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Tag: technology (Page 1 of 2)


Music Business Seminar – Pablo Langa, Technology in the Music Industry

Wesley A’Harrah and Martin Erler, students of the global entertainment and music business master’s program, reflect upon the first of the weekly ‘Music Business Seminars’ where they had the chance to listen to Pablo Langa, Business Director for Blackboard International, talk about his presentation “Does your next million dollar business idea need a mobile app?”.Nomophobia-Berklee-blog

Are you one of the many individuals who suffer from nomophobia? In their 2012 study, a technology company called SecureEnvoy found that roughly 67% of their research population believed they had this strangely named condition. So what is nomophobia, exactly? Macmillan dictionary states nomophobia is “the fear of not having or not being able to use a cellphone.”

Pablo Langa – a specialist in global mobile-app development and strategic technological marketing – provided our music business Master’s class with some insights on drivers of powerful, innovative technological advances in today’s web-based environment. His presentation “Does your next million-dollar business idea need a mobile app” introduced us to six critical factors in creating a successful mobile application to meet the needs of today’s challenges. These six factors are the following: scope, pricing, knowing your audience, creating a platforming roadmap, promotion and the decision to build or buy your app.

When you think of versatile tools, a Swiss-army knife is likely among the first few things that come to mind. In the case mobile-apps, versatility often presents itself in a different form. Apps that claim to offer numerous functions are often less effective than competing apps with specialized functions. Simplicity is key: less is more, and more is less. Make sure your app is fast and performs well, and you’ll be much better off than having a slow app that can do many things.

When it comes to pricing a mobile app, it is crucial to understand the devices from which your target audience will utilize your app. Take into account the following average amount users will spend for an app on the following devices:

Android phone – $0.06
iPhone – $0.19
iPad – $0.50.

If fail to build your business model according to your audience, you can easily find yourself falling behind projected profit margins.

One of the more difficult aspects of app development is accounting for interfacing needs of your audience. An app needs to account for culture, language, location and Internet accessibility. For instance, some languages require text to read from right-to-left. Naturally, this can heavily influence the visual layout of your app.Pablo Langa Music Business Seminar

The average platform operating system (e.g. IOS 8, Android 4) will go through 25 updates each year. To remain relevant and functioning properly within a specified platform, it is mandatory to stay on top of these changes. There’s no easier way to convince users to delete your app than letting your app become incompatible with their operating system.

Remember Flappy Bird? This app was a pioneer in effectively accruing large numbers of ratings in short time-spans. A recent article from Business Insider revealed a major aspect of Flappy Bird’s path to success. Because of Flappy Bird’s app design, almost every user would quite quickly click on the “rate this app” button, effectively promoting the app within the app store. This is one of many possible methods of promoting an application.

If you’re absolutely set on having a top-ten app on the Apple app store, take a look at the following formula and see how you can break it:

App Store Ranking = (# of installs weighted for the past few hours) + (# of installs weighted for the past few days) + REVIEWS (star rating + number of reviews) + Engagement (# of times app opened etc.) + Sales ($)

While there is no definitive answer to whether you should build or pay someone for your app, there are some things to consider when faced with this question. If you want to have total control of your app then it is almost necessary you develop your own app. It’s relatively easy to create a clean, effective app through the use of app-creation websites (Appmachine, Phonegap, Xamarin or Goodbarber) and it is becoming more and more frequent for people and companies alike to manage the creation of their apps. If you’re terrible with technology, though, outsourcing your app creation is always a viable option. Keep focused on what you and your team are good at, and supplement these skills however you need.

Remember: if you want to reach as many people as possible, your app must be able to connect across various platforms, devices and audience demographics.

Want to learn one last thing? You know how your phone’s camera still makes that old-time camera sound? That sound is an example of something called a skeuomorph. Go Google it!


Berklee Launches New Summer Program Series in Valencia

The Office of International Programs, in conjunction with Summer Programs, is excited to announce a new series of special programs to be conducted at our new campus in Valencia, Spain.  The programs will kick off this July and cover a range of musical topics.

Berklee’s Office of International Programs is known for traveling the globe to conduct music education programming at our partner institutions, world-class music festivals and prime hot spots of various music traditions.  With the opening of the Valencia campus at the Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain, we now have an amazing location in Europe to host our excellent educational programs. 

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Andrea Pejrolo: iPad in the Classroom

Contemporary writing and production assistant chair Andrea Pejrolo led a session about using iPads in the classroom at this year’s Berklee Teachers on Teaching (BTOT) faculty development conference. In this post, he gives and overview of the presentation.

We just finished our BTOT session entitled “iPad in the Classroom: New Solutions for Curriculum Development and Delivery.” The panel that Jerry Smith and I put together featured (in addition to Jerry and me) a diverse group of excellent educators and professionals: Dr. Richard Boulanger (EPD), Suzanne Clark (Harmony), Loudon Stearns (CWP), Michael Sweet (Film Scoring), and Stephen Webber (MP&E).

The idea to have a dedicated group in charge of exploring the possibilities that this new tool brings to the classroom started two years ago, right after the launch of the iPad 1 from a visionary initiative that Jerry Smith started. Last year we presented at BTOT with a smaller group and this year we grew considerably, covering most of the areas of the college.

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Steven Kirby: Using the iPad for Gigging

Harmony Department assistant professor Steven Kirby presented a session about using the iPad for gigging at this year’s Berklee Teachers on Teaching faculty development conference. The following are the highlights from his presentation.  

I’m Steven Kirby, faculty in the Harmony Department here at Berklee. On Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 , I and three other colleagues gave a presentation on the use of the iPad in performance applications as part of Berklee’s annual Berklee Teachers On Teaching conference (BTOT). The other contributors were Mike Carrera (manager of faculty technology services), David Harris (Harmony Department), and Michael Bierylo (Electronic Production and Design).

The session was only one hour long so we had to cover a lot in short period of time. We had about 30 participants. There were many questions and some lively discussions around the various topics and pros and cons of the apps.

Mike Carrera started things off with an overview of some of fantastic apps and hardware which can be used to record and manipulate digital audio. A list of his recommended apps are listed below. A highlight of his presentation was the app  called “Reactable”… a realtime performance application that is rapidly growing in popularity and which is based on an interactive performance environment developed and used by the unique and creative recording artist Bjork.

Mike covered:


– Apple Camera Connection Kit (for USB device connection)

– Line 6 iRig/Apogee jam/Peavey Ampkit Link

– Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer

– Alesis IO Dock

Performance Software

– Garage Band

– MorphWiz/SampleWiz

– Amplitube/iRig

– Filtatron/Animoog

– djay

– Reactable

– ReBirth

– Setlist

– iKaossilator


Notation Apps

The next segment was presented by me and designed to highlight specifically music notation  apps…i.e. apps that facilitate the reading and production of sheet music on an iPad.

I zeroed in on three apps: forScore and iGigbook for sheet music and mentioned another app, iRealb, which is for chord charts.  I also talked about the importance of a having a foot-controlled page turner and highlighted a few of those.


Pro: The most elegant, full featured score reading app and it works well  with foot operated page turners.

Con: No importable indexes must make your own “live” table of contents and enter searchable metadata if you want that… a lot of work!


YouTube demos:


Pro: Has a at least 30 indexes for all the most commonly owned fake books…importing them takes a little fiddling around but once they are in your app you can find any song, in any book, in time it takes to type the first few letters of the title. This means you can access one song out of thousands in about 3 seconds.

Con: Currently it has annoying limits on it’s functionality with page turners. Bluetooth foot pedals only work with this app when you are viewing song from the “Gig Set List Viewer.” Also it will only turn pages forward (though there is a sometimes useful work-around for this if you set up repeats / DCs /DSs etc with the app functions that allow for that.



video review:

iRealb (only a chord reader but has many other useful functions too)

YouTube demos:

Some people own all three apps and use then for different situations.

  • Use forScore for your own music library (original charts etc) which you bookmark yourself;
  • Use iGigbook for fake books;
  • Use iRealb for practice/ performance related teaching and in gig situations where you don’t need to read the melody

Hands-Free Page Turners

Bluetooth: (no wires!)

Airturn BT105: (approx $130) (works well..has the longest lasting battery but be careful to charge it before 1st use)



PageFlip Cicada: (about $80) (most versatile, works great)




Footime (about $40)


The third segment, presented by professor Michael Bierylo, concentrated on apps for electronic music performance.

iPad Apps for Electronic Music Performance

Michael Bierylo: There are three main categories of iPad apps used in performing electronic music.

1. Controllers: Apps that allow the performer to control software applications running on a host computer.

2. Sequencers: Apps that combine a sound engine with some sort of step and pattern-based sequencing capabilities.

3. Synthesizers: Electronic instruments that either try to emulate a keyboard synthesizer or use the iPad interface to provide some unique means of control.

Some suggested apps:

App Developer Cost Notes
Touch OSC Hexler 4.99 Toolkit for building controllers.
touchAble AppBC 24.99 Dedicated controller for Ableton Live
iElectribe Korg 9.99 Software emulation of a classic Korg beatbox.
BeatMaker2 INTUA 19.99 Workstation beatbox developed for the iPad
TNR-i Yamaha 19.99 iPad version of the Yamaha Tenori-On
iMS-20 Korg 9.99 Software emulation of a classic Korg analog synthesizer
SynthX Way Out Ware 9.99 Analog synth with touchscreen performance interface.
Animoog Moog Music 9.99 Analog synth with animated visual sound control.
Reactable Reactable Systems 9.99 Unique construction kit for building electronic instruments. 

Finally we included some apps suggested by David Harris, who also uses the iPad in performance frequently.

Useful soft synth/sample player apps for the iPad:

GarageBand: very useful a. Piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzter, B3 with working drawbars, Leslie fast/slow, percussion, chorus, and distortion.  Able to use loops made on computer.

Animoog– new synthesis engine from Moog with very cool sounds. Able to use touch screen to change modulation live.  Presets or make your own.

Nlog– retro analogue synth, with filter control, pitch and modulation wheels.  Presets with some programming

Pocket organ– dedicated B3 emulation with drawbars, percussion, leslie fast/slow, key click, vibrato and chorus, reverb and overdrive

Other  useful music programs for iPad/iPhone:

Amazing Slowdowner: Same as Mac program, somewhat less controls but excellent for slowing down sources and keep pitch to transcribe

V Control: virtual faders and controls for Protools, Logic etc. Great for recording yourself or adjusting mix from other places in the room

iRealbook: no melodies, but chord lead sheets for hundreds of tunes.  Will play a reasonable accompaniment in jazz, funk, rock, bossa. Great for students to practice with. Edit changes or write your own—very easy.

RTA: 1/3 octave realtime graph of db spl over audible frequency in free version (lite).  Full version adds mic calibration, pinknoise generator, external mic support, decay options.  Part of larger package (AudioTools) with loads of proaudio necessities.

Metron: programmable metronome

Tuner: shows either note name ( and how much flat or sharp) or graph showing all frequencies( great for displaying overtones to students)

Shazam: Identifies tunes playing on radio and directs you to itunes or Amazon if you want to buy it.

Remembering Steve Jobs and His Impact on the Berklee Community

A woman lights a candle at the Apple store on Boylston Street in memory of Steve Jobs the night of his passing.

I was in a Berklee practice room when Steve Jobs passed away. I didn’t hear the news until I returned home, but no sooner had I put down my book bag did I sling my camera purse over my shoulder en route to the Apple Store on Boylston.

Of course, as a photographer, I wanted to go over to the Apple Store as soon as possible to get pictures of what I knew would be a memorial at the largest Apple Store in North America. But I made a stop to pick up flowers first, since it was more meaningful for me to take part in the experience than document it.

Ever since our first PowerBooks in 2005, my brother and I have watched Steve Jobs’ keynotes with rapt attention. Every Mac World, Mac Developer Conference, or individual product announcement was treated like a holiday in my house, our excitement akin to child’s impatience to open presents on Christmas morning. What “beautiful” or “stunning” design will Steve unveil this time? What are the latest, crazy numbers for iTunes and the iPod? Will it be a product that everyone has been talking about or a complete surprise that Apple has been able to keep secret? And most importantly, will there be “One More Thing?”

All the times my brother and I spent watching Steve Jobs’ keynotes, analyzing his replies to customer emails, and reading his interviews made the Apple founder feel like a larger-than-life personality, but also someone we could relate to. Someone close. And after seeing the incredible out-pouring of love at the Boylston Apple Store, and at Apple Stores around the country, I’m guessing my brother and I aren’t the only ones who felt a deep connection to Steve Jobs.

But like many Berklee students, I also feel a strong connection to Steve Jobs and the Apple brand because of all the Apple hardware and software that facilitates my creativity. Had it not been for the inclusion of Garageband in the iLife suite on every Apple computer, my parents would have bought me a much cheaper computer for my first laptop in 2005. But instead, my parents realized that buying a PowerBook was more than a computer – it was an investment in my musical development. And that’s why hundreds of people laid flowers, candles, apples, and personal letters at the front of a retail store for a company’s founder – Steve Jobs succeeded in making Apple more than just another soul-less technology brand, but a personal one. And without Apple products, Berklee students would be without the greatest tool in our creative arsenal. 

The memorial for Steve Jobs outside the Boylston Apple Store on Sunday, October 9, 2011

And that’s why it’s no surprise that Berklee College of Music and Apple are intrinsically connected. The cornucopia of apple products one could see at Berklee, from the mandatory MacBook Pros for all students, to the high prevalence of iPhones and iPods (and even the rare iPad), is just a small piece of Apple’s presence on campus. Looking deeper, even the core of Berklee’s curriculum involves training on a whole host of Apple software, including Garageband and Logic Pro.

But I think Berklee has an even stronger connection to Apple than simply the products that Steve Jobs engineered, but the ethos of Steve Jobs himself.

In Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, which gained a new-found popularity shortly after his death, he encourages students to “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” advice which could not be more applicable to the students at Berklee.

Berklee has a storied history of successful drop-outs (John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, Gavin DeGraw, Quincy Jones, etc.) who, like Steve Jobs, had a passion that school couldn’t contain, and a bold trajectory to follow even their loftiest of dreams. And our school continues to have a high concentration of students with huge aspirations and strong entrepreneurial spirit because Berklee fosters an environment where every seemingly “foolish” goal or passion is attainable and should be not merely followed, but attacked with full zeal.

“We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better… Those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do.”

A mourner leaves an homage befitting of the Apple founder among the flowers and candles the night of Steve Jobs' passing.

Steve Jobs’ legacy is an inspiration – a beacon of hope – to all who are considered naïve or delusional for their passions, because rarely do you find someone who follows his passions, believes he can literally change the world, and actually does. We won’t see another leader, innovator, or passionate spirit like Steve Jobs again in our lifetime – may he rest in peace.

– Elisa Rice

*All photographs taken by the author

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