New Bachelor of Arts to Create Tomorrow’s Innovators

June 8, 2022

In its report The Future of Jobs, the World Economic Forum found that the top five skills needed to thrive in the new economy—and thus those most sought-after by employers—are complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, and coordinating with others. Job candidates who have these abilities will be in an enviable position in the music industry of today and tomorrow.

Christopher Wares

Christopher Wares

Cultivating such skills in students is exactly why Berklee is launching its new Bachelor of Arts in Music Leadership and Innovation this fall. Housed within the Music Business/Management Department, it will be the first Bachelor of Arts degree program in the college’s 75-year history. With no audition or instrument proficiency required—another first for Berklee—the B.A. provides access and opportunity for nonmusicians (or nonperformers) to pursue careers in the music industry. These careers extend far beyond performance or production, so this new program aligns well with Berklee’s expansive and forward-thinking approaches to education. Meanwhile, the Bachelor of Music degree program remains available for those students who wish to improve their musicianship and pursue a career as a performer while simultaneously learning about the music industry.

Innovation and the Music Industry

So what is innovation, and how does studying it prepare students for the future of business? IDEO, one of the world’s leading design companies, describes innovation as “the ability to generate and execute new ideas—incremental, evolutionary, or revolutionary—and it starts with creativity,” with creativity being defined as “the ability to look past the obvious—to transcend traditional ways of seeing the world to create something new.”

The music industry has been revolutionized by innovations in technology that have radically disrupted its structure and the way business is done: the digitization of music, peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing, digital download stores, music streaming services, consumer home-recording technologies—and the list goes on. Today, developments in blockchain technologies and artificial intelligence, as well as augmented and virtual reality, are revolutionizing everything from how contracts are written and music rights-holders get paid to how artists interact with fans.

Bearing all of this in mind, innovation and creative problem-solving are essential to the sustainability of an organization or one’s career.  All of the major music groups—Universal, Sony, Warner—understand how crucial these skills are to their continued growth and success, and they are hiring innovation officers and investing heavily in innovation labs. No one wants a repeat of 2014, when failures to anticipate the impact of new technologies led to industry revenues plummeting to all-time lows, down over 40 percent from previous years.

Preparing to Lead and Disrupt

The Bachelor of Arts in Music Industry Leadership and Innovation is designed to create the thought leaders and innovators of tomorrow. Students will learn systematic approaches to creative thinking and problem-solving by studying—and practicing—some of the most widely used innovation methodologies, such as design thinking, human-centered design, and Agile, among others. This will enable them to identify activities and principles shared by these different methodologies (e.g., research, ideation, prototyping, etc.), and then students can begin the process of creating their own. The curriculum also includes the largest concentration of music business courses of any program on the market.

What this means is that graduates will be prepared not only to enter the job market immediately— pursuing careers in artist management, music publishing, record label operations, marketing, concerts, and touring—but they will also have the skills necessary to anticipate and adapt to changes in the industry, thus maximizing their value and enabling them to have long and sustainable careers.

Finally, Berklee provides a microcosm of the music industry, one in which B.A. students will be surrounded by music and will have many opportunities to express their creativity, all while enjoying interdisciplinary collaborations across the institution. This will enable them to fully develop their entrepreneurial, leadership, and creative- thinking skills.

As Berkee launches this program, the excitement on campus is palpable. It marks a new era for the college, one that aims to create even more amazing opportunities for students.

Christopher Wares is the assistant chair of the Music Business/Management Department.

This article appeared in the spring/summer 2022 issue of Berklee Today

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