Music and the Teenaged Entrepreneur

Rob Hochschild
May 31, 2016
Berklee partners with Brown University to offer the Creative Entrepreneurship Summer Program in July 2016.
Panos Panay, founding managing director of BerkleeICE
Image credit: Kelly Davidson

If you love music, you are already on a potential path toward entrepreneurship, says Panos Panay '94, founding managing director of the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). Berklee and Brown University are offering a program this summer that can help teens take that passion and potential and start to turn it into entrepreneurial muscle.

The Creative Entrepreneurship Summer Program is open to students aged 15 to 17 years old and will be held in Boston and Providence, Rhode Island from July 5 to 15, 2016. The following is an edited transcript of a conversation with Panos Panay about the program.

What is it that makes this program unique?

Unlike other Berklee programs, students aren't required to play an instrument. But they do have to be passionate about music. And they’ll be among peers from all over the world. We’ll have people from China and Bali and Turkey and all over the United States and other countries. They’ll be together for ten days, collaborating on projects that they'll take home and that will have a positive impact on their local communities.

In addition to using music as a coaching language, what makes the program unique is the combination of the two schools offering it, Berklee and Brown. This introduces a very unique type of instruction in the sense that it will be experienced on both campuses, juxtaposing the traditional Ivy League campus with the very hip urban campus of Berklee. Students will get a dual certificate from Brown and Berklee, and they’ll also get a sense of how to differentiate between schools as they decide where they’ll apply to college.

Tell us more about how you’ll use music as a metaphor for teaching entrepreneurship.

We'll bring them into spaces where music-making happens and focus on the synergy between entrepreneurship and music, including:

  • Ensemble rooms. We’ll have students from very diverse backgrounds—culturally, socially, musically—and we'll work with them in rehearsal spaces where we’ll coach them to think collaboratively and to develop listening skills;
  • Recording studios. When you have the skills of a producer, you can mobilize people to create something that sounds good in totality, while at the same time preserving both the integrity of the creator as well as maintaining the diversity of the different voices that are coming together to create it; and
  • Concert stages. If you have stage presence, you’ll be able to develop presentation skills or sales skills, which for me is one of the most important things to possess in life.

Which students will thrive in this program?

We’re looking for students who are creative and inherently curious. People who want to develop leadership skills, who are innovators, disrupters, who have ideas that they’re just burning to get out there. And someone who would welcome the duality of the Berklee-Brown experience, or who may be undecided whether or not they’re interested in pursuing a contemporary arts education or if they want to go to a more traditional university.

Tell us about the faculty.

There will be a number of chairs and prominent faculty members from both Brown and Berklee. People like Grammy Award–winning producer and engineer Prince Charles Alexander, music business faculty like TuneCore founder and former Rykodisc president George Howard, or hit songwriter Bonnie Hayes, who talks about the concept of writing a song as a metaphor for starting a business.

And people from the outside, such as MIT's Aithan Shapira, who will talk about art as a catalyst for innovation, and Ela Ben Ur, from Olin College, who will talk about a concept called the innovator’s compass—how to generate more innovative ideas.

Berklee summer programs usually end with student concerts. How will the entrepreneurship program conclude?

It will all end with the students doing presentations of their collective projects to a select group of judges from across different disciplines. The whole prospect of learning how to present, how to prepare and outline a presentation for something you are developing—we think that is going to be something unique and formative for the rest of their lives. Plus they’ll get feedback and coaching from the judges for how to turn those concepts into projects that are truly actionable after they return home.