Find Out About Inside Sessions' "Music Sessions"
Part 1: Universal Music Group's Distance Learning Course for Aspiring Artists, Songwriters and Music Business Professionals
I recently had the opportunity to speak with InsideSessions President Lori Weintraub and Senior Vice President Lori DeWolfe about "MusicSessions," the innovative, multi-media distance-learning course about the music business. MusicSession is one of two courses offered through InsideSessions. The other course is called "WritingSessions" and it focuses on book writing. For the purpose of the MusicDish article, we focused our discussion on MusicSessions.
We talked about how InsideSessions was created and about the goals for the two companies behind InsideSessions: Universal Music Group, the largest music company in the world and Penguin Putnam, Inc., publishers of some of the best selling authors of our time. We also discussed the content of MusicSessions and what the companies hope the courses will do for aspiring artists, songwriters, and those interested in entering the music business. A detailed listing of MusicSessions course content, contact information, and bios of Lori Weintraub and Lori DeWolfe can be found at the end of this interview.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] Welcome, Lori Weintraub and Lori DeWolfe, to MusicDish. We appreciate your taking some time in your busy schedules to speak with us today about the on-line courses offered through InsideSessions. Could we start with an overview of InsideSessions?
Lori Weintraub InsideSessions is a digital learning business that we started creating about a year and a half ago. It's a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Penguin Putnam, Inc. We started by creating two on-line learning programs. The "MusicSessions" course is targeted to those who are interested in becoming part of the music business as a recording artist, songwriter or even as a record producer or record executive. The course, "WritingSessions," is for people who want to get involved in the book writing and book publishing business in some way.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] I reviewed the MusicSessions course in preparation for our interview, Lori. The materials contained in the course are quite substantial. Where did you find all of the materials used for MusicSessions?
Lori Weintraub We interviewed 90 of the top people in the music business from every facet of the music business. In terms of artists, we did in depth interviews with people like Elton John, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Enrique Iglesias, as well as some new artists like Nelly and Shaggy, Fred Durst, and 3 Doors Down. We interviewed the heads of top record labels like Tommy Mottola, Chairman & CEO of Sony Music Entertainment; Russell Simmons, Chairman & CEO of Rush Communications; Jimmy Iovine, Chairman, of Interscope Geffen A&M Records; Lyor Cohen, President and CEO of Island Def Jam Music Group; and, Ahmet Ertegun, Founder and Co-Chairman of Atlantic Records. From the producer ranks, we interviewed people such as Sir George Martin, Glen Ballard, and Matt Serletic. We also interviewed top lawyers like Allen Grubman and Don Passman, among many other music business professionals.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] What kinds of topics did your chose to talk about, Lori?
Lori Weintraub During our interviews with these people, we focused on issues that we thought people would be interested in learning: how to record a demo, what a record company looks for in a demo, how to get your music heard by a record label, and topics about songwriting and publishing. We also have great interviews with songwriters like Bernie Taupin, Gary Burr, Will Jennings, and Shep Crawford. All of the interviews are done in streaming video and are available on CD Rom for people who don't have broadband.
Beyond the interviews, we've added a lot of additional materials that are designed to let our members go deeper into a subject. For instance, if entertainment attorney Don Passman is talking about certain deal points in his interview, you can go look at a sample record contract. You can even go deeper into that topic and read excerpts from Don's book, All You Need To Know About The Music Business (Simon and Schuster).
You will find this kind of additional material for all of the different subjects contained in MusicSessions. For example, if we are talking about marketing a record, we have video footage of an actual record label marketing meeting. Or, when we interview record producer and engineer Thom Panunzio about what goes on in a recording studio, we actually go into a studio to see what everybody does. Using streaming video, we look at some of the equipment they use and how to use Pro Tools. All of this is found on the site. There is a great wealth of ancillary information within the sections of each course that our content editors have compiled. There are even things such as original lyrics written by Bernie Taupin written on a piece of paper! The technology allows us to share a lot of great information.
[The Aspiring Songwriter] I saw Bernie Taupin's lyrics Ė it was great! Lori, how did the concept for InsideSessions come about in the first place? Did it originate through the founding partners, Universal Music Group and Penguin Putnam, Inc.?
Lori Weintraub Yes, it started out with Doug Morris, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group and Phyllis Grann, President of Penguin Putnam. They were considering teaching a class together at Columbia University about the music and publishing businesses. As they were putting their ideas together, they said, "Why don't we do this on-line and reach a really broad audience?" Doug and Phyllis then brought me into the project.
At that point, we decided to expand the resources for the courses that were available to us from Universal Music Group and Penguin Putnam. Through the companies, we were able to reach out to a lot of talented people, who shared information that will allow people to understand the music and book publishing businesses. For MusicSessions, the interviews help people to get beyond the mystery of the music business. What really goes on at a record label? We're trying to help people to break through the illusions and the mystery. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the music business.
Part 2, The MusicSessions Course, next!