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Q&A: Lecturer Jeffrey Jampol discusses course, joining music industry

UCLA music lecturer Jeffrey Jampol created his course, “Music Business Now,” that focuses on finding success in the music industry. Producer Clive Davis will speak as a guest lecturer for the course on April 8.
(Herb Alpert School of Music)

By Nick LaRosa

March 31, 2015 8:13 p.m.

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that JAM, Inc. is a non-profit organization. In fact, it is a for-profit company. The original article also incorrectly stated that Jeffrey Jampol opened for the Sex Pistols. In fact, he only attended their show.

UCLA music lecturer Jeffrey Jampol has worked in the music industry for more than four decades and has spent 15 years developing and fine-tuning his course, “Music Business Now.”

From watching the Sex Pistols at Winterland in 1978 to founding his own music-oriented JAM, Inc., he gained industry experience and connections which he now seeks to share with his students. His connections include Clive Davis, who will be speaking as a guest lecturer at the class, which will be open to the public on April 8 at 6 p.m. in Schoenberg.

The Daily Bruin’s Nick LaRosa spoke with Jampol to discuss the formation of the course and what it takes to make it in the music industry.

DB: How did you go from managing and producing punk bands to teaching a college course titled “Music Business Now?”

JJ: I do a lot of volunteer work in drug counseling and recovery, and there’s an old saying in that community that goes, “You can’t keep it, unless you give it away.” The thing about the music industry and the record business is that it’s a relationship business. It’s who you know. It’s also about not falling into these potholes and quicksand traps on the side of the road. I’ve already made so many of the near fatal mistakes. I’ve stepped in the potholes and I’ve been buried in the quicksand and I’ve expended blood, sweat and tears forming these relationships. So for me, a big part of me getting into education was wanting to open doors and give students the keys.

DB: So how does your class go about teaching something as amorphous as the music industry? It’s not exactly something that there is textbooks for.

JJ: Through hands-on experience. We spent 15 years using the UCLA Extension as a lab to build the biggest, strongest, most bulletproof, real-time deep experience for the students. The whole class is focused around the final. Around week two we divide the class into what we call marketing pods. They are going to have to work together.

If you work at a record label or marketing company, you work with the people you got, and if something’s not right, then you have to change you, not them. We (assign) them an artist, and their job is to create a plan to take that artist to the next level. For the final, each of these pods has to give an oral presentation in front of the class and guest judges. Then we huddle and give them their final grade right there in front of everybody.

DB: That’s a bit of a crucible.

JJ: Welcome to the music industry.

DB: So there is the potential for the students’ plans to get to the artist?

JJ: I’ll take it one step further. One of the things we do for each pod is to make all the calls and get them connected. We give them real access to the record label, their manager and their agent. The students can take meetings with the managers and people from the label and even sometimes the artists or the band. Many times, the artists actually use some of the students’ ideas. We’ve had Macy Gray come in and explain why she was going to an independent record label and we made her one of the artists for that year, we’ve had The Airborne Toxic Event come in and perform for the kids. And this year we have (Clive Davis.)

DB: In some industries a degree is a prerequisite that you must obtain before you can start working in that field. With music, that is not the case. If someone wants to work in the industry, would you recommend getting started immediately, even if still in college?

JJ: I mean, I don’t want to tell my students how to live their lives, but if you want to work in this industry then you have to let it subsume you. The sooner the better.

Compiled by Nick LaRosa, A&E contributor

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