A couple of weeks back I wrote a blog about music industry executive and legendary music producer Jimmy Iovine being selected to speak at my Alma Mater USC’s 2013 commencement.
This week sees an even bigger announcement concerning the University I attended for my undergrad, and Jimmy Iovine. The day after Iovine spoke for a graduating class of over 13,000, he announced that he and legendary rapper and music producer Dr. Dre (real name is Andre Young, most know for his success as a rapper, producer, and the person who launched the careers of stars like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar. Check out Dr. Dre’s timeless classic that launched his solo career here) were giving $70 Million to University of Southern California (USC). The donation is being touted as the highest amount given to a University by a celebrity in the US ever. Iovine and Young, both already known as forward thinkers and visionaries in their field with incredible success not only in recorded music but also with Beats Headphones, are giving the donation to establish a new four-year undergraduate program for students interested in a mix of the arts, visual design, entrepreneurship, computer science and marketing. The donation will end up establishing a specialized school on the USC campus called ‘The Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation.’ It will focus on attracting students “who challenge conventional views of art and industry.” The program’s goal is to prepare its students to become a new generation of inspired innovators. The primary purpose for Iovine and Young in creating this specialized school is to create an environment for those rare undergraduate students whose interests span more than one area. It is for students who have interests in fields such as marketing, business entrepreneurship, computer science and engineering, audio and visual design, and the arts. Hear Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine speak about it:
The Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy, as its collectively being touted as, will primarily focus on four core subjects. The subjects it will emphasize are: arts and entrepreneurship; technology, design and marketability; concept and business platforms and creating a prototype. The new program will include many exclusive opportunities that students all over the globe would want. Opportunities like a one-on-one faculty mentoring from some of USC’s many prestigious and world-renown schools. The schools who are committed to being involved with new Academy are: The Marshall School of Business, The USC Roski School of Fine Arts, The USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and The Thornton School of music (which I am an alumnus of). The primary goal of the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy is to offer a select group of students the unique opportunity to interact with guest speakers and lecturers from the arts and entertainment field. With USC’s location being in Los Angeles, its just miles away from Hollywood. One can imagine the names that will be getting involved with this prestigious program. Los Angeles is widely viewed as the creative and media capital of the world. Many people feel that this setting provides students an opportunity to take advantage of what is referred to as a “living laboratory.” The living laboratory is a place where most of the nations media and pop culture is created. It is where music, film and visual arts are deeply intertwined with each other.
In a recent statement from University of Southern California’s current President C. L. Max Nikias, “The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media. USC provides an extraordinarily rich academic, research and artistic environment. We are committed to encouraging our students to use their intellectual and creative resources to effect change in all segments of society. Our goal is to ensure that the academy is the most collaborative educational program in the world.” See more on Max Nikia’s speech, as well as Iovine and Dre’s speech here:
The new addition to USC will be one of the most highly selective programs in the United States. Currently, the plan is to enroll its first class of only 25 students in the fall of 2014. The applicants for The Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy will be selected by a review committee that will choose students using “a rigorous review process.” The selection, or “review” process will not only be based on academic achievement, but also a students “proven ability for original thought.” The new school will not only be looking for students with incredible grades and accolades, but also one’s who have the potential to be entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators in their selected fields. As Jimmy Iovine said in a recent article in The New York Times, “If the next start-up that becomes Facebook happens to be one of our kids, that’s what we are looking for.”
Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s gift is part of USC’s new global multiyear effort to secure $6 billion plus donation in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. It is called, ‘The Campaign for the University of Southern California.’
During each students fourth and final year in the program, each individual student will take up a mandatory residence in an experiential setting USC is calling the “Garage.” The “Garage”, will group students into self-directed teams, which may include non-academy students from other majors on campus. In their final year, students in the “Garage” will determine a project that can be developed into a prototype over the course of their final year. Faculty members, other artists and business leaders will serve as mentors to each group during this “Garage” setting. Even venture capitalists and other real-world experts in many specialized fields will be introduced to the students in an effort to give real world guidance and direction. All these elements will work together in an effort to combine into one unique educational experience for the Academy students. A key aspect to this program in its final stage is to motivate students to work together. The thought is that when the students are working together, the students will challenge one another to take even greater risks in innovation. The hope is that the intense competition will result in fantastic ideas, projects, social media platforms, products, technology advancements, etc.
According to Dean of USC Roski School of Fine Art Erica Muhl, “Flexibility is a hallmark of USC, and the academy’s curriculum is incredibly adaptive. The curriculum was created to take full advantage of a newly designed, revolutionary educational space that will offer students very powerful tools. Academy students will have the freedom to move easily from classroom to lab, from studio to workshop, individually or in groups, and blow past any academic or structural barriers to spontaneous creativity. The academy’s core education will create a common, multilingual literacy and fluency across essential disciplines. This ‘big picture’ knowledge and skill will equip graduates with a leadership perspective that is unparalleled in an undergraduate degree, and that will be applicable to virtually any industry.” Dean Muhl will serve as the Academy’s inaugural director.
Not only being an alumnus of the University of Southern California, but also currently working at the forefront of the ever-changing music industry, this new program at USC is extremely exciting to me. It reinforces something I say everyday – your success in the entertainment industry (particularly the music business) depends solely on you. Not on a label, a manger, investor, or anyone else on the outside giving you a chance! It depends on your willingness to learn and understand the business you desire to have a career in, becoming an entrepreneur, and leveraging the tools that you have at your fingertips. Even major executives and music icons know this. They know it starts with you! It starts with individuals taking risks and becoming innovative. If Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre donating $70 Million dollars toward the development of the minds of future entrepreneurs does not articulate that enough, I don’t know what will. Think about this…Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are not holding open auditions at USC to discover some unknown talent or business idea they can invest in. They are investing into a program that will develop the abilities and minds of unknown entrepreneurs and future industry innovators to grow into future trail blazers in the industry of their choice.