Berklee Popular Music Institute Artists to Perform at Summer Music Festivals
Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) is sending six 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; and Outside Lands in San Francisco on August 10–12.
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 singer Yanina, 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.
“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
Welcome to Rockville | Featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Avenged Sevenfold, Foo Fighters
Friday, April 27
MDFK, hailing from Boston, fuses elements of thrash metal, death metal, and metalcore. Heavy breakdowns and fast riffing accompany politically charged lyrics. MDFK has made a name for itself in the New England thrash community for its unpredictable and explosive live performances. The group—composed of students Ethan Lewis, Alex Marlowe, Nick Antonelli, and Erik Thorstenn—is heading into the studio to record its debut EP in March.
Country LakeShake | Featuring Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line
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.” Jacksonville Kid is an energy-packed experience that pairs dueling fiddle and electric guitar parts with folksy songwriting and heartfelt melodies. The group also features students Seamus Guy, Ian Schaid, and Victor Pacek.
Essence Festival | Featuring Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu
Saturday, July 7
Yanina is a student singer-songwriter from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She sets out to be self-sufficient, getting involved in all aspects of music—including production, business, and performance—to bring her ideas and creations to life. As she recognized the lack of female representation in the entertainment industry, she formed SheReigns, an all-women's artist collective that has performed across Europe and continues to develop in Boston.
Lollapalooza | Featuring Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Jack White
Saturday, August 4
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. Her 2017 debut EP, Dreamland, debuted at no. 24 on the iTunes Pop Chart and appeared on the Spotify Viral chart in multiple countries. In January, Ali released Dreamland (Extended), featuring “Thick Thighs," through Listen for Pleasure/Capitol Records. Ali’s band includes students Vic Hafoka, David Kaminski, and Rhett Randolph.
Osheaga | Featuring Travis Scott, Arctic Monkeys, Florence + the Machine
Saturday, August 4
A Boston-based synth-soul band, luhx. pairs undeniable grooves with melancholic lyrics to create haunting tunes with striking vocals. Composed of Corinne Savage '17 and Collin Keller B.M. '17, and students Elijah Davis and Matthew Chenery, the group has become a must-see act, bringing its high-energy, self-designed 3-D multimedia experience to sold-out clubs and intimate living room shows. The band has shared bills with Lido, Los Elk, and Brynn Elliott, and was featured at Spotify’s Women in Music Showcase and at a Sofar Sounds event.
AJNA combines the eclectic sounds of indie, electronic, and glitch music to create glimpses of physical reality through sound. Founded by student vocalist and guitarist Felipe Maldonado, the group includes Tommaso Tadonio '17 on keys and synthesizer and students Zak Icaza on drums, Aaron Kennedy on backing vocals and OP1 sampler, Sagiv Rosenstock on guitar, and Carlo de Biaggio on bass.
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.