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Despite being scattered by the pandemic, a group of Berklee Valencia students worked virtually this spring to create a strategic release plan for reggae artist Chronixx ahead of his much-anticipated sophomore album, Dela Splash.
The opportunity came about when Chronixx's project and tour manager, Alex Rivas, connected with Emilien Moyon, director of the Global Entertainment and Music Business program. “We had been talking for a while about me coming to campus,” said Rivas, who met Moyon last year after the two were introduced by Beyoncé’s publicist Yvette Noel-Schure. But, she said, after Berklee suspended in-person classes, “I expressed to Emilien that now, more than ever, it was the right time to encourage and inspire students.”
Moyon compared the project to a “72-hour accelerated internship,” with an emphasis on problem-solving, which he says is “probably the most fundamental skill necessary for success” in the modern music industry.
A Group Effort
Eighteen students signed up for the challenge and were divided into groups to design strategies for the album launch. “We were meeting online pretty much every day, sometimes several times a day,” said student Louise Cartier, whose team included Alica Molito and Luis Fernando Pérez Ruiz. “Alica was in charge of design and creative direction, Luis was in budgeting and tour management, and I was working on creative marketing strategies and PR.”
Student Jacob Lapidus’s team looked at brands, the project’s aesthetic, and press, promotion, and playlisting. “I personally focused on the global release and domestic community engagement initiatives in Jamaica. We spent a good portion of our time collectively crafting the narrative of the project,” Lapidus said.
Their plan included content and video asset releases, several brand partnerships, and sponsorships with companies that align with Chronixx's values, as well as virtual touring and local performances and outreach through the artist’s foundation.
Cartier’s team’s aim was to keep the audience interested until touring started up again. “We wanted to show how Chronixx had grown as an artist since his debut album and help him raise awareness around his culture and his beliefs,” she said.
The project gave students the opportunity to “put into practice the hard skills they developed in data analytics and law and finance courses, but also the soft skills of creative entrepreneurship, leadership, artist management, and live entertainment,” said Moyon. “By putting these pieces of the puzzle together, it is no longer an assignment—it is the reality of the business.”
Cartier highlighted the data analytics class because “it taught us how to analyze information and use it strategically,” while Lapidus credited the digital marketing class taught by the company Music Ally.
Finding the Opportunity
As the students’ main contact for the project, Rivas set up a panel with fellow tour managers Kyana White, Reneeka Versey, and Jeff Cohran, and also presented a lecture focused on the album release process. Cartier described Rivas as “simply outstanding,” adding that “she would always make herself available to answer our questions [and] made collaboration very enjoyable and fluid.”
The student presentations, conducted via Zoom, took place at the end of the week. Chronixx attended the meeting along with key members of his team, including project manager Rianne Gordon and brand manager Corinne Allen.
Rivas praised the students for coming up with socially conscious and eco-friendly strategies. “They paid attention to Chronixx’s passions and way of living, and made sure to infuse that into each department. It’s not a simple thing to do.” Moyon noted how they “delivered their work just as if they were employed by the artist.”
Chronixx and his team were equally impressed, inviting the students to continue working on the release through the summer. “We need all hands on deck right now, and it’s a great opportunity for someone just starting in the business so they can gain that experience,” said Rivas.
For Cartier, the opportunity to gain real-world experience provided a clear highlight in an unconventional academic year. “There’s a difference between playing make-believe with a random artist and actually designing a marketing plan for an established artist, and getting to implement it.”