How a Music Degree Helped These Grads Land a Gig at Netflix
When most people think of Netflix, music isn’t what immediately comes to mind. The streaming giant has made its name from distributing, and more recently producing, movies and television series. But all those projects are undergirded by music, and Berklee alumni are applying their musical knowledge and other valuable skills to Netflix’s vast library of films and TV shows.
“My job is to be an advocate for the filmmakers and creative executives I work with,” says Jake Voulgarides B.M. ‘07, who works as a manager for music and creative production in the company’s original film division. “I’m a music resource for them to achieve their creative vision.” That job includes everything from booking recording sessions and hiring music personnel to doing a little matchmaking between filmmakers, composers, and music supervisors. “We put the pieces together,” explains Voulgarides, who worked at Amazon Studios and Universal Music Group before coming to Netflix. “We make sure the vision is being achieved, and we make sure it happens on time and within budget.”
"Berklee gave me a great understanding of the music industry. At Netflix, we touch so many aspects of the industry: composers, labels, producers, performance rights organizations...Even my conducting minor has given me a different perspective on the other people we’re working with at Netflix."
—Anahita Bahri B.M. ’15
Berklee alumna Anahita Bahri B.M. ’15, who earned a master’s degree in statistics from Boston University after completing her degree from Berklee, is now a music data and insights manager for Netflix. She refers to her work as “data storytelling.”
“I help surface insights and trends to the music team,” she says. “A lot of people are intimidated by spreadsheets, but I help translate them and answer questions. How much have we spent to date on licensing music from a certain label? How much did we pay for a certain piece of music, and how well did it perform?”
Both Bahri and Voulgarides say their Berklee backgrounds have helped them at Netflix—sometimes in surprising ways.
“I was an MP&E [music production and engineering] major, and I think the skills I learned have helped me greatly in my work,” says Voulgarides. In his first post-internship job at Capitol Records, Voulgarides worked on several video games. “We needed to render stems for the masters to these games, and no one else on my team could speak that engineering language,” he recalls.
“Berklee gave me a great understanding of the music industry,” says Bahri, who majored in music business/management. “At Netflix, we touch so many aspects of the industry: composers, labels, producers, performance rights organizations. We owe them money for anything we stream, and we pay them so they can pay the composers who own the rights to the music. Even my conducting minor has given me a different perspective on the other people we’re working with at Netflix.”
Voulgarides agrees. “Even the engineering team at Netflix is filled with musicians,” he says. “All my Berklee training is useful in a practical way, even if there’s not a one-to-one correlation.”
Both Bahri and Voulgarides are relatively new to Netflix, and bring their experiences from elsewhere in the industry to bear on their current work. Bahri got her start as a data scientist at Spotify after finishing graduate school. “I came to understand how content patterns differ,” she says. “I worked on some really fun projects, and I get to do some more of that here. People tend to be a little scared of numbers and spreadsheets, but if I can transfer that data to dashboards and visualizations, it’s more interactive and exciting.”
Voulgarides’s career began with a summer in Berklee’s Los Angeles internship program, when he worked at Playtone and Capitol Records to learn the ropes. “I got a crash course in film music, music licensing, supervision—all in one summer,” he says. He’s been able to build on and expand that knowledge through his work at Universal, Amazon, and now Netflix. “This place is two sides of the coin: a traditional studio and also a cutting-edge tech company,” he says. “My experience in the industry has been really useful.”
As Netflix expands its original offerings, music will continue to be a vital part of the company’s projects. Whether it’s their music business knowledge or ear training experience (which Voulgarides says is surprisingly useful in meetings), Berklee alumni have an array of skills that translate well to the world of streaming media. “When you are part of the early stages, you work on these things for months,” Voulgarides says of his film projects. “You see people wonder: Who’s my composer going to be? What’s the music going to sound like? And then, when you see it all come together, it’s awesome.”