Institute from other music schools in the country ?
Harris : Both programs feature experiential learning with students forming production companies , management companies , operating Confidential Records and other real time major group projects that involve contracts and money . There is a heavy emphasis on major projects that are based somewhat on a master ’ s degree format where students actually execute what we have taught them . For example , in the audio production program , they start in the third term and final term when most of these projects happen , students form production companies of four people , and they go out and find an artist they wish to work with and enter into an agreement with that artist and there ’ s only two criteria for those agreements . One is that the artist they choose has to be commercially viable , and the students need to show exactly how they are commercially viable . The agreements also have to have money in them . We ’ re not training people to have a hobby ; we ’ re training them to make a living , and to make a living , that involves contracts and money . After that agreement is executed with the artist , the production company goes to our studio manager and enters into a studio agreement whereby they are given keys to the studio and to the building , and then they commence a major recording project where they go through pre-production , working on the songs , the arrangements and the structures , then they figure out a schedule , they bring the artist into the studio and record bed tracks , vocals , overdubs , mix , et cetera , then they master the recording , and we invite in two or three record companies and each production companies pitches the record companies to try and get a record deal , just like the real world . That ’ s a good example of the experiential nature of many of the courses in the third term .
CM : What are some aspects of the Harris Institute you might not find at other schools ?
Harris : Harris Institute has the highest percentage of awardwinning faculty of any school anywhere with over 50 % having won awards for what they teach . It is unlikely any other school has even 10 %. Most schools have people teaching who may have done it at some point in the past but aren ’ t current , or they ’ re wannabes or never-weres , and that makes a huge difference . Students are getting up-to-theminute information not just from someone who is actually doing it , but someone who is winning awards for doing it . We ’ ve got 56 members of the faculty , and they ’ re all part-time , and they ’ re all leaders in their fields , therefore they know everybody . The faculty has played a major role in hooking up people with ideal jobs . When you enter the industry with an ideal job , the likelihood that it ’ s going to work out increases exponentially .
CM : How have you watched the school grow and expand since its inception , and where do see it going in the foreseeable future ?
Harris : Harris Institute now offers graduates the option of earning BA and BSc degrees in eight months at the University of the West of Scotland with tuitions waived .
We are increasingly focusing on entrepreneurship to enable graduates to start companies on their own . The other emphasis is on all things marketing , which is the new centre of the global music industry . The simplest explanation is that in the previous paradigm of the record industry , it was pretty well 100 % controlled by a small number of major , multi-national record companies , mostly located in Los Angeles , New York City , London , Nashville and Tokyo — not in Canada . If you weren ’ t in some way connected to a major , multinational record company , you weren ’ t in the game at all . Therefore , the centre of the entire industry was that relatively small number of major record companies . Since the introduction of electronic distribution on the web , everything has changed . Now , everybody ’ s in the game and that ’ s great on one hand , but that ’ s not so great on the other hand , because the clutter is enormous , and finding anything is next to impossible . Creative marketing has taken the new central role to the entire industry . You can be doing something that ’ s absolutely first-rate that nobody will ever know about unless you ’ re involved with someone who ’ s very good on the marketing side . So , in the last 10 years , little by little , in the management program , there has been a dramatic increase in emphasis related to marketing . We ’ ve got about 11 different courses — everything related to marketing because that is where the opportunities are , because that is where the growth is and that is where the successes will happen .
Manus Hopkins is a musician & freelance journalist based in Toronto .
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