Berklee Today

Berklee Beat:
Epic/Sony Records to Release Berklee Compilation CD

From the left: Susan Berk, Lee Eliot Berk, Jeff Dorenfeld, Chris Poppe, and Stephen Webber after the Heavy Rotation showcase concert where Poppe announced that Epic/Sony Records will collaborate with Berklee on a CD.
Photo by Justin Allardyce Knight

At an October concert in the Berklee Performance Center, executives from Epic/Sony Records announced their plans to collaborate with Heavy Rotation Records, the student-operated label at Berklee. The merger will yield a compilation CD titled Shekinah, featuring 13 of Berklee's top female singer/songwriters. An advance from Epic and royalties from the recording will go to an endowed scholarship fund at Berklee. The deal is the first-ever collaboration between a major record label and a student-run label.

Jeff Dorenfeld, who is the faculty advisor to the students involved in Heavy Rotation Records, conceived the collaboration. "The label is senior practicum for Music Business/Management majors," said Dorenfeld. "I had revamped the business plan for the label and was seeking major-label distribution for Heavy Rotation releases." Beginning in the fall of 1999, Dorenfeld began inviting Epic executives to the campus to present workshops and to view a student presentation detailing the idea of an all-female compilation recording. Impressed by the presentation and the list of successful female alumni in the recording industry (including Paula Cole, Melissa Etheridge, Rachelle Ferrell, Diana Krall, Natalie Maines, Aimee Mann, Susan Tedeschi, and others), Epic offered a contract to the college label.

Students involved in Heavy Rotation Records have gotten hands-on experience in record company operations. They oversee A&R, marketing, sales, publicity, promotion, booking, and other duties. They selected the 13 artists who will be featured on the upcoming disc. Among them are Adrianne, Antje, Valerie Brinker, Cami, Kristin Cifelli, Rhea Dummett, Kyler, Mancain, Alison Notkin, Polina, Anne Chandler, Clare Muldaur, and Amanda Williams. Members of Berklee's MP&E faculty produced all but one of the tracks in Berklee's studios. Stephen Webber produced the majority of the cuts but Carl Beatty, Mitch Benoff, and Bill Scheniman also produced tracks. Multiplatinum record producer Josh Leo produced Anne Chandler's song during a visit to the college last summer. Only two tracks remain to be completed.

The October 18, 2000, BPC concert served as a showcase of 10 of the Berklee artists for the Epic officials and a large audience of students. Reflecting the direction of the upcoming CD, the night's music ranged from folk and alternative to r&b and heavy metal music. Attending on behalf of Epic were Chris Poppe, Epic's VP of marketing and product manager, and Paul Jarosik, a regional sales manager for Epic. Former V2 Records President Dan Beck who was an early champion of the project was also on hand. Poppe commented, "The music is amazing and the marketing plan is great. I think it is going to be very successful. I hope this is the beginning of a very long and fruitful relationship between Epic and Berklee."

A release party for the Shekinah CD will be announced in the coming months.