Music Connection Takes Over Winter NAMM 2015


Lucky Bell shares insight on Musician's Institute's Music Business program, social media and their Summer Shot program.

Music Connection: Hey guys, this is Music Connection here at NAMM 2015, and we’re here with Lucky Bell from Musician’s Institute.  So this is your seventh show, how’s this one shaping up?
Lucky Bell: You know what, it gets to a point where it just becomes kind of natural. So coming in and seeing the people you’ve seen before just feels like a family reunion. It’s pretty good.

MC: So tell me a little bit about what you guys brought to this NAMM.
Bell:  Well our focus this year, just like any year, is to reach out to the prospective students and show them what MI is all about. This year we had our “amp hand,” which is a sculpture of amps made into the shape of a hand, to show that there’s a lot of creativity that comes from MI. Sometimes it can be about your instrument, sometimes it can be about something so much more, which is what the “amp hand” represents.

MC: Cool, and I know you guys have a really awesome music business course, obviously you do a whole lot of music, so tell me a little bit more about that course, what their focus is, the teachers, stuff like that.
Bell:  Well there are two things that really define our music business program. Number one would have to be the very first thing you learn, which is you can never know enough about the music business industry. You can go in and learn all of these different principals, and think that you’re specialized in one certain thing, but we’re in such a rapidly changing industry and there’s always more to learn.  So that kind of speaks to the faculty of the program, which is such a diverse group of people, so you’re learning about the history of the record label, you’re learning about marketing, you’re learning about demographics and audience catering, even just media. You’re learning about a million different things to get you prepared for the sea of music business, and there’s a lot of waves. (laughs).

The second thing is teaching audience analysis above anything else, because you’re always going to be able to find a book that says what music business is, and you can find someone whose been in the industry for a long time who can help you or mentor you. But the one thing that you can never find unless you truly search for it is audience analysis.  You have to know which audience you’re catering to, and all of these principals that we teach will help you do that. We’ll also help you realize who it is you’re trying to reach, it doesn’t matter if you’re a musician, you want to be a band manager, or a tour manager, you want to work at a record label or in publishing, we’re going to teach you who your audience is so you can succeed in your music business career.

MC: You mentioned media in there a little bit, tell me a little about social media, how they get into that, because I know social media plays a big role in music nowadays. So how do they focus on that and how to utilize it if you’re a musician or tour manager, or just anyone in the realm of music?
Bell: Social media is a very unusual beast, a lot of people use it in a lot of different ways. You have celebrities that use it, not even to represent their brand, but kind of represent their idiosyncrasies. So they can post dumb things and get away with it, and people like that because it’s a piece of them that they’re sharing with the world.

That’s all that social media is, it’s a direct conduit to your fan base and your audience. So what we do in terms of social media to prepare all of our students is that we teach them that it’s about more than just reaching the fans and giving them that small piece of you. It’s always about establishing a brand through your messaging, knowing how social media ties in to all of the other facets of income for you, so it doesn’t have to be a sales-y pitch like, “Buy my album right now!” In fact, we kind of shy away from that in terms of creating a mutually beneficial relationship and allowing social media to do that, which is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of effort, and a lot of effort and case studies. It also takes a lot of coffee.

MC: (Laughs) Exactly. It also goes back to knowing your audience like you were saying. As for my last question, a little bit about the Summer Shot [program] that you guys have coming up. Can you give us a little bit of information on how people apply to it, and a little bit about it?
Bell: Well that’s actually something that we’re advertising here at NAMM, we’re offering some discounts to our Summer Shot program, and the program is aimed at kids who are not yet old enough to attend college, or people who are the opposite and are so busy with full time jobs that they can’t commit to a full schedule.  We offer two weeks, the first one being like a performance week, and the second one we call “industry week,” where you learn more of the industry studies. We offer that so that they can take kind of a “musical vacation” and stay with us for a while to learn outside of their busy lives, or them playing with toys or whatever the young kids do these days (laughs)

MC: And how can they get info on that?
Bell: You can sign up at mi.edu, and there will always be a banner there that you can just click on to get directed to the summer shot page.

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