Berklee Popular Music Institute Artists to Perform at Summer Festivals
Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) is sending six student and alumni artists from the college to perform at popular music festivals in the U.S. and Canada this summer. The program takes students from the classroom to the stage, providing an immersive experience in every aspect of artist development and touring—important preparation for a career in performance and in the music industry.
This year’s BPMI artists—MKULTRA, Jobi Riccio, ALX, Jackie Foster, Roy Juno, and GOLDSPACE + Good Company—will perform on the main stages at the Governors Ball in New York, May 31–June 2; Country LakeShake in Chicago, June 21–23; Essence Festival in New Orleans, July 5–7; Lollapalooza in Chicago, August 1–4; Osheaga in Montreal, August 2–4; and Music Midtown in Atlanta, September 14–15.
Under the guidance of Jeff Dorenfeld, founding managing director of BPMI, students in the three-semester class reviewed more than 250 submissions in the fall and selected the final artists based on recordings, videos, and live showcases. Each artist is paired with a group of three BPMI students who serve as their management team. Throughout the spring semester, the teams work with the artists on development, marketing, promotion, digital presence, merchandise, sponsorships, and tour budgets. In the final semester, the artists rehearse extensively and hit the road to their summer festivals, accompanied by their teams, who handle on-site promotion, production, and tour management.
“Seeing BPMI students working at the premier festivals in the country is the most rewarding experience I’ve had in my 20-plus years at Berklee,” said Dorenfeld. “Students working through the A&R process, advancing show demands, and preparing BPMI artists for the festival stage is an experiential education that sets Berklee apart from other colleges.”
“The fact that BPMI has my back makes me feel like I'm not alone up on that stage,” said BPMI artist Jackie Foster. “In 2014, when I received the Lollapalooza scholarship, I got to attend the festival that year. I remember watching the Berklee performer and seeing her sense of ease and unapologetic confidence on that stage. I knew my sights were set, that one day I'd be on the same stage. Five years later, here I am gearing up for one of the biggest stages, and it's all thanks to BPMI."
“We had a lot of great talent this year, but we wanted the music we brought to the festivals to reflect what most people are listening to,” said student Megan McLaughlin, who is part of ALX’s team. “We are confident that the artists chosen will be an incredible addition to each festival’s lineup. Each artist really brings something unique to the table, and we are elated to be working with them."
BPMI 2019 Summer Festivals Schedule
Featuring: Tyler, the Creator, Florence + the Machine, the Strokes
New York City, New York | May 31–June 2
Think of MKULTRA as the name of a cinematic universe. The Milk Man, Green Guy, Meat Man, and the Brain Child are all characters in this universe. On the album THE MKULTRA SHOW, the protagonist that speaks throughout most of the project is the Milk Man. MKULTRA draws listeners into his universe of experimental hip-hop and a world of new sounds and feelings.
Featuring Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan
Chicago, Illinois | June 21–23
Artist: Jobi Riccio
Jobi Riccio is a student songwriter and performer from Denver, Colorado. Inspired by artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, and classic country and bluegrass, she writes songs with a folk and roots sensibility. Riccio has received acclaim for her writing, including being a finalist in the 2018 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase. She also appeared on the Women In Music Spain chapter’s compilation Sincerely, Women. Her EP Strawberry Wine came out on February 5.
Featuring Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Maze
New Orleans, Louisiana | July 5–7
ALX (Aaron Gregory) is a student singer-songwriter from Jacksonville, Florida. “I used to be that nerdy kid that would spend his weekends watching Dragon Ball Z,” said ALX. “Now I'm that nerdy kid that spends his weekends watching Dragon Ball Z and making music.” He began following his passion at 14 and has since opened for T.I. and ELHAE. His creative lyricism, intricate beats, and influences—such as Trey Songz, Big Sean, Eric Bellinger, Omarion, and Ty Dolla $ign—are reflected in his music.
Featuring the Chainsmokers, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots
Chicago, Illinois | August 1–4
Artist: Jackie Foster
An award-winning vocalist from San Diego, California, Jackie Foster B.M. ‘18 comes full circle as the first recipient of the Berklee Lollapalooza Endowed Scholarship to perform at the festival. Foster distinguished herself as a semifinalist on season 14 of NBC’s hit show The Voice, and was mentored by Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, and Alicia Keys. Whether it’s pop, rock, R&B, or jazz, Foster’s warm, rich tone and powerhouse vocals can fill up a room and leave audiences wanting more. She is currently writing and planning to release new original music in 2019.
Featuring the Lumineers, the Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala
Montreal, Canada | August 2–4
Artist: Roy Juno
Roy Juno is the name shared by three Allston, Massachusetts–based producers/instrumentalists. Led by lyricist/frontman Sayak Das B.M. ‘18, Roy Juno blends themes like struggling with identity, glorifying false heroes, and celebrity ego death, with sound design that transports the listener to an era where synthesizers were the vanguard of sensible pop. Rhythm section Henri Young B.M. ‘17 (bass/synthesizer) and Josh Parra ‘17 (drums, auxiliary sampling) pride themselves on seamlessly blending a wide range of backgrounds, resulting in a truly modern pop sound.
Featuring Travis Scott, Panic! at the Disco, Billie Eilish
Atlanta, Georgia | September 14–15
Artist: GOLDSPACE + Good Company
GOLDSPACE is an electro-pop/hip-hop duo composed of students Maia Quin and Andre Samuel. Their sound could be described as a blend of future R&B and hip-hop, although style and genre don't limit them from using all kinds of sounds and influences. With only three singles out, GOLDSPACE has appeared multiple times on Spotify’s biggest playlists, including Fresh Finds and Poptronix, and they plan to release a series of singles and short EPs throughout 2019. GOLDSPACE frequently performs with Good Company, featuring producer and DJ Trey Kams and rapper Zaco, both fellow Berklee students.
BPMI is an immersive education program at Berklee that takes students from the classroom to the festival stage. Under the guidance of Jeff Dorenfeld, founding managing director, and Morgan Milardo, media and opperations manager, 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, Heavy Rotation Records, has released 18 albums since 1995, including Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic; Apollo Sunshine’s second album, coreleased with spinART; Dorm Sessions 1–13; and Under the Influence.
Heavy Rotation releases have featured tracks by Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Christopher Barnes (Gem Club), Shea Rose, Nini & Ben (HAERTS), Big D & the Kids Table, and members of Passion Pit (as the Peasantry). The label presents events and artists in the Boston area and at some of the music industry’s largest festivals, including Lollapalooza (Chicago, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil), Osheaga, and SXSW. The label also serves as a springboard for careers in the music industry. HRR alumni have gone on to work at Interscope, Capitol, DreamWorks, BMG, Universal, Live Nation, AEG Live, Oak View Group, DWP, Bowery Presents, YouTube/Google, CAA, ICM, Paradigm, WME, Billions, Snapchat, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Red Bull, Spotify, Stem, Republic, Red Light Management, Songkick, and C3.