Posted on November 14, 2012.
The Hip-Hop Symposium expert panelists. Photo credit: Phil Farnsworth.
By William Kiendl
Berklee College of Music’s Business/Management Department hosted its Sixth Annual Business of Hip-Hop/Urban Music Symposium last month celebrating its 20th anniversary of the major. The event featured the best music execs in the business, including a live interview with guest speaker Kevin Liles, profound entertainment executive and entrepreneur (Trey Songz, Young Jeezy, Big Sean, D’Angelo). Following the Q&A segment, the event transitioned into a “Show Me What You Got” talent showcase, where Berklee students and members of the Boston community were picked at random to perform and receive feedback from the expert panel. The panelist members included:
Noah “40” Shebib: Canadian hip-hop producer of Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx and JoJo as well as ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Songwriter of the Year.
Kevin Liles. Photo credit: Phil Farnsworth.
Rob Lewis ’94: American music director for Diddy’s VH1 show, “Making the Band.” Lewis’s studio experience also credits artists such as Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilera, Diddy and Kelly Rowland.
Miss Courtney Harrell ’01: Berklee Alumni and GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter and vocalist whose credits include Chris Brown, John Legend, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Claude Kelly ’02, KeKe Palmer and JoJo.
Darcie Nicole ’01: Vocalist/songwriter, founder of “…Ask Darcie” and The Boston Hip-Hop Alliance. Credits include: Jojo Brim, Master P, Medusa, GrandMixer DXT, Dre Robinson, Jesse Jaeo Tolbert ’90 (Ms. Lauryn Hill, Ying Yang Twins), Cheo Coker (Vibe), DMX, Chip Fu, Tony Crush, Digable Planets, David Balfour ’00 (Anthony Hamilton).
The conversation between John Kellogg and Kevin Liles offered students a keen look into the drastically changing music industry. Various topics were discussed including executive development, best management practices, and the challenges artists face in the music business today. Kevin emulated professionalism and wisdom beyond his years while speaking eye-to-eye effectively with young and aspiring musicians. The highlights of the discussion can be broken down into four essential talking points:
- Build a Team. Not everyone in this industry can be a superstar. You need to find the right people to work with and do it together. Every major artist has a number of supporting figures at their back; be good at what you do and search for compatible partners to fill the areas you can’t cover.
- Individuality. In today’s music industry, maintaining individuality has proven to be one of the biggest challenges artists face. With mainstream music today promoting electronic-heavy tracks, the human element is almost taken out of modern mainstream music. Be confident in who you are and what music you are creating.
- Quality. “The business is blurry right now, and as it continues to blur you need to get close to the real talent.” With the creation of the Internet, endless material is at our fingertips. With so much content readily available, true talent is hard to come by. Artists today need to be distinct. When you’re different in the industry, you gain respect and loyalty. Different is hard, but different sells shows.
- Longevity. “Find your passion; find the thing you want to do for free and be the best at it.” If you want to pursue longevity in the music business today, musicians need to believe in and stand behind their music stronger than ever. Don’t take yourself so seriously – have love for what you do and stay humble.
The Hip-Hop Symposium fills a need for urban music education at Berklee, engaging the entire department campus wide. It also opens open a window of professional opportunities for students to engage with guests, leading to potential internships or jobs.
If you’d like to learn more about the Hip-Hop/Urban Music Symposium or give your feedback on the event, please email Darcie Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.