Berklee Popular Music Institute launches

Lollapalooza 2015
Lollapalooza 2015

Lollapalooza: one of the summer music festivals some BMPI students will get to perform at. Pic: Creative Commons/Aneil Lutchman

Berklee College of Music creates a programme offering students performances at major music festivals and hands-on experience in artist development

Berklee College of Music has opened the Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI), an experience-based programme enabling students to go from the classroom to the stage, as performers or behind the scenes in every facet of artist development and touring. The cornerstone of the program is the opportunity for students to perform at some of the most popular summer music festivals, including Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) New York, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, and Made In America.

Eighteen students are selected to participate in the BPMI for three semesters through an interview process, with almost 100 applying this year. The class listens to submissions and decides the finalists based on live performances, recordings, videos, and social media presence, ultimately choosing six student artists to each appear at a music festival. Each act works with a team of three BPMI students throughout the spring, preparing for the festival season. The teams handle artist development, marketing, contracts, tour budgets, digital presence, merchandise, and sponsorships. They also record, master, and release an artist compilation through BPMI’s label Heavy Rotation Records, and produce an artist showcase.

BPMI is the vision of music business/management professor Jeffrey Dorenfeld, who sees the festival experience as important preparation for an artist’s career. “It’s daunting for young performers who have only played on a small stage to suddenly appear on a stage that’s five to eight-feet high and 40 to 60-feet wide,” he said. “Every band has benefitted from the experience. They step off the stage with more confidence, and the realisation that this is something they can pursue.”

The video below gives a brief introduction to the Berklee Popular Music Institute and features Cordelia & The Buffalo at the Osheaga Festival in Montreal and Kyle Thornton & The Company at Lollapalooza. To learn more about the BPMI, visit:

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