Berklee Hosts Leading Artists and Entertainment Pros at Annual Career Jam

Grammy-winning producer and singer-songwriter FINNEAS and hitmaker Ashe BM '15 headlined an event that featured top talent from across the industry.

April 8, 2024

More than 100 artists, entrepreneurs, and executives representing major companies from across the music and entertainment landscape converged on the Berklee campus for Career Jam 2024, an annual professional development event that connects students to many of the most influential figures in the business. The two-day program took place April 4–5 and included master classes, mentoring sessions, auditions, and Q&A panels with top-tier musicians, performers, producers, executives, and more.

Headlining this year’s Career Jam were Oscar-winning and multi-Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer FINNEAS, and singer-songwriter and alumna Ashe BM '15. The duo was joined by Paul Wachter, founder and CEO of Main Street Advisors. The keynote panel—moderated by Jonathan Perkins, assistant chair of songwriting—revealed insights on FINNEAS' and Ashe’s collaborative process as songwriting partners, how they each have learned to navigate the business while continuing to evolve as artists, and their personal advice to aspiring creatives on how to nurture themselves and their art.

“I knew I wanted to make music for a living from the time I was 11 years old, and every day I recommitted to that,” said FINNEAS. “I had so many questions and I wanted so much advice. That would be my biggest advice to anybody: if you are in a room with somebody who has stories you want to hear, ask them about those stories.”

“I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do [at Berklee]. I was the most insecure little girl of all time,” shared Ashe, introduced on stage by Voice Professor Patrice Williamson, her former instructor whom she referenced as a source of encouragement. “I kept trying to surround myself with people who wanted the best for me as the human, not just as the artist. You don’t need to be what anyone else wants you to be, and [my people] kept feeding that into who I was.”

Choreographer Todd Williamson at Career Jam

Renowned K-Pop choreographer Todd Williamson gave the keynote talk at Career Jam's K-Pop and Beyond series.

Along with Career Jam headliners, the event featured a host of prominent artists and industry leaders. The two-day event kicked off Thursday, April 4, with the K-Pop and Beyond series, sponsored by the CJ Cultural Foundation, featuring a keynote interview with renowned choreographer Todd Williamson, a discussion of K-Pop songwriting with singer-songwriter and producer August Rigo and songwriter Chikk, and a dance performance from Berklee’s Asian Culture and Performance Club and Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s commercial dance students.

Friday, April 5, offered an eclectic mix of career development opportunities for students, with conversations ranging from the world of sync featuring alumna Emily Weber BM ’97, head of synch/partner at Position Music; to gender gaps within the industry with Tina Farris, tour manager for the Roots and Chris Rock, and Keli Nicole Price, associate professor and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter; to a celebration of Broadway featuring Boston Conservatory alumna and musical theater veteran Natalie Toro BFA ’86; to a panel on live event music direction with renowned director and composer Khirye Tyler (Beyoncé, Alicia Keys); and an inside look at the business side of hip-hop featuring legendary producer Kyambo “Hip-Hop” Joshua.

Leadership from Splice speak with students at Career Jam

Leadership from Splice including CEO Kakul Srivastava (far left) speak with students at a discussion on creating professional sample packs.

Mike Ritter

A highlight from the day was the discussion with representatives from Splice. CEO Kakul Srivastava; Chrissy Tignor, Splice education director and associate professor for Berklee and Berklee Online; and Israel Medina, senior label manager and sound designer, dissected the company’s unique position in the industry while offering guidance about how Berklee students can utilize the company's expansive sound and sample library. In the lead-up to the panel, Splice participated in the project "Splice Sprints," which gave songwriting and electronic production and design students the opportunity to work on developing professional-level sample packs. The company previously hosted Berklee students at its studios in Los Angeles for a behind-the-scenes look at how they create sample packs.

Additionally, Career Jam debuted the premiere of a new music video from alumnus, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato BM ’04, leader of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Cato unveiled his cover of “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones, a project he filmed at Power Station at Berklee NYC using 3D cameras and audio tracking. Attendees experienced the power of this technology through Oculus headsets, giving them a 360-degree perspective and the feeling of being in the studio with Cato and his orchestra clones playing every instrument.

Watch "Miss You" by Louis Cato, filmed at Power Station at Berklee NYC:

“I thought about the idea of making a visual representation of what’s happening in my brain when I’m composing a soundscape,” said Cato, explaining how he came up with the concept for the video. “There’s an interaction that happens when I’m drumming, for example, where I’m engaging in my head with what the bass player is going to be playing. So I tried to capture that visually using the technology.”

Other notable speakers participating in this year’s Career Jam included producer and frequent Kendrick Lamar collaborator DJ Dahi; Steve Schnur, worldwide executive and president of Music for Electronic Arts; acclaimed producer duo Nova Wav; Ericka Coulter, founder of popular performance platform TheBasement Series and senior vice president of A&R at Warner Records; alumna Amanda Samii ’09, founder of Good Play Records; choreographers Sunny Walters (Britney Spears, Earth, Wind, and Fire) and Maleek Washington ’09 (Spike Lee, Nas); and sought-after managers Ziggy Chareton (Shawn Mendes) and Lydia Asrat (Normani).

Student performers on stage at the Career Jam Concert

Student Mar Giménez '24 (left) leads an ensemble of dancers in a performance of her original song "La Manera" at the Career Jam Concert.

Kelly Davidson

Career Jam 2024 concluded Friday evening with the Career Jam Concert, a performance and award show that is part of Berklee’s spring Signature Series, which celebrates the accomplishments of students across the community. Awardees, who were chosen by peers and faculty through a highly selective audition process, took center stage at the Berklee Performance Center, where they performed their original work in front of top music and entertainment executives from around the world. Awards were presented for a wide variety of categories including New Artist, Songwriting, Production, Performance, Choreography, Scoring, Music Direction, and Music Business.

Related Categories