Berklee Popular Music Institute Artists to Perform at Summer Music Festivals

Margot Edwards
April 26, 2018
Press release
Image by Mike Spencer

Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) is sending seven up-and-coming artists from the college to perform at popular music festivals in the U.S. and Canada this summer. The program guides students through every step of going from the classroom to the stage—important preparation for a performance career.

Students will have the opportunity to perform at Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, Florida, on April 27–29; Country LakeShake in Chicago on June 22–24; Essence Festival in New Orleans on July 5–8; Lollapalooza in Chicago on August 2–5; Osheaga in Montreal on August 3–5; Outside Lands in San Francisco on August 10–12; and Music Midtown in Atlanta, September 15–16.

Students in BPMI’s A&R group reviewed more than 300 submissions and narrowed the field through a combination of factors, including recordings, videos, social media presence, and live audition showcases. They also considered the artist’s style of music for genre-specific festivals like Welcome to Rockville (metal) and Country LakeShake (country/Americana). The class ultimately chose metal band MDFK, Americana group Jacksonville Kid, R&B singers Yanina and Lyric Rachae, pop artist Emilia Ali, and electro-pop groups luhx. and AJNA to represent BPMI at this summer’s festivals.  

While most college classes are one semester, BPMI runs on a three-semester, full-year cycle. In the fall semester, the class chooses the artists and splits up into management teams. In the spring it works on artist development, marketing, digital presence, budgets, merchandise, and sponsorships. And in the summer, it rehearses with the artists to prepare them for the festival stage—a much different experience than a club show—and accompanies them to each festival to handle on-site promotion, production, and tour management.

"Performing on a festival stage has always been a dream of mine. Having such a large platform to speak through my music is so powerful in itself,” said Yanina. “It's great working with people that are interested in the business and also musicians. To me it is very important to have a team that knows how to be a part of both worlds; because one doesn’t exist without the other."

“We are integrating the academics of a class with the live music industry. When we place an act in a festival slot, the promoter expects the same from us as any of the major agencies,” said Jeff Dorenfeld, founding managing director of BPMI. “Students are responsible for finding talent, rehearsing them for the festival stage, travel logistics, executing lengthy contracts, and meeting all production requirements. At the festivals, they are treated like every other artist on the lineup. It's demanding, but the experience is priceless.”

“As a Boston Conservatory at Berklee student, I thought my passion for music business was going to have to come on my own time,” said student Micah Welch, who is part of MDFK’s team. “Finding out about BPMI was a blessing because I’ve been able to have real-world experience and practical application of the skills I will need in the music industry.”

BPMI 2018 Summer Festival Schedule

Country LakeShake

Chicago, Illinois | June 22–24

Jacksonville KidArtist: Jacksonville Kid (Jacob Allen, Seamus Guy, Ian Schaid, and Victor Pacek)

Born and raised in Florida, student Jacob Allen (Jacksonville Kid) melds folk, rock, Americana, indie, and soul music into one great sound he likes to call "folk-swamp.”

Essence Festival

New Orleans, Louisiana | July 5–8

Singer YaninaArtist: Yanina (Yanina Johnson)

Yanina is a student singer-songwriter from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She sets out to be self-sufficient, getting involved in all aspects of music to bring her ideas and creations to life.


Chicago, Illinois | August 2–5

Emilia AliArtist: Emilia Ali (Emilia Ali, Vic Hafoka, David Kaminski, and Rhett Randolph)

Student Emilia Ali made waves in 2016 with her breathtaking vocal performance on VALNTN’s international hit “Can’t Let Go.” The song has garnered more than 14 million streams and sold more than 100,000 downloads.

Music Midtown

Atlanta, Georgia | September 15–16

Singer-songwriter Lyric RachaeArtist: Lyric Rachae (Lyric Stephen)

Lyric Rachae is an entertainer and singer-songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia, who attends Berklee on a full-tuition City Music scholaraship.

Osheaga Festival of Music and Art

Montreal, Canada | August 3–5

The band Luhx performing onstageArtist: Luhx. (Corinne Savage '17, Collin Keller B.M. '17, Elijah Davis, and Matthew Chenery)

A Boston-based synth-soul band, luhx. pairs undeniable grooves with melancholic lyrics to create haunting tunes with striking vocals.

Outside Lands

San Francisco, CA | August 1012

AJNAArtist: AJNA (Felipe Maldonado, Tommaso Tadonio '17, Zak Icaza, Aaron Kennedy, Sagiv Rosenstock, and Carlo de Biaggio)

AJNA combines indie, electronic, and glitch music to create glimpses of physical reality through sound.


Welcome to Rockville

Jacksonville, Florida | April 27–29

Metal band MDFKArtist: MDFK (Ethan Lewis, Alex Marlowe, Nick Antonelli, and Erik Thorstenn)

MDFK, hailing from Boston, fuses elements of thrash metal, death metal, and metalcore. Heavy breakdowns and fast riffing accompany politically charged lyrics.


BPMI is an immersive education program at Berklee that takes students from the classroom to the festival stage. Under the guidance of Dorenfeld, former manager of the band Boston, and Jeff Apruzzese, former bassist of Passion Pit, the students work in all facets of the music industry, including A&R, artist development, recording, booking, promotion, social media, sponsorship, and live shows. BPMI’s label, HRR, has released 18 albums since 1995, including Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic; Apollo Sunshine’s second album, coreleased with spinART; Dorm Sessions 1-12; and Under the Influence