A Conversation with Scott LeGere

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Slam Academy Launches Music Industry Program

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – March 9, 2018 @ Slam Academy  – We welcomed a quick visit with Scott LeGere, McNally Smith’s former Music Business department head, as he was in between meetings, for an opportunity to catch up with his busy life.  Scott is joining Slam Academy this spring to teach the new Music Industry Program. Slam Academy has always offered students various vocational programs in music production and performance, and with the addition of the Music Industry Program, students can now round out their Slam Academy education with industry and career advancing concepts including copyright, business registration, marketing, and emerging revenue sources.  Over the past 15 years, LeGere has played key roles in the ownership and operation of audio recording facilities, independent record labels, media schools, and commercial music production companies. During this time, he has engineered Grammy nominated albums, produced critically acclaimed independent projects, and lectured nationally in industry focused conferences and university classrooms.

 

Tanya Lano, Slam Academy Recruitment Specialist:

“First of all a big Thank You for coming in today and supporting us with the launch of the new Music Industry Program.  We understand you have spent many wonderful years with McNally, and many other schools. We are curious on your perspective on education, how people are getting their education, and your feelings about the closing of McNally.”

Scott LeGere:

“Hey Tanya, thank you, glad to be here. From a macro level, the educational world is changing. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone because the entire world is changing.  Technology, automation, tools powered by the internet, etc and mobile access are fundamentally changing businesses all over the world. When the largest hotel chain is Airbnb and they don’t own any hotel rooms you see a change is afoot.  When the largest taxi company is Uber and doesn’t own any vehicles you see change is afoot. The internet really is a great democratizer. And that’s a good thing. If there is information you want to learn about you can probably find it online, provided by a whole slew of talented individuals.  One of the biggest challenges of higher education is the high cost.

“One of the reasons why I am excited to teach at Slam Academy is seeing the community that has formed around the classes and offerings here.   I had the honor of speaking at a graduation this past summer and was really blown away to see all the instructors at Slam Academy having really intimate and deep knowledge of all of their students.  This is a specialty school, though you could say it’s not a school, it’s a community education location! Slam Academy doesn’t have an infrastructure of a larger institution, you don’t have this department or that department, you don’t have subjects siloed away in a governance system that was derived hundreds of years ago.  I think education is ripe for evolution and revolution, and in many ways Slam Academy is on the forefront of that. Seeing how community minded and supportive the students were here of each other, the faculty knowledge of all the students, so of course I was excited to lend a hand and teach the Music Industry Program. After talking to some of the team here you probably would have done it without me with someone else because it’s a natural step for this group, but I’m thrilled to be able to be here.”

Tanya Lano:

“Speaking of the internet, you hit a good point.  It has allowed us a non-traditional educational approach, having access to video tutorials, manuals to download, and it’s also changed how people release their music with emerging independent record labels, etc.”

Scott LeGere:

“You can joke it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times.  The internet, the way a lot of people in Silicon Valley refer to it, it’s disruptive. Digital technology is disruptive.  It’s not just the internet, it’s the ability to share processes and share documents, powered by global communication. It’s disruptive. Well, in disruption some business plans are challenged. But, within disruption some business plans can really grow and prosper.  What’s interesting is, just coming from a production standpoint, and this has been the heart of Slam Academy’s mission, is that to make music 20 years ago and to make a record, you might have needed a million dollar recording studio. The only way you would be able to afford that is to basically get a loan from a record label or a publishing company and go through this whole mechanization and system.  If you didn’t fit into the cookie cutter box that that system was looking for, and if you didn’t fit the sound or the look, you might not have ever gotten those opportunities. There were some great records that came out over the last couple of decades, but we have to assume that there are some phenomenal talents that never got that opportunity. Today, with a laptop you can make a record in your basement, in your bedroom, in your garage, it’s really exciting. This aspect of technology has democratized production and allows anyone to come forward and make their art. That’s fantastic.  Now, there is an equally challenging prospect to that. More and more people are making records. When I entered the studio world in the late 90’s on average about 30,000 albums came out per year in the United States. Today, we are seeing over 20,000 records get uploaded per week to Beatport. We are looking at about 100 times the amount of content coming out on a weekly basis. This is where the Music Industry Program fits in. Open up your laptop, grab a controller, plug into Ableton and start making some exciting music. The challenges become where you can do it, but so can anyone else.  How do you break through the 5000 other tracks that were released that day? How do you start to build a name and a career for yourself? Those are the things we are going to start to talk about.”

Tanya Lano:

“Would you agree that some employers are looking for collaboration skill sets coming into the workplace?”

Scott LeGere:

“Unquestionably. I’m over simplifying here, but because I’ve been teaching for 16 years, I’ve been fairly diligent at reading job openings and postings. I want to know what companies are looking for so I can help make that transition for our students.  The older model was the Bachelor’s Degree, for years and years, we saw you must have a BA, lately over the last two years I’m seeing “college recommended.” I’m guessing that recommendation is based on you’re going to have some maturity, follow through, and with tremendous amount of valuable things that can come out of college.  The skills that people are asking for are softer than they have ever been. We need collaborators, communicators, ‘thinking on our feet’ people, and paratroopers, as in can you jump into our problem here and help out with whatever the effort is.”

Tanya Lano:

“When big changes happen it can bring out the best in people and you hit a good point, Scott, of being community minded and supported. Getting a business program running at Slam Academy is definitely a natural step for us.  Our students are excited to get support to release their music, and have been asking their teachers great questions for business tactics. Just know how happy we are to have you help guide our ship.”

Scott LeGere:

“I think ‘guide’ is much too strong a word! At the most, maybe I can help to point in a certain direction and we all can collectively run that way together. I think what I’ve been able to see, getting into the studio business in the 90’s, and watching it grow and watching it collapse, and suddenly get radically challenged from home studios. I’ve watched the studio business flip upside down, along with the label business, advertising and post production, and now it’s the education business that is flipping upside down. Since I’ve lived through so many of those changes, I’ve had the opportunity to see what they become.  And almost always the results have been positive. Sure we can bemoan the loss of some of our great recordings studios in America that have been turned into condos, or something else, but I wouldn’t trade today’s era for a moment. When a motivated young person can share their story they want to share with the world with an app like Ableton or GarageBand, today is just too exciting. That’s the piece I’ve been trying to bring to the classroom for 16 years. I’ll get on a soapbox, and get upset, for generations, whenever someone has talked about the arts, the immediate response is, ‘you shouldn’t do it, you’re never going to make it, you shouldn’t date musicians,’ and so forth.  We’re looking at an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds. Now that streaming has become the preferred platform for listening, we’re looking at annual revenues at publishing companies, distributors and record labels that are increasing by significant factors. A record group, Awol, which is a subsidiary of Colbalt, the European publishing giant, they just had a 100% increase in revenue from 2016 to 2017. Most small businesses are happy when they have a 5% year-to-year growth, not 100% year-to-year growth. We are seeing streaming rates jump all over the world by 50-80%. We realize with these devices we can get a Spotify or Apple music account, more people are listening to more music, more money is flowing into the system, because this is an industry that is growing. We have more television channels, commercials, films that are being produced that need more music, more radios opportunities whether they are terrestrial or streaming, there is a great demand for music.  Music is what makes the world go around. It’s still one of the most powerful forms of communication on the planet.”

Tanya Lano:

“I like that point, Scott, that looking at this as not a crisis, but an opportunity.  Sometimes we see so much negative out there, but it’s great to have a positive and optimistic look for our future leaders.”

Scott LeGere:

“I’ve seen it.  The inspiration that J (Dr. J Anthony Allen) and JP (James Patrick) and other instructors bring to students. One class is teaching the excitement that comes from these new digital tools and I’m going to try to teach the excitement that comes from a globally connected community of people listening to music. And how to tap into them and hopefully over time how to accrue more listeners and convert some listeners into fans.”

 

Watch Scott LeGere’s Ted Talk X @ Carlton College

 

Since the closing of McNally Smith, Slam Academy has enrolled a handful of their displaced students through the McNally Smith Transfer Scholarship. While some students have chosen to start with one program, others have looked to Slam Academy to wholly replace their music education, enrolling in all available programs. The Music Industry Program will launch on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, running 11am – 2pm weekly for 12 weeks. Slam Academy also offers free 2-hour introduction classes one week prior to all program starts; the Introduction to Music Industry class will be held Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 11am.