse.” – Cecilia Lin (G ’13)


(The Damn Personals at the Studio at Webster Hall for CMJ 2011 on Wednesday, October 20.)

Artists: Alberta Cross, Portugal. The Man, Givers

Date: Thursday, October 20

Venue: Terminal 5

“I saw Alberta Cross, Portugal. The Man, and Givers on Thursday night of CMJ week with some friends at Terminal 5 and it was the best concert I’ve seen in a long time. It was the kind of show that makes you think, ‘Yep, I’m in the right major.'” – Emily Garibaldi (UG ’15)

Portugal. The Man played a great set, including all their hit songs. They played for an hour and a half, and had cello and violin players. On stage there were bubble lamps that changed colors.” – Anonymous

“Givers were awesome. Their great vocals stood out to me. The songs were dance-y and sometimes I’d hear a hint of reggaeton and electronic music mixed in.” – Anonymous

Artist: Chappo

Date: Thursday, October 20

Venue: Spike Hill

“This Brooklyn garage-pop band had tons of energy. They were really engaging and even threw confetti on the crowd. They also wore feathers – one of the many high points of their performance.” – Brady Willis (UG ’13)

Artist: Hey Marseilles

Date: Saturday, October 22

Venue: Living Room

“Hey Marseilles is an exciting folk/alternative/symphonic band from Seattle. Their lead singer’s voice was very strong, earnest and passionate. Their instrumentation was vast, pulling out accordions, banjoes, cellos, violins, and so much more.” – Eric Meyers (UG ’12)

Artist: The Bright Light Social Hour

Date: Saturday, October 22

Venue: Mercury Lounge

“The Bright Light Social Hour, looking straight from the ’70s, made even the most snobbish hipsters go nuts. One of the best new bands, whether you want to dance, sway, or just listen in awe.” – Sam Tall (UG ’14)

Graduate A&R Seminar Students Attend Broke* Screening at CMJ


(From left: MUSB Alum Ian Quay, MUBG Alum Danara Schurch, MUBG Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore, Director of Broke* Will Gray; Photo Credit: Katy Vickers.)

On Wednesday, October 19, students from this semester’s Graduate A&R Seminar attended a screening of music documentary Broke* at CMJ 2011. Broke*, directed by independent artist Will Gray, features MUBG Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore, along with Ian Quay (UG ’04) and Danara Schurch (G ’07).

Broke* follows Gray through the recording and release of his debut album. The 78-minute documentary also chronicles the stories of artists and executives searching for ways to thrive in the face of today’s music industry challenges. Such industry superstars as John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Isaac Slade from The Fray share their stories, giving a look into the A&R talent-spotting process from the artist’s point of view.

The CMJ screening was Broke*‘s NYC debut. “It was fun to sit beside Danara at the screening. We got everyone together afterwards so that Ian and Danara could meet the class and talk about lots of things — mostly music, of course!” says Dr. Moore. Schurch, who was very involved in the production of Broke*, introduced Dr. Moore to director Will Gray about four years ago. Ian Quay currently does A&R here in New York City, and was recently featured in an article by Billboard magazine (read the article here).

In the A&R class the next week, the students talked about Broke* and discussed what they learned. “Students commented on — and debated — Will Gray’s career choices, and we talked about the differences between music publishing A&R and record label A&R. Students pointed out advantages and disadvantages of being an artist fluent in many musical styles, and our never-ending debate about cover songs continued with thoughts on Will’s performance of Patty Griffin’s ‘Top of the World’,” says Dr. Moore.

The name Broke* has multiple meanings, such as how to break an artist and how to fix a broken industry. As for the asterisk in the documentary’s title, the Broke* website offers this inspiring explanation:

“Why the Asterisk? In Latin, the word asterisk (asteriscus) means ‘little star.’ We use it in everyday English to note that a word or phrase possesses a special character or to indicate that something has been omitted. The Broke* team adopted the asterisk as a part of our logo to symbolize hope. The logo is a reminder that we all hold within us a special character that enables us to break through the barriers of life and become stars, become champions, become the exception to the rules we’ve always been told to obey. Though you may have been omitted or forgotten, though doubters deny your potential to achieve what they deem impossible, you can use this logo as a badge of courage. Let it embolden you. There are others, like you, fighting for their dreams . . . for their chance to break*.”

Once Broke* has completed the festival circuit it will be available as a DVD and also online.