School’s Out, But Students Are In

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

I love working with colleges. I’ve spent a lot of my career with students, whether it was bringing talent to campuses, having a versatile and vibrant intern program, mentoring alums at University of Wisconsin or, as of this week, wrapping up my first college course, “The Streaming Revolution” at American University’s Kogod School of Business.

When we started Nue, we built a competitive edge around the college market. We signed and developed artists in colleges, and nurtured student-promoter relationships. It’s amazing how many of the students I come across today already have successful gigs in the entertainment industry and beyond.

“The Streaming Revolution” aimed to help students wrap their arms around an ever-changing state of affairs in digital media. Our final project had students present ideas for niche streaming services because I wanted the students to learn the importance of having a point of view. They exceeded expectations and, in my opinion, some of the ideas are good enough to be funded.

We covered the history of streaming, from Netflix and Napster to the current day, where Netflix and Napster are…still top of mind?

Netflix’s story is so inspiring. To think it went from two entrepreneurial buddies looking for an idea (it was almost a dog food company), to a DVD business demolishing Blockbuster, to being the highest rated, most watched platform in the world, complete with advertisements and live event streams.

Napster’s story is very different. After changing the music business forever it is now being re-invented as a Web3 music platform and making new waves under the leadership of Roblox’s former head of music, Jon Vlassopulos

This class was a lot of work, but it was so rewarding. We had great guest speakers, amazing experts, and the AU ecosystem came through in the clutch each week. I’m grateful for all of them.

The final points I wanted my students to leave with were:

  • America’s great exports are culture & technology, and The Streaming Revolution embodies both of these. After CDs and DVDs, “streaming” became the next great format and the technology behind it has had a massive impact on culture and entertainment.
  • Over the span of 20 years, we’ve had the golden age of TV content and a massive boom in music, which is more culturally relevant than ever. More people are listening to music; more artists are making music; and more artists are selling tickets. Record companies are hitting all-time highs and so is the value of songs and IP. Meanwhile, programming is more and more inclusive and representative.
  • Music is at the forefront of the streaming revolution, and the industry learned its lessons from Napster and iTunes. It now embraces technology, disrupts itself, and partners with its disruptors to license IP.
  • Finally, beyond the business of streaming, is the importance of relationships. This business is not just what you know, but who you know. The business is changing, people are changing, but the need to connect and build directly with other members of the community is absolute.

What will come next we do not know, but it’s worth investing in and it will clearly involve AI and blockchain. Students are the future, so invest in them now. I know I am. I’m actually flying to the University of Buffalo for a great college show on Friday that we helped book.

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Also published on Medium.