Those enrolled in the university program are helping promote and stage Thursday’s Grand Rapids tour stop by pop singer Sinclair, just one of many music industry experiences offered to MEB students.
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Nashville’s Sinclair and West Michigan’s Olivia & The Aquatic Troupe play The Stache inside The Intersection at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4. Tickets for the all-ages show are $12 advance, available at sectionlive.com, or $15 day of show. Doors open at 6 p.m. Scroll down for a video of Sinclair’s hit single, “This Too Shall Pass.”
When Ferris State University’s Music and Entertainment Business program presents pop/rock artist Sinclair at The Intersection’s Stache on Thursday, it will be the first time this unique college program has produced a concert at the Grand Rapids venue.
It’s another example of ways that the music industry program, part of Ferris’ College of Business, is evolving to meet the challenges of a constantly changing music industry – and giving students real-life experience in the process.
“We have to strive to anticipate what is going to be needed and at least expose our students to this variety of elements in the marketplace,” Ferris State University College of Business Dean David Nicol said.
“Who knows what the nature of the industry will be, but if they’ve got a sense of the diverse elements, they can move in any direction.”
Several students from the program are involved in organizing and assisting with Thursday’s show featuring Sinclair – a Nashville-based singer who’s toured with Kacey Musgraves and who scored a hit single with “This Too Shall Pass” – and West Michigan’s own Olivia & The Aquatic Troupe.
Tasks include promoting the show, handling social media, working the merchandise table and shadowing professionals running lighting, sound and production.
“We are so excited to be co-sponsoring the Sinclair show with The Intersection. Expanding to the Grand Rapids scene was a big move for our program, but we feel it will be very rewarding for our fellow students,” said student Veronica Leigh Anderson, who designed and distributed the show poster, coordinated promotions and otherwise helped organize the event.
ROBUST CLASSES, GETTING EXPERIENCE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
“As for Sinclair, she’s such a fun and dynamic performer. The team and I are stoked for everyone to see her perform live.”
Paul Kwant serves as advisor for the university’s Music and Entertainment Business program, formerly known as Music Industry Management.
“The College of Business offers a robust core of classes that prepare students as future business professionals,” said Kwant, a Big Rapids native who graduated from Belmont University in Nashville and has held multiple internships at booking agencies, production companies, publishing companies and major record labels.
The revamped program – with nearly 100 students enrolled — offers career pathway opportunities in the music business with exposure to products, recorded music and live music promotion. Students take business classes as well as fulfilling the requirements of the music and entertainment concentration, and complete two internships (including those offered by Local Spins) to graduate.
“A band is essentially a business. There’s money to keep track of, people working behind the scenes to book shows and help with promotion,” said MEB junior Rocky Hutchins of Albion. “It’s very helpful to be well-rounded and have knowledge and experience with music itself in the music industry.”
Hutchins aims to work in music production, recording and live sound. He is an assistant in the MEBA recording studio and has been involved in recording and producing multiple projects. One of Hutchins’ goals is to land an internship with Third Coast Recording Co. in Grand Haven. He is also the drummer in the band Paper Lanterns.
PROGRAM NAME CHANGE BUT STILL GIVING STUDENTS LIVE SHOW EXPERIENCE
A December 2018 graduate of the program, Juliana Wheeler, lives and works in Grand Rapids, serving as a stagehand at 20 Monroe Live. She’s also worked as a lighting designer for a handful of shows, as well as serving as an intern with Odyssey Lighting in Grandville.
“One valuable connection I made was with the production manager at 20 Monroe Live,” Wheeler said. “She attended our advisory board, and I was able to speak with her about potential internships at the venue. Once summer rolled around, she reached out to me about a production internship which I ended up receiving, and that led me to the job I have now.”
Another graduate, Eric Szczepanski, serves on the Fenton Community Orchestra (FCO) Board of Directors and the City of Fenton Art and Cultural Commission (FACC). He is also a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
“Everything we learned in the classroom, from music licensing and contracts to marketing strategies and governmental advocacy, prepared us to produce a successful live concert,” Szczepanski said. “These are all skills that I continue to use today and bring to the table as a board member of FCO and FACC.”
Launched in 1995, Ferris’ Music Industry Management program initially focused on giving students experience with producing live concerts. On average, one large show was produced per semester.
Even though live shows are still important, Kwant said the revised Music and Entertainment Business program aims to offer more exposure to a wider array of industry functions. It also gives students a chance to choose a concentration, because music has become more entertainment-based.
The name of the program officially changed in time for the fall 2018 semester, with the first MEB degrees awarded this spring. (Ferris also recently signed an agreement that allows students to begin degree studies at West Shore Community College in Muskegon and finish the program at Ferris.)
Fifty students in the program also are members of the Music Entertainment Business Association, which provides additional opportunities to gain exposure in the music industry. Group members meet industry professionals, go on tours of businesses and gain experience in leadership positions.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Katlin Merby is a student in Ferris’ MEB program and a former Local Spins intern.
VIDEO: Sinclair, “This Too Shall Pass”
VIDEO: Sinclair, “Pop! Champagne”
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