Music Industry News Network [02-23-2018]

Berklee Popular Music Institute Showcases Artists Heading To 2018 Summer Music Festivals


Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) presents its 18th annual Epic Event, showcasing artists chosen by students in the experience-based program. The show features pop, rock, Americana, R&B, and electro-pop by students and alumni luhx., Emilia Ali, Jacksonville Kid, Yanina, AJNA, and MDFK. BPMI enables students to go from the classroom to the stage in every facet of artist development and touring – important preparation for a performance career. The cornerstone is the opportunity for students to perform at some of the most popular summer music festivals. This year’s artists will head to Essence Festival, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, Outside Lands, Welcome to Rockville, and Country LakeShake.

BPMI’s Epic Event returns to The Sinclair for the third year on Tuesday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. The Sinclair is located at 52 Church St., Cambridge, MA. The show is $5 with any student ID. General admission is $10. For tickets and information, visit

Students in BPMI’s A&R group reviewed more than 300 submissions in the fall and narrowed the field through a combination of factors, including recordings, videos, social media presence, and live audition showcases for the finalists. They also considered the artist’s style of music for genre specific festivals like Welcome to Rockville (metal) and Country LakeShake (country/Americana). Each artist is working with a team of three BPMI students throughout the spring, preparing for the summer festival season. Turning their classroom work into action, the teams handle artist development, marketing, promotion, tour budgets, digital presence, merchandise, and sponsorships.

“We are integrating the academics of a class with the live music industry. When we place an act in a festival slot, the promoter expects the same from us as any of the major agencies,” said Jeff Dorenfeld, founding managing director of BPMI. “Students are responsible for finding talent, rehearsing them for the festival stage, travel logistics, executing lengthy contracts, and meeting all production requirements. At the festivals, they are treated like every other artist on the lineup. It's demanding, but the experience is priceless.”

About the Artists:

Luhx., a Boston-based synth-soul band, pairs undeniable grooves with melancholic lyrics to create haunting tunes with striking vocals. Composed of alumni Corinne Savage and Collin Keller, and students Elijah Davis and Matthew Chenery, the group has become a must see act, bringing their high energy, self-designed 3-D multimedia experience to stages from sold out clubs to intimate living room shows. They have shared bills with Lido, Los Elk, and Brynn Elliott, and were featured at Spotify’s Women in Music Showcase and at a Sofar Sounds event.

Student Emilia Ali made waves in 2016 with her breathtaking vocal performance on VALNTN’s international hit “Can’t Let Go.” The song has garnered more than 14 million streams and sold more than 100,000 downloads. Her 2017 debut EP, Dreamland, debuted at no. 24 on the iTunes Pop Chart and appeared on the Spotify Viral chart in multiple countries. In January, Ali released Dreamland (Extended), featuring “Thick Thighs," through Listen For Pleasure/Capitol Records. Ali’s band includes students Vic Hafoka, David Kaminski, and Rhett Randolph.

Born and raised in Florida, student Jacob Allen–aka the Jacksonville Kid–melds together folk, rock, Americana, indie, and soul music into one great sound he likes to call "folk-swamp.” Jacksonville Kid is an energy packed experience that pairs dueling fiddle and electric guitar parts with folksy-driven songwriting and heartfelt melodies. The group also features students Seamus Guy, Ian Schaid, and Victor Pacek.

Yanina is a student singer-songwriter from Cambridge, MA. She sets out to be self sufficient, getting involved in all aspects of music–including production, business and performance–to bring her ideas and creations to life. As she learned to recognize the lack of female representation in the entertainment industry, she formed SheReigns,an all women's artist collective that has performed across Europe and continues to develop in Boston.

AJNA combines the eclectic sounds of indie, electronic, and glitch music to create glimpses of physical reality through sound. Founded by student vocalist and guitarist Felipe Maldonado, the group includes students Zak Icaza on drums, Aaron Kennedy on backing vocals and OP1 sampler, Saguiv Rosenstock on guitar, and Carlo de Biaggio on bass; and alumnus Tommaso Tadionio on keys and synthesizer.

MDFK, hailing from Boston, MA, fuses elements of thrash metal, death metal, and metalcore. Heavy breakdowns and fast riffing accompany politically charged lyrics. MDFK has made a name for themselves in the New England thrash community for their unpredictable and explosive live performances. The group–composed of students Ethan Lewis, Alex Marlowe, Nick Antonelli, and Erik Thorstenn–is heading into the studio to record their debut EP in March.

BPMI is an immersive education program at Berklee that takes students from the classroom to the festival stage. Under the guidance of Dorenfeld, former manager of the band Boston, and Jeff Apruzzese, former bassist of Passion Pit, the students work in all facets of the music industry, including A&R, artist development, recording, booking, promotion, social media, sponsorship, and live shows. BPMI’s label HRR has released 18 albums since 1995, including Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic; Apollo Sunshine’s second CD, co-released with spinART; Dorm Sessions 1-12; and Under the Influence.

Many up-and-coming artists have appeared on HRR albums, including Annie Clark (St. Vincent), Christopher Barnes (Gem Club), Shea Rose, Nini & Ben (HAERTS), Big D & the Kids Table, and members of Passion Pit (as the Peasantry). The label presents events and artists in the Boston area and at some of the music industry’s largest festivals, including Lollapalooza (Chicago, Chile, and Brazil), Osheaga, and SXSW. The label also serves as a springboard for careers in the music industry. HRR alumni have gone on to work at Interscope, Capitol, DreamWorks, BMG, Universal, Live Nation, AEG Live, YouTube/Google, CAA, ICM, Paradigm, WME, Billions, Snapchat, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Red Bull, Spotify, Stem, Republic, Red Light Management, Songkick, and C3.


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