The Herald-Times

Ivy Tech summer camp helps teens learn business side of music
Entrepalooza class teaches students how to market, record their own albums

By April Toler 331-4353 |
June 23, 2012

At 15 years old, guitarist A.J. Flynn is serious about his desire to be a successful musician. The Bloomington native has been writing and playing music for the past few years.

“I’m in the middle of recording my own album, and I’ve been recording with bands for the past couple years,” he said.

While being in a recording studio is nothing new to A.J., marketing and selling his music is a different subject.

That’s why he decided to take part in a recent Ivy Tech summer camp program that provided teenagers like him a chance to learn about the business side of making music.

“It’s something as musicians when you’re first starting out, it’s there and you’re working on it, but you don’t really think about it in details,” A.J. said. “Something that is important is who your key audience is. That’s something I hadn’t thought about before.”

A.J.’s musical education was all part of the first Ivy Biz for Kids, Entrepalooza class, held through Ivy Tech’s Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship.

High school students participating in the camp each brought individual musical experiences.

Recordings ranged from original music with a heavy-metal feel; a version of Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor”; and a song from the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid.”

Throughout the week, the teenagers learned the ins and outs of laying down a track, including recording techniques from Phillip Traicoff, owner of Renegade Studio, who guided the sessions and mixed the music.

In addition to being able to record their own CD, the teens also learned the business side of making music that involved writing a business plan outlining how they are going to sell their music, who their targeted audience is, how they will promote their music and the financial costs of cutting and promoting a record.

“I think it’s important for them to be able to come in and record, but then separate the business and do that, too, because you have to have both in order to be a successful musician,” said Noel Niehaus, coordinator for the entrepreneurship center. “You can be the greatest guitarist in the world, but if you don’t know how to run your business, you’re not going to be able to get anywhere with it. It’s important to know both.”

The marketing side of the business was definitely a new lesson for 13-year-old pianist Jack Clarke.

“One of the things I learned was how much marketing went into being in a band,” Jack said. “I always thought it was, ‘play your music, and maybe you can get a record deal.’ Turns out, it was a lot more than that. There’s quite a lot of business to it.”

Coming from a musical family, Jack has been playing the piano/keyboard for the past five years and also plays the saxophone.

While he has performed live, Jack, who recorded “Prelude in E Minor,” had never been in the studio, an idea that he admits had him rattled in the beginning.

“It was a little nerve-wracking at first because I’ve never been in a studio before, but after a day, I’m not really nervous anymore,” he said. “It’s a pretty comfortable place, laid back.”

Although the teenagers’ musical tastes were quite different, their love of music brought them together, allowing them to celebrate each other’s accomplishments throughout the week.

In fact, in addition to recording their own music, the two vocalists, guitarist and a piano player collaborated on a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

For Ali Bryant, who traveled from Zionsville to be a part of the camp, Entrepalooza was a fun way to learn about how to turn her passion for singing into a possible career.

Being among her peers, she said, made the experience that much more fun.

“It makes it more relatable because you get to see other people like you who are doing it, too,” she said.

Watch the video online at:

A.J. Flynn records a bass track to a song at Renegade Studio outside of Bloomington. A.J., who has been writing and playing music for years, was among high school students recently given the chance to record songs through Ivy Tech’s Ivy Biz for Kids, Entrepalooza class. Bobby Ellis | Herald-Times

Noel Niehaus helps Ali Bryant design a cover for the CD that she recorded at Renegade Studio as part of the Ivy Tech summer business camp.

Phillip Traicoff mixes A.J. Flynn’s bass track while Amy Beasley watches.

Copyright: 2012

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.