The Music Industry Committee at UCLA’s office hours aren’t held by professors – instead, they’re led by chart-topping musicians.
Thursday, MIC at UCLA will host DJ Kaskade at Schoenberg Hall as part of the club’s six-part Office Hours series, which brings artists to campus to answer students’ questions about succeeding in the music business, said MIC co-founder David Brik.
David Brik, a third-year economics student, and his brother Allan Brik, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, first launched MIC Office Hours in November 2016 with a Q&A session featuring Linkin Park’s guitarist Brad Delson. The club will also bring rapper Machine Gun Kelly to speak to students on Feb. 7.
The upcoming sessions, which are free to students, will be live-streamed on Tumblr, giving individuals from outside UCLA the chance to ask their questions during the event, David Brik said.
Beyond bringing major artists to UCLA, MIC offers students of any academic background the opportunity to step outside the classroom to network and interact with musicians to prepare for a future in the entertainment industry, David Brik said.
A career in the music industry felt thousands of miles out of reach when David and Allan Brik were growing up in Australia, David Brik said.
“I loved watching the Grammy Awards, I loved hearing all the new sounds that people could come up with,” David Brik said. “But I never really saw the music industry as a path I could follow.”
But finding a way to break into the industry became a top priority when the brothers were both accepted to UCLA in 2014, David Brik said. He began taking music industry classes – his first was an internet marketing course with professor Gigi Johnson – and was accepted to the music industry minor in 2015.
“Once I joined the minor, a lot of people in the school of music said we need something for students, like a club,” David Brik said. “But I’d never really thought about going and actually opening the club.”
The catalyst for MIC occurred when he became involved in The Recording Academy’s Grammy U program, an organization that gives university students access to internships and opportunities within the music industry. He interned with The Recording Academy – which produces the Grammy Awards – and then became the Grammy U representative for its Los Angeles Chapter, he said.
As part of Grammy U, David Brik attended a masterclass with pop artist Bonnie McKee and was inspired by the songwriting advice she gave to students in the workshop as she deconstructed each hook and every lyric in their work, he said.
“Working with amazing people at the Academy … that’s when I thought, I have to bring this to UCLA,” David Brik said. “Other students have to witness this.”
In spring 2016, David Brik began conceptualizing a conversation series with artists modeled after the masterclass he attended. But unlike Grammy U, which requires its members to pursue a major or minor related to the music industry, David Brik said he wanted his club to be available to all UCLA students.
David Brik partnered with his brother Allan Brik, who has no formal background in the music industry, to help him design MIC and the Office Hours series, to make them accessible to students across campus. Allan Brik said he has experience in engineering, finance and marketing, providing a counterpart to David Brik’s experience in business and production.
“We like different aspects of the music industry, which is really good because we don’t compete with each other,” Allan Brik said. “We complement each other.”
David Brik said he decided to collaborate with the Herb Alpert School of Music to help bring visibility and big-ticket artists to the MIC Office Hours series.
“This is what the music school needs,” David Brik said. “They give the classes, but (MIC) will provide students with real-life testimonials and real-life experience.”
While courses teach students theoretical concepts for subjects like music marketing, MIC captures the practical applications of the concepts by bringing in artists to speak about the current climate of the music industry today, said Fred Foos, a fourth-year cognitive science student in the music industry minor.
“The music industry is a very fast and fluid and agile market,” Foos said. “The techniques that you may have used last year or the year before may not work nowadays as far as marketing or branding or ticket sales.”
MIC is valuable because it gives industry exposure to students who may not have had the opportunity to be part of the music industry minor at UCLA, said Victoria Hornstein, a fourth-year atmospheric, oceanic and environmental sciences student.
Although she is interested in a career related to the music industry, Hornstein said she never joined the music industry minor at UCLA, a selective program which, according to director of communications Ariane Bicho of UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, received about 50 applications in fall quarter for about 20 spots.
Bicho said she and executive director of development Ava Sadripour were impressed with the Briks’ vision to bring popular artists to campus to share their success stories with students.
Some professors within the music industry minor have brought in guests like songwriter Burt Bacharach and manager Paul Rosenberg. But Bicho said the musicians that MIC hosts – including Brad Delson and Kaskade – are especially of interest because of their name recognition as current contemporary artists.
“This is unique because it really focuses on popular artists that students have a particular interest in right now,” Bicho said.
In addition to providing the Jan Popper Theater and Schoenberg Hall for the Office Hours series, the Herb Alpert School of Music also helped connect the Briks with Steve Baltin, a music journalist who moderates the Office Hours and helped MIC book its roster of artists for the series.
Baltin, a journalist for Billboard Magazine and Forbes, decided to get involved because he felt students could really benefit from hearing one-to-one from successful artists, he said.
“The fact that it was so music education-based based really impressed me quite a bit, because it wasn’t simply like a, ‘Hey, we want to hang out with cool bands,’” Baltin said.
Baltin also helped facilitate MIC’s partnership with Tumblr, which will live-stream each of the upcoming Office Hours.
The live-stream has also been an incentive for major artists to join the Office Hours series since streaming on Tumblr gives the artists extra visibility beyond the UCLA community, Baltin said.
Mixing, Mastering and Post-Production
After attending the Office Hours with UCLA alumnus Brad Delson in November, Hornstein said she appreciated the candid remarks the guitarist offered students about making it in the industry.
Some questions touched on marketing and networking strategies, along with a few lighter-hearted questions about which dorm he lived in while at UCLA and his favorite dining hall.
“What I really like about these events is that they’re really intimate,” Hornstein said. “It’s not just about, ‘Oh, this person has top hits’ – it’s like how a person gets to that point and what it takes from a professional aspect to reach your goals.”
Third-year ethnomusicology student Michelle Oglevie said the benefits of MIC go beyond hearing from celebrity musicians in Office Hours; attending MIC events with other students has bolstered her professional network by helping her meet others interested in the music industry.
“Even though it’s great to meet the artists that are the guests, it’s really awesome to network with your peers who also have the same goals and aspirations as you do in the music industry,” Oglevie said.
Supporting and connecting the future leaders in the music industry on campus is ultimately what MIC is all about, David Brik said.
“We’re the future of the music industry,” David Brik said. “If I can make that easier for everyone and help everyone connect early on, that’s the best thing I can do.”