By Safia Hashi
Once created to fill a void in the Canadian music scene, the music industry arts certificate program is gaining the attention of many.
Seven years ago, coordinator Lou Di Millo set out to give students a basic outline of the entertainment business and legal side of production. The goal: to create exclusive opportunities for students with a passion for music.
“The industry has responded quite well and has recognized the program. We are lucky to be able to tap into resources outside the city and bring industry leaders into the classroom,” he said.
Through Skype technology, students have interacted with Desmond Child, writer of Jon Bon Jovi’s hit You Give Love a Bad Name; Kevin Lyman, who is the founder of Warped Tour; and Ruth McCartney, who is the sister of legend Paul McCartney.
Students received a backstage glimpse into the Junos last year as they witnessed the roll out of the red carpet and watched Avril Lavigne’s entire set up.
This year students in the program will enjoy a trip to the Canadian Tire Centre to watch the band Black Sabbath’s stage production on Apr. 13.
Also on the list is billionaire TV personality Brett Wilson, who will be on Algonquin’s campus Jan. 30. He contacted the program himself to suggest the idea.
One of the instructors, Michael Wood, is well known in the music industry as a voting member of both the Grammy and Juno Awards. Through past relationships he has been able to secure some prominent figures.
“How many students get to meet a living billionaire? Algonquin, from the root, is about providing new experiences,” said Wood.
A multitude of those applying to the program come directly out of high school. They are looking to get their feet wet without the commitment of four years worth of tuition.
“I wanted to learn how to market myself as a musician and break into the entertainment industry,” said 18-year-old student Ryan Turcotte.
His classes range from songwriting, audio recording, and audio production to entertainment law, management, and promotion.
Introductory programs allow students to evolve as they stream in to other avenues of life—whether to continue their education or step into the workforce.
This hope is commonplace for students like 18-year-old Taylor Trudel, who is in her second semester of the program.
“I’ve always been interested in music and business is my strong suit,” she said. “I’m too shy to be in a band.”
Her favourite memory is meeting Derek Debeer, an African tribal drummer born in Zimbabwe who has sold millions of records and has been on David Letterman.
Lou Di Millo’s goal for the new near is to continue to inspire students with similar opportunities.
“My hope is also for continued growth, so the program keeps up with the industry,” said Di Millo.