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Musical Partnership: 1500 Sound Academy, ASU create program

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By Annika Tomlin

Los Angeles-based 1500 Sound Academy and Arizona State University recently merged their music education expertise for the online program Professional Certificate in Music Production.

The program offers courses in music production, engineering, songwriting, mixing, music business and artist branding.

1500 Sound Academy began four years ago as a state-of-the-art music academy for aspiring musicians, producers, writers and music executives. For more information about the academy, visit 1500sound.academy.

A subsidiary of Volume Ventures, 1500 Sound Academy has featured music’s biggest stars as guest lecturers, including Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Master P and Snoop Dogg.

ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Music, Dance and Theatre partnered with 1500 Sound Academy to provide courses that focus on skill development as well as exposure to leading experts in the music industry with interviews led by Dr. Daniel Bernard Roumain, ASU professor of practice.

“It was literally the cliché music business,” says James Fauntleroy, 1500 Sound Academy co-founder, about why he created the program with ASU. He’s also a Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer.

“The music business is rough in all of the movies and then, when I got into it in real life, I realized it’s much worse. I had the desire to make it easier for the next person.”

Larrance “Rance” Dopson, 1500 Sound Academy co-founder, adds, “Our goal has always been to lead by example and share our knowledge and insights of the business with people. We’re honored ASU acknowledges and celebrates this idea.”

Fauntleroy says it was 1500 Sound Academy’s third co-founder, entrepreneur Twila True, who orchestrated the collaboration.

“ASU has a really strong online offering, and the plan was always to go online but for us to find people that already had energy in that realm,” Fauntleroy says.

The self-paced online music program will include six specialized music courses:

Music Production Techniques with Ableton Live: This course offers music creators a foundation on the necessary concepts, terminology and techniques of modern studio track composition.

Recording & Engineering Fundamentals: The digital audio workstation (DAW) is the centerpiece of the recording studio. Students learn the fundamentals of getting sound into the DAW and shaping the sound using EQ, compression and other techniques.

The Contemporary Songwriter: Songwriters create timeless emotion from nothing but melody and lyrics. This course demystifies the songwriting process and arms the modern songwriter with melodic and lyrical concepts to deepen their craft.

Mixing Essentials: The mix can make or break a song and when it is done right, it goes unnoticeable. This course teaches how to listen and know how to make songs sound like you want them.

The Business of Music 101: Music creators are copyright owners, brand owners and publishing companies, whether they know it or not. This course outlines the pillars of a music creator’s corporate structure.

Branding for Contemporary Artist: This course digs deeply into the psyche of the artist, as well as the practical side of being an artist and setting up an authentic brand and performance.

Each course can be taken on its own for $499 or all six courses can be purchased for $2,499. More information about the courses can be found at bit.ly/3zIrUpy.

“It is unprecedented. The learning process at ASU Herberger Institute and 1500 Sound Academy have all come together in a highly collaborative, imaginative mammoth toward creating this singular course, which has different points of entry,” Roumain says.

“My role is to expand those ideas into the music industry and scholarship interviewing artists from both the field on a national and international sphere, but also interviewing ASU’s highly renowned faculty. These interviews unpack for the students their role and responsibility in terms of their creative work, the limitless potential for a song, how to work with one another and the responsibility of commercial artists in this broad encompassing culture.”

Outside of being the co-founder for the academy, Fauntleroy teaches courses, specifically focusing on songwriting.

“The curriculum is designed the way it is because I spent so much time learning about as many relevant things as possible and I saw what a difference it made versus being an expert in this one area,” Fauntleroy says. “I could teach all of the courses, but because I am primarily a songwriter, I think that’s what the students want me to come talk about.”

Roumain says the ideal student is “anyone who is interested in being in and out of the studio, but also anyone who is interested in new ways of approaching the broad music industry.”

Fauntleroy adds, “I think the ideal student — literally because we have the six categories— I think the ideal student is honestly anyone who wants to take that journey.

“A big part of the premise is that speaking all the different languages will give you such a better chance at achieving any one of them. Someone who is interested in that and they’re also either an artist, an engineer or even if you want to be a manager or executive. The more you know about each discipline, the more comfortable you will be talking about them to anyone.”

Roumain adds, “I think this program is focused on raising and projecting our voices and focuses on the mastery of hardware and software and what that means to collaborate and create in a popular and commercial music (industry). But it is also a model for how production houses and commercial production academies can work within the academic academy, and it allows for a broader perspective and kind of a cross-academy and cross-genre and cross-institutional learning that broadens the potential of how music is made and understood and disseminated out to the public sphere.”

Fauntleroy’s goal for the program is to ultimately help the future generation of artists “achieve their dreams but also pass on practical observation that we have observed.”

“In the typical music business, lifespan is three to five years and I’ve been doing it for 15 years, so I have seen a lot of people come and go and saw a lot of practical things that they had in common that they didn’t know or did wrong,” Fauntleroy says. “The big goal for us, not only helping people chase their dreams but sending ‘better people’ into the field so that we can hopefully get everybody to realize the value of trying to be a good person in addition to being talented.”

While the past year evoked a wide range of changes from climate change to social justice and judicial changes, Roumain reiterated how the collaboration between the two institutions came together in a “really unique way during unprecedented times.”

“Beyond the studio and beyond the music, I think the lesson, the example clearly set, is that conflict is easy, but collaboration speaks to the eternal,” Roumain says. CT

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