In a business where success is unpredictable, many people considering a career in the music industry — from being a studio engineer to being Bruce Springsteen — have no idea how to break in.
Michelle Shaprow ’04, Kenneth Dean ’03 and David Silverman LAW ’05 are making efforts to get more of their fellow Yalies interested in the entertainment industry, especially the business side. As the founders of the Entertainment Society, they have been working to bring major players in the industry to Yale.
“A big part of moving ahead in that industry is who you know,” Dean said.
On Feb. 7, Bill Flanagan, senior vice president of VH1, will come to Yale as the first of the speakers for the Entertainment Society’s series. Shaprow said she hopes Yale students will be able to develop relations with people in the industry by inviting people like King Brit, a well-known DJ in Europe and Bill Krasilovsky, a leading entertainment lawyer in New York City, among many others, to speak at Yale.
Shaprow said record label A&R — people who sign artists to labels and watch after their careers — have expressed interest in coming to lecture at Yale.
“Yale just has this aura about it. It’s not like Harvard. People are curious about it in a different way,” Dean sad.
Among the organization’s goals is to get Yale students who are interested in becoming artists to gain a better understanding of the business side of the entertainment industry, Dean and Shaprow said.
“I think it is important for artists who are purists, who try to avoid anything having to do with business or the industry, to know more about the business because it’s hard to change something without understanding it,” Shaprow said. “I feel that the music industry is really changing a lot, especially with downloadable music. I think the independent [record labels] are going to be getting a lot bigger.”
In turn, she said, these changes will lead to a higher quality of music as artists become more familiar with other facets of their business.
Bianca Bracho-Perez ’06, who is hoping to help with the speaker series, said she thought it is “a really good opportunity for [Yale] performers to see what kind of resources are out there.”
“A lot of times people are really good at what they do and they’re not focused on publicizing themselves,” she said.
By hosting this lecture series, the Entertainment Society hopes to help Yale students who aspire to become involved with the industry find a network to help them capitalize on their talent.
“I think that Yale students would have a lot to contribute in the music industry, an industry that’s not known for its academics,” Shaprow said.
But the entertainment speaker series is not only for those who are planning on going into entertainment after graduation.
“We want everyone involved,” Shaprow said.