Digging into Topspin

Feb 21 2010

It’s true that in addition to being the dean of continuing education at Berklee, I am also a student. I learn so much from our Berkleemusic students, instructors, and staff on a daily basis.

Just last month, we launched a brand new online course by Michael King entitled Online Music Marketing with Topspin. It’s a brilliant combination of cutting edge, best practices in online marketing wrapped around the new direct-to-fan sales and marketing platform, Topspin.

The course is extremely popular and by the tweets and blog posts of our current students, it’s a hit! For me, the course and the Topspin platform provide practical tools that I’ve been able to use immediately with my own kids/family music project, Debbie and Friends. With very little effort, I’ve created streaming audio and video widgets, as well as “email for media” widgets, like the one shown below.

When logged in, my Topspin account shows me all of the additional “shares” this widget has and the number of hits it’s getting in each location. The email for media widgets are so effective, in fact, that my email list is growing in a way that only used to happen at shows. It’s very exciting to see how well it all works, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this platform can do!

The Topspin account interface is easy to get around and the tools provided are extremely practical and useful for today’s aspiring musician (author, etc.). Next month, when it’s time to release our new CD, I’ll begin digging into the sales functionality of the Topspin application and will have more to report. In the meantime, what has your experience been with Topspin so far?

A “must” read!

Oct 18 2008
mavericks
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Mavericks at Work is a wonderful collection of case studies showing innovation, originality, and creativity in education and in the workplace. A must read for artists, music educators, and business professionals alike.

A “must” read!

Oct 18 2008
mavericks
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Mavericks at Work is a wonderful collection of case studies showing innovation, originality, and creativity in education and in the workplace. A must read for artists, music educators, and business professionals alike.

Artists House Music is a wonderful, free educational resource containing a wealth of information and advice from music-industry experts and music educators. There are thousands of video interviews, articles, and timely blog posts available on the Artists House Music Web site, and the available content continues to grow.

Artists House Music just introduced a “channels” concept by of aggregating related-video content into a stand-alone player. The following is the Berklee Channel, featuring interviews with members of Berklee’s esteemed music education community including Berklee’s President, Vice Presidents, Deans, Faculty, Chairs, and Staff.

For more information, visit Artists House Music.

With more than 14,000 unfulfilled music education positions in the United States today, there are lots of opportunities for aspiring music educators.

Non-conventional career opportunities beyond the classroom also abound. They include starting a private teaching practice; licensing a music education franchise like Music Together or Kindermusik, writing and arranging instrumental or choral music; authoring music education methods and materials for music education publishers; writing articles on new approaches to music education; writing reviews in trade publications for new products and services in the field; serving on music industry boards to forge innovative partnerships; presenting sessions at State and National music education conferences; consulting and advising for music industry manufacturers and publishers who develop music education products but are removed from the daily classroom experience; and the list goes on.

The late Sandy Feldstein, CEO of PlayinTime Productions and a well-known luminary in the field of music education, shared his thoughts on opportunities available to aspiring music educators in this interview filmed in August of 2006.

As Andrew Surmani, Vice President of Alfred Publishing explained in his interview with Artists House Music, there are many kinds of positions a music educator could fill at his company including sales, marketing, finance, production, editorial, and licensing. Click here for Andrew’s interview.

Music educators are skilled, resourceful and very effective communicators. These traits combined with a strong foundation in music and music education is a powerful set of attributes that will open the door to many career opportunities along the way. Be open to these opportunities—in the classroom or beyond—as trained music educator, you have the skills to succeed!

Music Mentors

Mar 24 2008

2008 TED Prize winner and renowned author, Dave Eggers has found a way to make a difference for kids in public schools. His 826 Valencia tutoring center has inspired others around the world to open their own volunteer-driven, creative writing labs.

Watching this clip, I couldn’t help but think this same volunteer and mentoring approach can be applied to public school music programs in need of advocacy and support. If your local school music programs are struggling and you’d like to find a way to help, this video clip is sure to inspire some exciting ideas.

Please share your thoughts on how this approach could work for music and the arts.

What does teaching, writing, arranging, authoring, performing, recording, consulting, and publishing music all have in common? For me, they are entrepreneurial endeavors that have become branches in a diverse career firmly rooted in Music Education.

Attributes of Music Educator

    Music educators are skilled!

We are trained to teach all aspects and genres of music. We are usually well versed in any number of musical instruments, and teach in a variety of music educational settings including classroom, ensemble, and private lesson. As educators, we are constantly striving to develop fun, interactive, age-appropriate lesson plans and outcome-based assessment goals for music education programs K-12. This command of the language and practice of music, and its application to the educational development of students, is a powerful foundation that will support a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors in music for the entrepreneur.

    Music educators are resourceful!

We have to be. For many of us, the weekly is daunting: teach 500+ students weekly, eight classes a day, going room-to-room with only a pushcart, and many times doing it all with no budget to purchase instruments or music. This common scenario taps into one’s resourcefulness and begins to set the stage for innovative, entrepreneurial pursuits.

    Music educators have effective communication skills!

As a music educator, you’ll get very good at public speaking, crowd control, and “thinking on your feet.” You’ll gain the ability to read your audience, anticipate questions, identify needs, and make appropriate adjustments to your performances and presentations—in real time. Effective communication skills are critical to articulate entrepreneurial ideas and advocate support.

Music educators have what it takes to be entrepreneurs. The combination of expert skills in music and music education, resourcefulness, and effective communication skills provide fertile ground for the development of an aspiring entrepreneur.

Over the course of the past 20+ years, the opportunities that have come my way and the preparedness I have felt to pursue those opportunities are due in large part to the years I spent as a classroom music educator and choral director.

So, What Is An Entrepreneur?

Simply stated, an entrepreneur is someone who identifies a “need” or a problem, and then figures out a solution. Of course, comprehensive goals, strategies, and execution plans must be developed and implemented in order to achieve success with any entrepreneurial endeavor, but it all begins with a “need.”

What Are Some Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Music Education?

Entrepreneurial opportunities available to music educators abound. They include writing and arranging band or choral music to serve a program’s needs; authoring music education methods; writing articles on new approaches to music education; writing reviews in trade publications for new products and services; music industry board work to forge innovative partnerships; presenting new approaches to the profession at State and National conferences; consulting and advising for music industry manufacturers and publishers who develop music education products and publications; and the list goes on. These entrepreneurial activities provide professional development opportunities for the music educator-entrepreneur, service to the profession, and potentially, additional streams of income to fund a program, cause, or additional entrepreneurial endeavors.

Where To Begin?

Look at your current teaching situation. What are some of the needs not being met? What can your experience, insight, and skill set offer to address these “needs” for your immediate situation—and potentially—for hundreds of other music educators? How far can you take it? How far can you take it? Start by making a list: “Immediate Need” followed by, “Entrepreneurial Opportunities.” Here is an example:


Immediate Need:

A third grade teacher is planning a 100 day celebration at school and would like to do some cross-curricular planning and activities with the music program.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities:
a. Write a “100 Day Song” for the class, arrange for two-part choral, seek a music education publisher to make the piece available to schools.

b. Write a short musical for the third-grade class incorporating elements from the 100 day math curriculum. Seek a music education publisher to make the work available to all schools.

Take stock of your skills and address one of your program’s immediate needs with an entrepreneurial spirit. Find a solution to your immediate need and then and take it as far as you can. Remember, as a music educator, you have a solid foundation and the skills needed to branch out successfully in many different directions. Have fun exploring the possibilities and becoming a music educator-entrepreneur!