By Lisa Occhino
As I’m typing this, I’m on the train from Stamford to Boston for what will be both my first and last summer semester at Berklee. I’m graduating in December, and while I’m very happy with what I’ve done so far in my college career, I still feel like there’s so much more I want to accomplish before moving my tassel from right to left – with The Groove, with my music, with my startup company, and with myself. I’m not going to use this Letter from the Editor to talk about the last three, but I’m extraordinarily proud of what my wonderful team and I have done with The Groove this past semester, so I want to talk a little bit about that and what’s down the road for Berklee’s student voice.
First of all, as you can tell, berkleegroove.com has an entirely new look. Since design changes had never before been made on our website or logo, this was a huge decision and undertaking. We really wanted The Groove to better reflect our community and the kind of content we publish, so after months and months of work, we finally completed our new logo and design changes on April 8, 2013. Above all, what I’m most proud of is that we didn’t have to hire out anyone to do this; we designed and implemented all of the changes entirely on our own. Not too shabby for a couple of Berklee kids, eh?
We kicked off the semester with our favorite music apps of 2012, a special Students of the Month feature in January, and a slew of alumni profiles to give our readers an idea of what life after Berklee is like. We continued our Artist of the Month series with three more incredible Berklee students: Dominic Florio, Caitlin Timmins, and Matthew Politoski. Live show review highlights included Imagine Dragons, Boston Ballet, Snarky Puppy, Andy Grammer, and James Blake. Some of our favorite interviews were with Jamie N Commons, Boston Calling Music festival co-founder Brian Appel, singer/songwriter alum Jesse Ruben, and Grammy-nominated alum Seth Glier.
In January, we officially brought on the newest member of our team, Caleb Hsu. With a staff of only three people this semester, Caleb really stepped up to the plate; he is by far the most enthusiastic and dedicated staff writer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. We were also very fortunate to have that same spirit in our contributing writers and (brand new!) street team. With a staff so small, there’s no way we would have been able to accomplish everything we did this semester without them. So, at the end of the semester, we decided to host our first-ever private party for our writers and street teamers – complete with ice cream sundaes and an award ceremony – to show our appreciation for all of their hard work. Everyone received a certificate, handwritten thank-you note, and gift bag. We even gave out special MVP awards to two contributing writers and two street teamers who have gone above and beyond for The Groove this year: Alliz Nicholas (writer), Robbie Simmons (writer), Shannon Jacob (street teamer), and Pablo Garay (street teamer).
We hosted several new events this spring, including our first-ever open mic night at the Berklee bookstore, a Gold Fields listening party, and a DVD screening of Noel Gallagher’s (from Oasis) High Flying Birds in the Student Activities Center. We also teamed up with Thomas Robert Meyers of ArtfulMusicianNY for a spring art giveaway and raffled off concert tickets on our Facebook page throughout the semester. We accomplished (and exceeded) our goals of reaching over 1,800 likes on Facebook and over 1,600 Twitter followers – thanks to all of you!
In the wake of the Boston Marathon tragedy this year, we had no hesitation in transforming our spring end-of-semester party into an evening of unity and strength for the Berklee community. While we still served our usual enormous amount of food and gave away prizes (including a ukulele from Guitar Center!), the first half of the event was a benefit open mic in which students signed up to share their music and stories, showing that Berklee is truly “Boston Strong.” Throughout the night, we invited attendees to contribute what they could to our donation jar for The One Fund Boston, but we also gave an opportunity for students who were tight on cash to still give back by creating their own thank-you cards for the Boston Police Department and signing our “Boston Strong” poster. The second half of the event featured headlining sets by Hannah Christianson (our fall 2012 “In The Groove” songwriting competition winner) and Dominic Florio (our February 2013 Artist of the Month). The benefit event turned out to be a huge success, and I’m so glad that we were able to bring our community together and support each other during such tragic times.
As for the future of The Groove, two out of three of us will be graduating this December. Our promotional director, Alyssa McCord, will be moving to Nashville to pursue a career in concert tour marketing and publicity. I’ll be traveling around Europe for a month, and then making the move New York City to further develop my startup company, continue songwriting, and work as a music industry professional in the field of digital marketing/promotions. Caleb will be holding down the fort for us here at The Groove, and we’ll inevitably be looking to build up the team again with some fresh new faces at the end of this year. (If you’re interested, our FAQ page has all the info on how to get involved.)
I’ve been working for The Groove since my second semester at Berklee, and it’s been so exciting to see how much we’ve grown since 2011. I feel incredibly lucky to work with people as smart and talented as Alyssa and Caleb who have been just as dedicated as I am to building up our reputation, readership, and involvement in the Berklee community. With all of the work we’ve put into The Groove, we’re going to need people who can continue to grow what we’ve started and who want to see it thrive for years to come. I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth mentioning again that The Groove has directly given me the most rewarding experiences of my college career, and I sincerely hope it does the same for the next group of people running it in 2014.
For the first time, our entire staff will be in Boston for the summer, so we’ll be operating on our regular publication schedule. (If you’d like to contribute to The Groove in any way over the summer, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!) As I mentioned, fall 2013 is my last semester at Berklee, so I’m committed to making it the most successful semester The Groove has seen yet. Stay tuned for our announcement of brand new events, giveaways, and much, much more.
Have a fantastic summer, Groovers!