Striking a chord

Having just told a class of music business students stories about the glamorous and intriguing people and places that are part of her experiences as a music industry insider, Michele Caplinger then told the UGA students how much she envied them.

“I had to make a lot of mistakes to learn the business,” said Caplinger. “You guys are so lucky.”

Caplinger, executive director of the Atlanta office of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, was echoing the sentiment voiced by so many of the artists, producers, promoters and other music industry professionals invited to speak to students in the new music business certificate program: I wish they had offered this class when I was in college.

Bruce Burch and Steve Dancz, the program’s co-directors and music industry veterans themselves, structured the coursework with that mantra in mind, their primary motivation being to help UGA students avoid some of the pitfalls they endured while breaking into the industry. The program is interdisciplinary, utilizing the combined resources of both the Terry College of Business and the Hodgson School of Music.

The music business certificate program, which will be open to juniors and seniors from any school or college on campus, consists of seven courses, a mix of basic business and music courses, including the two “music business” courses designed by Burch and Dancz.

Students gain real-world music industry experience through internships with record labels, promoters, studios and other companies. “You can sit in a classroom everyday for years and not learn what you can on an internship in two weeks, sitting next to someone who really does it for a living,” said Dancz.

Students are also asked to find local artists with potential and promote them through their own “record labels.” The catch: They only get a $200 budget. A live showcase featuring the chosen artists was held April 6 at the Melting Point in Athens.

“They’re finding out how hard people work to do this,” he said. “If you don’t love it, it’s a better idea to do something else.”

One of the most valuable pieces of advice students have heard so far came from the lecture of Athens music producer David Barbe, who echoed what Burch and Dancz have told students about needing a burning desire in order to succeed.

“I don’t think you choose the music industry,” said Barbe. “I think it chooses you.”

The new learning environment is an academic and intellectual community on the campus of the University of Georgia humming with the vibrancy of the true college experience-bright and talented students working with brilliant faculty formally in the classroom and informally over a cup of coffee or lounging in the greenspace which stretches from one end of campus to the other. It is a place which recognizes that new information technologies are transforming traditional academic disciplines and embraces those opportunities.