Lee Eyes Career with Berklee Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees
When Haein Erin Lee enters the workforce this fall, she will be among the first to do so holding both bachelor's and master's degrees from Berklee College of Music. Prior to this year, Berklee only awarded bachelor’s degrees, which Lee received after years of study in Boston as a professional music major focusing on voice. With the establishment of master’s degree programs at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, however, now students can also take their music education to the next level, which is exactly what this ambitious alumna has done. Earlier this month, Lee received a master’s degree in global entertainment and music business as a member of Berklee in Valencia’s inaugural graduating class. Now she plans to put those degrees to use bringing Korean pop (K-pop) music to all corners of the globe.
Lee is from South Korea and lived in Canada for seven years prior to attending Berklee. Music has long been a large part of Lee’s life. In middle school, she was the producer and DJ of a lunchtime “radio show” broadcast over her school’s PA system. In high school, she played the flute in the band, and she has always enjoyed singing. Lee had many questions about studying in Valencia, from where she would live to who would be teaching most of her courses. Still, the decision to advance from an undergraduate degree at Berklee in Boston to a master’s degree at Berklee in Valencia was a leap of faith that she didn’t consider particularly risky.
“I trust Berklee, so I applied,” Lee says. “My overall experience at Berklee [in Boston] was always satisfying so when I chose Berklee in Valencia, I was like, ‘I know Berklee really cares about its students.’ So I just really trusted in that.”
After completing the intensive one-year master’s program in Valencia, Lee was equipped with a pairing of theory and practical skills that she says will give her a distinct advantage as she embarks on her career. She had already laid the groundwork during her undergraduate days in Boston, where she worked for Jazz Revelation Records, interned at the Panama Jazz Festival with Danilo Perez, and worked as a stage manager for several musical theater productions. In Valencia, she built upon her knowledge of music from the artist’s point of view with music business courses, one of which inspired her to pursue a career in exporting K-pop to western markets. In her final semester in Valencia, Lee applied her classroom knowledge to an internship at HallyuMotion, a Spain-based K-pop music enterprise.
“By working at HallyuMotion, I really saw the niche market and the consumer behavior of K-pop fans in Europe, and I was able to really engage with them,” Lee says.
That engagement included a recent business trip to Barcelona, where locals had organized a K-pop party. Few of the attendees were Asian, which helped solidify Lee’s thinking that one need not be Korean to enjoy K-pop music. This fall, she intends to return to Korea to pursue additional K-pop opportunities with an entertainment company looking to help Korean artists tour and sell their product overseas, and she feels confident about her odds of success.
A Recipe for Confidence
One source of Lee’s professional confidence is Berklee’s faculty. Lee cites a live entertainment business course with instructor Graham Ball, a former marketing director for Sony and Virgin, noting that it helped her to build a portfolio that showcases her abilities for live show design and management. She adds that Emilien Moyon, incoming program director for the Global Entertainment and Music Business program, and instructor David Loscos, formerly of BMG, were also instrumental in arming her with practical knowledge. Plus, she says, the Berklee name helps.
“Berklee is very well received and the Berklee reputation is very high in Korea,” Lee says. “So having both degrees from Berklee will definitely be a big advantage for me.”
Lastly, Lee's relatively unique blend of Berklee experiences will bolster her professional capacity. For Lee, the importance of this blend was crystallized when Robert Kraft, former chief executive of Fox Music, came to Berklee in Valencia as a guest speaker. Kraft told the students that his success as a businessman was partially due to his ability to think like an artist. After completing both degrees at Berklee, Lee sees a similar mix in herself.
“That’s my background, too,” she says. “I have both the artist’s mindset and the business mindset.”
Combined with her entrepreneurial spirit, that winning combination seems likely to serve Lee well as she strives to help K-pop artists succeed in new global markets.