Stanford launches Leadership Initiative with Warner Music Group

Jan. 27, 2015, 2:45 p.m.

2015 marks the inaugural year of Stanford’s Leadership Initiative with Warner Music Group (WMG).

Six to eight students from the Class of 2016 will be selected via application this winter to participate in the 14-month-long program that seeks to expose students to the popular music industry. Applications are due on Jan. 30.

The program breaks down into three major components: a two-unit class on the music industry offered in the spring of the participants’ junior year, a summer placement at WMG or one of its affiliates and a senior year capstone project.

The two-unit class, “The Changing World of Popular Music,” will be taught by Jay LeBoeuf, a graduate of the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). The class will discuss business models of the commercial music industry and the current landscape of the recording music industry.

LeBoeuf intends to invite musical artists and executives each to teach students about the music industry.

“My hypothesis is that the best way to engage students is to bring in outside folks [to share their] knowledge and challenge [students’] thinking,” LeBoeuf said. “But, rather than it being purely theoretical, [this knowledge is] really applied using the tools and tech students use in their free time. Students are such a wonderful example — they’re walking around with ear-buds and streaming music all the time. It’s something we can all relate to.”

The class will be capped at 25 students. Stanford/WMG Leadership Initiative participants are guaranteed a spot in the class, and the remaining students will be chosen on the basis of seniority.

The second component of the program, the summer placement with WMG, will be geared towards one area of focus per participant, such as product development and design, data analysis, software engineering, business and financial services, or marketing and creative services.

According to Stanford Arts Institute Projects and Grants Coordinator Emily Saidel, who is serving as the program administrator for the Initiative, this array of concentrations is attracting a diverse group of applicants.

“I’ve already seen in some of the applications coming in a mix of different majors,” Saidel said. “Largely, everybody has some interest in music, but even that interest is really diverse…some people are performers who just want to learn more about the industry and get involved in the industry, some people approach is from a software side of things, some people approach it from more of a technical side of how music is produced. So even that interest in music is very broad.”

The senior-year capstone project will be funded by a $2,000 grant from WMG. The goal is for students to apply what they’ve learned in their summer placements to crafting an innovative project that responds to what they observed in the music industry. An example of a capstone project could be to develop a new music-streaming app or to market a local musician.

According to Matthew Tiews, Associate Dean for the Advancement of the Arts, WMG was originally connected to Stanford through the School of Engineering but became interested in attracting students to the music industry.

“Working with Warner representatives, I and some members of the team here put together this program,” Tiews said. “[It] is really an opportunity for students to gain some experience working in popular music industry, but also for WMG to bring in students from all disciplines at Stanford who have new ideas about what might be possible in the music industry, and have that be part of the way Warner develops new initiatives and programs both within its own company and in terms of the things it thinks about for the popular music industry going forward.”

WMG has made a five-year commitment to the Leadership Initiative at Stanford. LeBoeuf explains that the program will grow and change as more Stanford students participate in it.

“This is the pilot year; we’re very excited about it, but we’re also open to the flexibility about it,” Saidel said. “We’re open to what change may look like and what serving the needs of both parties — the students and Warner Music Group — will look like, and making sure those needs are met, that they are overlapping and working together. This is the fun part about piloting something. We’re not locked in. It lets the program evolve.”


Contact Rebecca Aydin at raydin ‘at’

Rebecca Aydin, a writer for the University/Local beat and a senior hailing from NYC, is pursuing a major in English and a minor in Psychology. She has written for the Chicago Tribune and Worldcrunch, a digital news magazine based in Paris. On campus, she is the editor-in-chief of MINT style and culture magazine. This is her fourth year writing for The Stanford Daily. Contact her at raydin ‘at’

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