Off-the-rack business plans have never been of much value in the music industry. “This is not the kind of business where, if I have five records that each sell a million copies, I can depend on my next five records selling five million more,” says Trustee Martin Bandier ’62, a corporate leader in the world of music and entertainment, and longtime supporter of the University. With equal measures of energy, enthusiasm, and guidance, and the financial support necessary to put ideas into action, he has enabled Syracuse to create the Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries, a new academic curriculum that is custom-tailored to meet the needs of students aspiring to leadership in a special field. “This has never been an easy business,” he says. “And it’s getting tougher all the time.”
The music industry was originally a by-product of advances in printing technology. It was born some two centuries ago when expanding press capacities created the retail sheet music market—the public’s first opportunity to pick hit tunes at the cash register. The invention of the phonograph followed, and the industry continues to this day to develop at the twin mercies of technological progress and shifts in public taste. “Every time a scientific breakthrough creates a new consumer entertainment medium, the existing order of the music industry is gripped with fear,” says Bandier program director David M. Rezak, who has 30 years of experience as a booking agent and teaches music industry courses at the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). “It happened in the 1920s when record companies panicked over the sale of radios. Many execs said, ‘We’re finished! Why in the world would anybody go out and buy a record if you can get the music for free at home?’” If that question sounds familiar in the age of digital downloading, it should. According to Rezak, post-Napster doomsayers don’t understand that the industry has a history of thriving in the face of tech-based challenges. “The smartest, best-informed music executives didn’t merely accommodate radio, they turned it into the most effective tool yet for promoting the sale of records,” he says.
Bandier, chair and co-CEO of EMI Music Publishing, is living proof of the music industry’s resilience. “The Internet, of course, is having an enormous impact on us,” says Bandier, whose company holds copyright to more than a million songs in a portfolio wide enough to include “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” “Technology creates problems, but it also creates opportunities. The most significant problem today is the Napster scenario. When composers, authors, publishers, artists, and record companies aren’t paid for what they create, the value of everyone’s intellectual property is diminished.” But Bandier did not rise to an authoritative position in global entertainment by dwelling on the negative. “If you look at the larger picture, you’ll find that digital technology is opening new markets,” he says. “Take phone ring tones, for example. One of the compositions we own is ‘The Pink Panther,’ a movie theme written by Henry Mancini back in 1963.” TMCnet, a web-based telecommunications magazine, identified “The Pink Panther” as among the top-selling ring tones on the market following the 2006 release of a remake of the film. “Could Henry have possibly imagined that one day people would want his music as a ring tone on their telephones?” Bandier asks.
An Appropriate Education
With the accelerating velocity of technological change and marketing innovation, Bandier believes the industry demands more focused preparation today than when he and many of his colleagues entered the field. In 2003, Bandier, a political science major who became a lawyer before moving into the music business, joined an ad hoc committee with other SU alumni at the top of the industry to explore the possibilities of an interdisciplinary approach that might make such preparation possible. Members included Rick Dobbis ’70, global business representative for the Rolling Stones; Steve Leeds G’73, vice president of talent and industry affairs for Sirius Satellite Radio; Rob Light G’78, chief music agent and managing partner at Creative Artists Agency; Phil Quartararo ’77, executive vice president of EMI Music North America; and John Sykes ’77, president of network development for MTV Networks. Consulting with Rezak and deans Carole Brzozowski of VPA and David Rubin of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the committee articulated a vision of what an undergraduate education appropriate to the field might entail. With decades of practical experience among them in making personnel decisions, group members agreed on many of the basics. They wanted a program capable of providing a combination of management skills, public relations know-how, and broad appreciation of music and the arts. They felt it crucial to build in a heavy emphasis on internships and mentoring relationships to guide students beyond rock ’n’ roll fantasies to a real taste of the business. “We can never know what the next successful business model will be, but we do know it will be shaped by leaders who demonstrate the kind of bold, creative thinking that has taken so many of our alumni to the top,” says Rezak, who worked with the committee throughout the process. “Their input constitutes a tremendous gift to Syracuse.”
As VPA’s director of curriculum development, Rezak points out that Syracuse has been at the forefront of music industry education for decades. The Setnor School of Music, for example, began offering a music industry major for students earning bachelor of music degrees during the 1970s. But all B.M. degree programs require 60 credits of performance work, effectively limiting participation to performers and composers. “We want everybody who works at our company to love music,” Bandier says. “But a good cello audition will not get you a job in the A&R [artist and repertoire management] department.”
During the 1990s, VPA introduced a music industry minor that has no musical performance requirements. In 2005-06, it attracted 137 undergraduates from across campus, including Tina Blosz ’06 and Michael Nordman ’07. “Minoring in music industry was one of the best decisions I made in college,” says Blosz, a double major in television-radio-film and Spanish who graduated summa cum laude last spring. “I especially enjoyed meeting the industry leaders who came to lecture and speak with us.” Blosz served an internship for MTV Magazine in Madrid during a semester abroad as a junior, and now works for MTV’s market development office in New York City. Nordman, a senior political science and public relations major, originally selected the minor for no reason other than a love for music. “I took it out of personal interest,” he says. “But it is opening up some new career possibilities for me.” This summer, Nordman interned at ISL Public Relations, a Manhattan agency that focuses on promoting emerging musical artists.
According to Michael Schoonmaker, chair of the television-radio-film department at Newhouse, many of his students are attracted to the minor because of music’s central position in the entertainment world. “The music industry is a bellwether,” he says. “Its problems often become the problems of other entertainment media, as we see in the downloading controversies. Television, radio, and film are all heavy users of music, and the more our students know about how the business works, the stronger they become in their own specialties.”
With the direction and support of industry alumni, an undeniable groundswell of student interest, and the fundamental academic components already in place at various corners of the campus, the University took the next logical step: creation of the Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries, offering a full-scale undergraduate major leading to the bachelor of science degree. “Marty’s gift has enabled us to put together a program that is poised to make Syracuse the designated number-one training ground for the corporate big leagues of American show business,” Rezak says.
In June, at a star-studded gathering held in the MTV studio overlooking Times Square, Chancellor Nancy Cantor announced the launch of the Bandier program. Thanking Bandier for his counsel, as well as his financial support, Cantor described the new program to an audience of corporate heavyweights; musical celebrities (Alicia Keys and Jay-Z prominent among them); SU students, alumni, and faculty; and high school students on hand to have a look at what is likely to become one of American higher education’s most attractive new opportunities. “Bandier is a one-of-a-kind undergraduate interdisciplinary program that will prepare students for executive-level careers in music and entertainment management,” the Chancellor said. She credited the faculties and specialized resources of the program’s institutional sponsors—VPA, Newhouse, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management—for making the program possible. “Each will play its role in giving every Bandier student a thorough foundation encompassing music, the liberal arts, communications, and management,” she said.
Cantor lauded the Bandier curriculum for prioritizing the concerns of the scholarship-in-action vision by which the University is setting its course. She cited the Bandier semester abroad in the London music industry, an immersion experience offering international perspective; the program’s three internship experiences, which pair students with working executives to create mentoring relationships and professional contacts; and the mutually beneficial contributions Bandier students can be expected to make to campus and community life. These include leadership participation in the student-run campus record labels, Syracuse University Records and Marshall Street Records, including their outreach efforts to discover and promote area talent; the University Union Concert Board, which brings popular musical acts to campus; SU’s three radio stations, all of which offer opportunities in musical programming, engineering, and business; and The Daily Orange and other student publications where opportunities to write about music are available.
Sykes, host of the MTV event, said, “Harvard and Stanford are known as great ‘feeder’ schools to Wall Street, and Cornell is known for sending its medical graduates to the greatest hospitals. But up until now, a young kid with a lot of passion and ideas about the music industry has had very few formal paths into the music industry.” Non-alumni executives seemed equally impressed. Big Jon Platt, hip-hop impresario and executive vice president at EMI Music Group, believes Syracuse is performing a service to the industry by creating a realistic training ground that will bring coherence to the hiring process. “People [in the job market] say to me, ‘I went to school here, where I did this and that,’ and it really means nothing to me because I know they didn’t learn anything about the music business,” Platt told a reporter for BET Style, Black Entertainment Television’s video magazine, which covered the Bandier event at MTV. “Now there really is a program where they are going to learn what the music business is about.”
Learning from Students
At a question-and-answer session conducted by Rezak, it was evident that Bandier, Sykes, and the other executives were impressed by the sophisticated understanding of the relationship between music and technology demonstrated by SU students. Rebecca Zeller ’06, a Setnor School music industry major and violinist, counted hands-on work with the campus record labels, radio stations, and concert board as valuable, but worried about a lack of experience with emerging media, such as satellite radio and music e-commerce. Would these be covered in the Bandier curriculum? Jason Flom of EMI’s Virgin Records responded. “As a business, we are already outpacing the rate of change seen in the past,” he said. “We will learn from you what needs to be studied, and it is crucial to make that integral to the curriculum.” Flom, an industry veteran whose artists have sold some 150 million records, urged music industry aspirants to study computer science, predicting “the next Marty Bandier is going to come out of that world.” Several SU students in the audience enthusiastically indicated they had done just that.
Ken Golden ’06, a newly graduated communication and rhetorical studies major with a music industry minor, prefaced his question by saying that working in A&R was his “dream job.” He asked the panelists if they thought web sites were viable places to discover and promote artists. Flom responded that he had recently signed a band he discovered on MySpace.com, and Bandier related this story: “My 17-year-old son, Max, showed me something by Freddie Wexler, which he found on Freddie’s web site. It looked like a hit to him—and it looked like a hit to me.” Bandier signed Wexler soon after.
Emi Horikawa ’07, a Setnor School music industry major and saxophonist who currently co-chairs the University Union Concert Board, questioned Sykes about URGE, MTV’s recent entry in the download market. “URGE is obviously being targeted at MTV viewers, but don’t most of them already own iPods, which are not compatible to non-Apple software?” she asked. Sykes replied, “I believe it’s early in this horse race and I’m glad that we finally got in. Big companies like Viacom [MTV’s parent] have to get into the game or we’ll be dinosaurs. Who will tell us how to do it right? You will.”
After all the talk of high-tech delivery systems, revolutionary marketing techniques, and follow-the-customer media, Bandier adds an old-school caveat that he hopes will become as important to students in the program bearing his name as it is to him and his EMI colleagues. “You need to remember that everything starts with the song,” he says. “No matter how you package it—MTV, radio, telephone, you name it—they’ll turn it off if they don’t like the song.”
Composing Career Opportunities: The EMI Center
The Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries, established with a naming gift from Trustee Martin Bandier ’62, is the academic centerpiece of a Syracuse University initiative designed to put Brand Orange on undergraduate education in these fields. The EMI Center for Internship, Mentoring, and Career Opportunities is among the Bandier program’s most valuable assets. Established with funding from EMI Music Publishing, the world’s largest music publisher, the center offers Bandier students a remarkable suite of services designed to facilitate out-of-classroom learning experiences and career progress, including the following:
• pairing students with appropriate industry mentors;
• identifying and facilitating for-credit internships in New York City, Nashville, Los Angeles, London, Syracuse, and elsewhere;
• maintaining a music and entertainment industries library of electronic and print databases, directories, and publications; and
• providing an electronic work station dedicated to keeping students in the loop on career opportunities, whenever and wherever they may appear.
The center, located on campus and electronically accessible from anywhere in the world, gives Bandier students and graduates a foot in the door as they find their places in the notoriously tough music and entertainment industries. “This is the first opportunity for us to create a system to ‘feed’ educated, qualified, and ambitious kids directly into the industry,” Bandier says. Music industry professor David Rezak agrees. “I don’t think there’s a program of any type that is structured to offer more services to its students during one of life’s most difficult transitions,” he says.