Annual Alumni & Current Student Networking Reception Stirred the Pot

(Graduate Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore in discussion with panelists, from L to R: Kittie Palakovich, Mark Ciampittiello, Adam Parness, Sam Tall. Photo by Chianan Yen courtesy of NYU Steinhardt)

On Friday, February 22nd the NYU Steinhardt Music Business program held its Annual Alumni & Current Student Networking Reception at the Helen & Martin Kimmel Center for University Life. The panel was entitled “Data Privacy and Music Revenue: Can We Afford an Ethical Viewpoint?” and was moderated by Graduate Program Director Dr. Catherine Moore.

This year’s event sought to stir the pot and stray from “safe” topics. For the first time the event centered on a sensitive industry topic – so sensitive that several alumni who were invited to be panelists were not allowed by their companies to speak about it. Another new aspect of this year’s reception was that the undergraduate and graduate programs were both represented as current students sat on the panel alongside alumni. Event coordinator and Music Business professor Shirley Washington expressed that she chose to combine alumni and current students on the panel “as a way to demonstrate an advantage we have as a university, that we can tackle and debate hard things.”

Opening words from Dean Mary Brabeck, Dr. Robert Rowe and various music business faculty gave attendees a look into recent news and accomplishments in the Music Business program. Among them were Undergraduate Program Director Catherine Radbill’s new book, and the publication of this book featuring a chapter on Brazil written by Dr. Sam Howard-Spink. Attendees were then introduced to the panel:

Katherine “Kittie” Palakovich, Esq. (UG ‘03): Director of Business Affairs at Creative License, Inc., the leading independent music licensing and talent procurement agency for brands and advertisers. Prior to Creative License, Kittie held various positions in the music industry including management, radio promotions and business and legal affairs. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Music Business from New York University, Kittie earned her law degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Adam Parness (UG ‘00): Senior Director of Music Licensing at Rhapsody International, Inc. where he manages the company’s agreements and relationships with record labels, music publishers and other licensing entities for the award-winning Rhapsody music subscription service in the United States and the Napster service throughout Europe. Adam is also an accomplished guitarist both on stage and in the recording studio.

Mark Ciampittiello (G ’14): current Music Business graduate student with a B.A. in Communications and Media Studies from Fordham University. Mark has studied audio at New England Institute of Technology and interning in several departments at Atlantic Records, JAMBOX Studios and Cybersound Studios.

Sam Tall (UG ’14): current Music Business undergraduate student and founder of Under the Window, LLC. Sam has signed and produced four commercially released albums, manages the careers of two actively gigging artists and books shows all over the country. He is also employed full-time by Downtown Music, and is a recipient of the 2011 ASCAP Foundation Joan & Irwin Robinson Scholarship.

(The panelists spoke to a full house. Photo by Chianan Yen courtesy of NYU Steinhardt)

The panelists compared the types of data they use at their companies. For Parness at Rhapsody, the focus is more on location and demographic data than user data. Parness reiterated throughout the discussion that Rhapsody has a strict privacy policy and draws the line at “anything that starts to look like an advertisement.” Graduate student Ciampittiello stressed the importance of Facebook aggregation and APIs, as it creates better market segmentation to can be used by artists to build a fan base off of other artists with similar repertoires. Undergraduate entrepreneur Tall agreed, stating that as a manager, the kind of data he looks for is handed to him on Facebook. Specifically, Tall uses age and location demographics to determine where his artists should tour and to make sure that an artist’s lyrical content is in line with the artist’s audience demographic. Graduate alum Kittie Palakovich added prior purchasing data and callback offers as prevalent data being used in the industry today.

Of course, one could always use more data. The panelists named user income brackets, socioeconomic data and users’ favorite forms of delivery as types of data they don’t currently have that, given the access, they would use to better manage artists. Dr. Moore and the panelists discussed where to draw the line between private data and usage data. Upon debating the topic, the panelists were in agreement that giving users the choice to opt in is the key to avoiding data misuse. Tall offered the opinion that there is a “wave of paranoia” around user data that can only be solved through a joint effort: while companies need to make their privacy statements and terms of use more explicit, clear and understandable, “people need to stop being paranoid.”

(Front Row: Grad faculty member Judy Tint; Dr. Catherine Moore, Palakovich, Grad/Undergrad faculty member Shirley Washington; Back Row: Ciampittiello, Tall, Dr. Rowe, Parness, Dean Brabeck, Undergrad faculty member Larry Miller. Photo by Chianan Yen courtesy of NYU Steinhardt)

The key takeaways from the discussion were the subject of opting in (“as long as users know it’s happening, it’s fine”) and the importance of data as a whole. Parness advised, “If you’re a startup, you should be concerned about it from day one” while Palakovich added, “All data is important.” Following audience questions, the discussion concluded and panelists, alumni and current students networked over dessert.

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