Student Outlook: To Get More Superfans, “Game On”

Guest post by Alec Steinfeld (UG ’13). We encourage feedback and commentary on all Student Outlook contributions. Leave a comment below or tweet us at @NYUMusicBiz

As I drive down the Miami shoreline, the car’s engine howls as it shifts into top gear. The wind gushes in my face, and I’m having a blast. One of my favorite songs plays on the radio, Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” Then, I run over a crowd of people.

This scenario didn’t happen in real life. Instead, the experience was a fantasy played out in the Rockstar videogame “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.” I played this game when I was a kid and, despite the risque subject matter, acquired lasting memories of my virtual experience. Amazingly though, what has continued to stick with me after all these years has not been the gameplay itself, but rather the lasting connection I made with the game’s musical soundtrack.

The game was a period piece in a sense. The setting was Miami’s glitzy and drugged out heyday in the 1980s. The music reflected this context and played a variety of hits from the era. I grew to really enjoy this soundtrack. However, I now realize my liking of these songs would not have come to be had I heard them independent of another medium. The game told a powerful story providing the context for the music to connect on a personal level.

The put this into context for those who have little experience with video games, think back to your favorite movie. Now, think of the most exciting, emotionally charged scene in this film. Most likely, this moment had a musical soundtrack driving the emotional direction of the scene. And, most likely, you remember the music playing during this moment.

Now think, in a world where the average person is bombarded with information, including music from a variety from a variety of other competing artists, keeping your (at the very least recorded) music memorable now takes more effort or creativity. Studies have shown humans process information visually at a much higher rate than any other external medium. This is the reason why info graphics online are much more effective delivering and inevitably retaining information in the human mind. Now, combine this medium within a visual and interactive context. These findings lead to a time tested and not remarkably novel conclusion: music plus visuals leads to a lasting impression.

Surprisingly enough, the music industry has yet to grasp the resonate power games can make on fans and consumers. While television and movies combine music with a visual medium, video games adds another further solidifying variable: interactivity. The plasticity of and control over a game’s design also leads to benefits over previously used combined mediums. Whereas there are complicated human elements to creating movies and even music videos, game designers can tailor and experience specifically for musical content and vice versa. As a result, we obtain a visceral experience that connects with fans.

Now that we understand the benefits games have when interacting with fans, here are a few pointers to keep in mind before making that call to Xbox.

The Material Must Speak for Itself

While the dissemination of technology has made producing a record easier than ever, and in turn creating a need to find ways to “rise above the noise,” the same has happened within the gaming industry. Finding a designer for your game can now be much cheaper and even decent on a relatively small budget. However, this means the consumers of games have myriad options to choose of all the games out there.

Here we have a catch-22. While the hope for aligning your music to games attempts to rise above te noise, the game will have to do the same among others in the competing marketplace. So, before you make an investment or spend the effort pitching your music to game companies, remember that the game will also have to be memorable for your music to be memorable. Or even worse, your game may even be associated with a bad experience.

(A screenshot from "Skrillex Quest")

A Catalyst: From Fan to Superfan

After years of tinkering, artists have finally figured out how to reach as many people as possible through online tools. With email lists, promoted posts, Twitter feeds, Tumblrs and Kickstarters, bands have the greatest number of tools they have ever had in being able to reach out to fans and non-fans alike. Yet, bands have yet to fully utilize tools that foster fan engagement and in turn retention.

Superfans hold the key to a band’s financial success. After bands acquire interested users – by playing shows, streaming their album on blogs, promoting their material on the social web – their extended success, at least in monetary terms, rests extensively on engaging in interactive platforms (akin to the 80-20 rule). Games hold just one answer to this question, and if handled well, can pay extended dividends.

But again, your game cannot just be another touch point to cast a super wide net for your fan base. Remember the goal: engagement. In order to engage, you must have a strong comprehension of who is in your fan base. Do your due diligence on who has shown to conntect personally with your music. Ask: why did they experience this connection? Answering this question will provide the grounds as to how you and your band would like to move forward.

Player 1 Press Start

Some artists have already taken this initiative. Take electronic dance music artist Skrillex. He recently releases Skrillex Quest (, a free online game with the backing of the artist’s electronic dance motifs. The game does a great job of integrating story, gameplay, and the music of an artist.

Online platforms present numerous paths to connect with fans on a personal level, and gaming could lead the way. Keep on the lookout for more music-inspired games in the near future.

A Gangnam Style World

Guest post by Emma Miller (UG ’16)

The day Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was uploaded to YouTube was average at best. I watched it with a confused expression, laughed a bit, then talked briefly with some of my k-pop friends who all made remarks like “lol, wtf just happened?” and “I swear I’ll never understand k-pop.” The rest of July passed, more k-pop videos were released, and “Gangnam Style” left the front of my mind. As August arrived and I finished the eleventh draft of my “NYU Freshman Packing List of Awesome,” Allkpop – an American-based k-pop news site – announced that Psy would be flying to the US to have a meeting with “Justin Bieber’s agency.” We all know what happened next.

Psy would not be the first artist to travel out west in search of a deal, but Psy was definitely the most unexpected. Over the years there have been many attempts to make k-pop big in America. Top solo artists like BoA and Se7en along with groups like the Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation made valiant attempts with English lyrics, slick dance moves, and good looks yet some gave up and went back east while others continue to try to slowly grow their American fan base. Psy accomplished a decades’ worth of work in just over four minutes.

The past few years have witnessed the rapid growth in popularity of both k-pop and k-dramas (Korean dramas) in what many call “Hallyu” or “the Korean Wave.” Outside of Asia, Hallyu’s influence can be seen in South America with k-dramas airing on TV, k-pop being played in public areas, and unofficial fan clubs gaining numbers that make North American fans jealous. K-pop has also been gaining popularity in Europe with SM Town (a large-scale concert featuring all pop groups under the company SM Entertainment) selling out Le Zenith de Paris in fifteen minutes last year. A second date was made at the same venue after European fans organized a flash mob asking for one more additional concert.

Even before Psy, k-pop was not completely unknown in the United States. Here we have seen a large amount of k-pop become available on iTunes within hours of its release in Korea, when in 2008 you’d be lucky to find anything at all. Hulu and Netflix have also started carrying k-dramas and movies; many of them are even recent. YouTube created an official k-pop channel, MNet (a Korean TV channel) launched MNet America, MTV K was created, the Wonder Girls starred in a movie on Teen Nick, and fans have come to expect at least one or two concerts to happen in NYC and LA every year when in 2009 we thought the ones who reached our shores would never come again. Shortly after SM Town Paris, SM Town also came to the US to perform a sold out show in Madison Square Garden just after GIrls’ Generation released the English version of “The Boys.” Before “Gangnam Style,” Girls’ Generation held the title of “most viewed k-pop video on YouTube” with “Gee.” Since that small feat, “Gangnam Style” has gone on to be the most viewed YouTube video of all time.

More recently, JYJ member Kim Junsu performed at the Hammerstein Ballroom in August, 2NE1 performed at the Prudential Center in October, Big Bang performed two shows (an additional one was added after tickets sold out in around two hours) also at the Prudential Center in November, the New York K-pop Festival was held in Skirball during Welcome Week, and multiple “Gangnam Style” flash mobs have been held throughout the city. On November 29th, the TV show Glee even had a k-pop episode featuring “Gangnam Style.” “Fantastic Baby” by Big Bang was also shortly featured, further introducing more k-pop songs to the general American audience. It is an exciting time to be a k-pop fan living in New York City but the rest of the world may be wondering, “what happens after Gangnam Style?”

Psy is not scheduled to release a new song until 2013 and all stateside k-pop events have wound down as Korea launches into its 2012 award show season. They say this has been the biggest year for k-pop yet but the post-Gangnam Style world will hopefully be overflowing with more worldwide k-pop hits. The MNet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) aired on November 30th from Hong Kong outlining just how many good things are happening in the current k-pop scene. Here are some of the winners:

Artist of the Year: Big Bang

Song of the Year: Gangnam Style

Album of the Year: Super Junior – Sexy, Free and Single

Best Male Group: Big Bang

Best Female Group: SISTAR

Best Rap Performance: Epik High – “Up”

The entire list can be found here.

Until next time, keep an eye on k-pop!

Study Abroad Report: Prague

Guest post by Brittany Holloway (UG ’14)

As a student contemplating whether or not studying abroad was the right choice for me, my biggest concern was whether or not I would be able to take classes that would count towards my degree requirements. The options that the NYU Prague study abroad site provides Music Business students with quickly eased my worries and my reaction was immediate: I couldn’t miss this opportunity!

Once I had sorted out which classes I would take during my semester abroad, I became curious as to what roles music and the music business as a whole would play in my experiences. My first realization upon arrival in Europe was that the relationship I have with the music industry would not be negatively affected by my relocation; I still check all of the same websites and blogs as I did back home to stay up to date but furthermore, my opinions and knowledge of the industry on the international scale have expanded. Five MUSB students, including myself, are in Prague this semester and I can proudly say that we have continued to help the live sector of the music industry thrive. The artists we have seen perform in Europe span from The Tallest Man On Earth and Japandroids to the Berlin Philharmonic, with everything in between.

(From L to R: Lauren Fior, Grace Harris, Brittany Holloway, Sarah Cowell, Camille Johnston)

The close-knit nature of the MUSB program has followed us across the Atlantic, displayed clearly by our choice to spend part of the Fall Break together in Amsterdam! The friendships I have made as well as the ones I have strengthened will act as just one of the many things I will be bringing back with me to New York. In regards to the events I have experienced and the newfound perspective I have, I cannot wait to see the long-term benefits to both my personal and professional life. Until then, Na Shledanou! (Goodbye in Czech.)

MUSB Freshman Raises $1 Million: Her Startup Stores Passwords in the Cloud

Stacey.jpgStacey Ferreira (UG ’15) had always been fascinated with business and technology. From a young age, as she would pretend to own her own restaurant in her living room, it was clear that entrepreneurship was in Ferreira’s future. Last summer, when she raised $1 million in venture capital for her startup MySocialCloud, it became clear that Ferreira had indeed become a successful entrepreneur.

“I had been dabbling in code for a couple of years when the idea really started” says Ferreira. During her senior year of high school, her brother’s computer died, taking with it an Excel spreadsheet of his various passwords. It was frustrating that he was unable to access his email or Facebook because he could not remember all of the different passwords. The two siblings decided then and there to create a service that stores all of that information in the cloud, making it accessible from any computer. On May 26, 2011, after a period of trial and error, Ferreira, her brother and their team created MySocialCloud.

Ferreira says that finding a great team was the biggest challenge when first starting out, and that it was difficult to find reliable yet passionate and visionary people. “But probability says that if you look for great people over a certain amount of time, you’re bound to find people that work – in the past couple of months, we’ve been extremely lucky!” Now that MySocialCloud is up and running, Ferreira’s biggest challenge is finding a way to balance the excitement and work that comes along with a startup, a social life and attending class with her completed homework in hand. So how does she balance it all? “Plain and simple, I love what I’m doing. I love the possibilities with MySocialCloud and seeing people get excited about using it, and I love Music Business.”

Though still in beta testing, MySocialCloud has developed into more than just a storage site for usernames and passwords. “MySocialCloud is all about sharing websites that you love with your friends and being able to access them easily and securely through our one-click login.” On Friday, February 10, the new MySocialCloud will launch – “with an awesome design” – through invites only. “From our launch we’re hoping that people will give us constructive criticism about the website and use that to keep making it even more awesome” says Ferreira.

To students aspiring to be entrepreneurs, Ferreira says this: “If you want to do something and have a passion for it, do it. Don’t wait until you’re done with school. A college degree can be a safety net; it doesn’t have to be the one defining factor of the rest of your life. I’ve found that you find time for the things you’re really passionate about, and everything else pretty much gets postponed. The most rewarding thing about MySocialCloud is definitely the people I’ve been able to meet through the process. Everyone has something to share and something to learn from – so just listening to them and soaking up knowledge is more than I could ever had asked for.”

Get connected with MySocialCloud on Facebook and Twitter.

Students Awarded ASCAP Foundation Scholarships


(Tall (left) and Ching with their awards. Photo courtesy of Shane Ching.)

On Wednesday, December 7, Sam Tall (UG ’14) and Shane Ching (G ’13) attended the 16th Annual ASCAP Foundation Awards. The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs.

Tall was awarded The ASCAP Foundation Joan and Irwin Robinson Scholarship, established to support a New York University music business undergraduate or graduate student demontrating leadership, knowledge, dedication, skill and career potential.

Ching was awarded The ASCAP Foundation Freddy Bienstock Scholarship and Internship, which provides the opportunity for a music business student interested in music publishing to intern at a major publishing company.

Click here for a complete list of award recipients and coverage of the event.

Senior Spotlight: Willie Perliter

Welcome to our new feature, Senior Spotlight, a suggestion of Eric Meyers, MUSB Senior and President of NYU MEISA. Every so often we will be featuring a different Music Business senior. Our first spotlight is on Willie Perliter, originally from Los Angeles. He is a lover of ’50s lo-fi music and has some pretty cool goals for the future. Check out the interview:

What is your musical background?

I started with the violin when I was 6 or 7, but wasn’t into the string instruments so I quickly moved to piano. And I was privileged, in some sense, that my teacher started teaching me right away with jazz and blues. So I never really had classical training, which now I’m kind of bummed about, but it was fun at the time. I think the 8th grade was when I wanted to be involved with the music business from a more production/creative side. I was in some bands in high school but soon realized that my abilities as a creative person would only go so far, and I wanted to help people who could do better than me.

What has been your favorite NYU Music Business class and why?

I really like Professor Howard-Spink’s classes, so I’ll say Music in the Media Business. I really like expanding my mind on what’s happening today. Whereas most of the music industry classes are maybe 90% history and 10% what we’re doing today, going into Professor Howard-Spink’s class it was all about, “the history is dead, we need to learn how to deal with the models now,” and it was really cool to explore that. But you do need the basis of history to set your argument, especially when you’re arguing with people who are much older than you and much more experienced in that world.

What is your favorite genre of music, and who are some of your favorite artists?

In general I can always dig jazz music. As far as favorite artist, of course I have the cliche Radiohead but I’ve also been really into ’50s and ’60s lo-fi rock as well as some Motown and soul. Through music theory I have grown to appreciate classical music as well as certain far out 20th century composers like Philip Glass. 

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure, but most of my music discovery started from watching The. O.C. My roommates and I have also been in a huge kick of ’90s music. We just rocked out to Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week.”

Do you have any funny or scary internship stories?

At my preview internship at MPL Communications, Inc., I had the privilege of seeing Paul McCartney perform at the Apollo and then meet him, but the most important moment I got out of that internship, and all of my internships, was meeting with the Eastman Lawyers who run the company. I originally wanted to meet with just one of them to discuss copyright law, articles, etc., so I sent his assistant an email asking if we could meet and she ended up setting up a meeting with both of the Eastmans. They absolutely blew my mind and gave me amazing advice.

What are some of your career goals? Ultimate dream job?

At this point (and it changes monthly, weekly and daily) I want to do music supervision. But I feel like that won’t fully sustain me economically so I have also been really interested in mobile music in developing countries, based off one of the CMJ panels. Up until CMJ I was pretty committed to being in New York, but now I’m much more open to going abroad and working, especially in an emerging market like India, China or Africa. I want to be more focused on infrastructure and dealing with the changes in infrastructure in the digital age. I like the bigger picture.

I think ultimately I would love to be a music consultant. Someone who artists or business people come to for advice on strategic development and adapting to the constantly changing industry; just a well-rounded person in that regard. But unfortunately that requires a lot of experience, and I don’t even know if it exists as a job.

What are your short-term goals?

As I begin senior year it gets a little scary because I know I should be trying to pursue jobs, but there are too many things I want to do. I have already been working with some friends, as a music supervisor, who are attempting to break into the entertainment industry and if any of them have success I would love to continue working for them. But right now one place that really interests me is The Orchard, because 1) they deal with infrastructure, not with artists and 2) they’re really involved in emerging markets, mobile music and entering developing countries; I think they’re on top of it because that’s where the future seems to be.

Do you have any advice to underclassmen?

1. Meet as many people as possible and on top of that, make them have a reason to want to remember you. I have a lot of opinions about things in the industry and I’m very expressive, and I know that I’m young and my inexperienced opinions are probably not right, but the fact that I show passion and interest in it toward people, I’ve noticed, has been a beneficial thing. If you have any ideas or feel that something could be a different way, just be proactive and go for it. For example, I once met the Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy and I wrote him this whole model for Pandora to work as a subscription-based model and this whole thing with buying playlists as opposed to albums. Obviously it was far out. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with it, but he responded really well with an email saying, “It’s a great idea, but here are the problems.” At the end of the day I got on his radar, whether it was a blip or not, and that can be a beneficial thing in the future.

2. Respond to emails. If you’re going to email someone, just write it. There are so many more opportunities I could’ve pursued but I was just lazy about actually spending three minutes of my life to write an email, whereas it took like a month to actually get myself down to do it. It shows a lot about yourself and it can only be a hindrance if you stall.

At the end of the day, the music industry is an awesome industry and there are cool people and creative people. It’s awesome realizing as I get older and really try to get myself in the industry, just going to concerts and hanging out and talking to musicians, it’s my business too. That’s cool. We just happen to fall into an industry where we do what we love but we also happen to make money.

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.

Music Business Students Participate in Bon Jovi College Experience

(Bon Jovi performs at Madison Square Garden; Photo by Jason Bookman)

On Saturday, March 5, Bon Jovi’s Live 2011 Tour brought the band to New York City’s Madison Square Garden.  Over the course of the tour, the band and its crew have been giving back to college students across the country by giving them the opportunity to participate in the Bon Jovi College Experience, a behind-the-scenes look into the production of an arena concert. 

Nine students representing both the Undergraduate and Graduate Music Business Programs arrived at Madison Square Garden at 10:30 AM, just as Bon Jovi’s crew was beginning to load in.  Organizing the afternoon was Mike Savas, Bon Jovi’s VIP Coordinator for the tour.  Mr. Savas led the students through both the basics of the concert production and the specifics of his job, which focus on VIP ticketing, packages, and treatment.  Over the course of the afternoon, the students got a hands-on look into the various components of Bon Jovi’s backstage area, including Jon Bon Jovi’s dressing room, guitarist Richie Sambora’s extensive guitar rig, the tour’s robot-controlled high-definition video monitors, and the Garden’s massive audio system.

(3,500 lb modular video monitors, rotating lights, and some of Sambora’s guitars; Photo by Jason Bookman)

As part of their time with both local crewmembers and Bon Jovi’s own production team, the students prepared exclusive packages for the show’s VIP ticket holders.  Included in the $1,500 packages are the fans’ front-row folding chairs autographed by Jon Bon Jovi, autographed posters from the band, and a private dinner before the show.  These packages are an extremely important aspect of the show as they not only create a unique experience for the fans, but are also highly lucrative.  The group also handed out promotional cards with online merchandise discounts and flyers for Jon Bon Jovi’s charities.

After the concert, the students were asked to report in on their experiences, and with that VeloCity brings excerpts from their reactions below:

“[From this experience] I learned the great importance of merch-marketing and analytics. The discount cards were in the process of being modified to generate the most website visits possible, and the signed lithographs were an example of a relatively cheaply produced item that could be sold as a high-priced collectible which would spur the fan to tell friends about the concert experience. I later visited the Bon Jovi Facebook page, which was unsurprisingly covered with Savas-esque updates and interactive material. Seeing this gave me several ideas for how to promote my own band.” – S.T. (UG ’14)

The Bon Jovi experience was unlike any other experience I’ve had. It’s one thing to watch a major concert performance and to read about the behind-the-scenes action, but to actually watch the show come together live, to actually stand on the stage, is a whole new, sensory experience atypical of the classroom… I definitely think that this opportunity was publicity driven. The primary focus of our conversations with Mike Savas was on the topic of making an artist money through touring, and how best to capitalize on and grow their fans. I definitely think that we were a part of that plan. Based on the demographic of Bon Jovi fans that day, college students are not among the most populous group of Bon Jovi fans. Simply inviting a select number of students automatically increases brand awareness. For one, this makes Bon Jovi look like a band giving back to the community and two, college students are known for their interaction with social networking and Bon Jovi can count on at least some publicity from those students attending.” – M.F. (UG ’13)

(Each of the set’s 5 LCD monitors is controlled by a 6,000 lb robot; Photo by Jason Bookman)

“I believe that Bon Jovi’s management wanted to get students to experience this for two main reasons: 1) they genuinely want students to learn about this aspect of the business, and 2) because it would provide some great publicity for their tour. Each person seemed excited to share their knowledge about concert management, including their personal experiences of how they began in the industry.  They even gave us advice about how to enter the business ourselves… I also believe they wanted to do this Bon Jovi classroom experience, because it would also provide additional publicity for their tour.  Having a group of students writing about their backstage tour experience in school newspapers, college radio stations, and personal blogs would increase the amount of press coverage for the tour.” – M.C. (G ’11)

“I observed another ‘life on the road’ moment during the show when I peered to my left to see two crew members embraced in each other’s arms during a slow song.  I began to realize that being on tour is not only a professional commitment; it is also a personal one… [The crew] had been at MSG four hours earlier than us and had the bear of a task on their hands to dismantle and pack away everything they had set up.  While I knew it could take hours to set up and take down the elements of a live concert, I had no idea that it could require 18-20 hour days for some people.  Though arena concerts can boast a high ticket price (which can lead to consumer complaints), I now have the utmost respect for the hard work that puts the value into each ticket.  My Bon Jovi College experience was one for the books and I am very grateful for the time and expertise dedicated to us by those who volunteered.” – J.P. (G ’11)