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Music has always been part of Alexandre Perrin’s life. His relationship with the medium, however, has not always followed a straight path. He started to play the piano at the age of 9 and developed a passion for jazz thanks to his older brother. Later on, while studying for a master’s degree in management at the Audencia Business School in Nantes, France, he chose the record label Blue Note as his professional project, being impressed by their artistic covers and the quality of their productions. “After that, I finally started my career in the consulting world, but I always kept track of the music industry as a consumer,” he says.
Prior to becoming a professor with the global entertainment and music business master’s degree program and the Berklee Study Abroad program on Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Perrin worked in several international companies, helping them manage their data more efficiently, simplifying complex scenarios, and training other people. It was the latter that Perrin enjoyed the most and what drove him to get into teaching. “You make others learn, and you learn from others: that is the magic of this job.”
This was the prelude of his re-encounter with music. At one point he started to research creative industries and learned about key universities in that domain. “Berklee was one of them,” he says. “I ended up at Berklee’s campus in Valencia in 2013 because the campus was on my radar and I wanted to live in the city.”
Perrin states that his pedagogy is based on three pillars: data analysis, creativity, and teamwork. Regarding data analysis, he believes that there are economic, financial, and legal rules that students need to master in order to reinvent or disrupt a market or an industry. As for creativity, he believes that “you cannot be creative out of the box,” citing W. Edwards Deming: “Without data you are just another person with an opinion.” Teamwork sits in the center of his philosophy because “although innovation usually starts with one brain, it needs other brains to improve it.”
The Berklee Case Center
Case studies are the perfect framework for Perrin’s methodology, providing students with a detailed story about a company, an artist, or a nonprofit organization that succeeded or failed in the industry. “As we learn to understand the problems they faced, we can see that there are no right or wrong answers,” he says. Again, data is key since the background for each case is supported by quantitative methods like accounting, finance, or statistics “to make sense of the bigger and smaller picture.”
Watch this video to learn more about the case study methodology:
A major contribution he has made to Berklee is the creation and development of the Case Center, which he set up together with other faculty members at the Boston campus in January 2016. Its aim is to produce pedagogical materials and deeply analyze both artists’ careers and companies that are reinventing the industry’s development. “I see this as a tool for improving teaching skills in classrooms as well as for publishing amazing stories about how organizations finance music, how artists make music, or how music is distributed in the digital age,” he says.
Perrin also mentors around 20 students every year to help them prepare for the professional world by advising them while they are developing their business plans and setting goals and timelines to achieve them. Perrin values their ability to see the operational issues and the broader picture, and their capacity to question the classical biases that appear when you are testing your idea against the reality. “At Berklee, everybody knows that music has a value, but the mainstream consumer of music may see that differently.” In Perrin’s opinion, students normally succeed when they are able to bridge that gap.
In addition to this, Perrin says that the global entertainment and music business program admires people with social values, which is why they invite speakers and innovators who do not fall into predictable categories. “The core value of Berklee is diversity,” he remarks. For this reason, he believes it’s important for students to listen to different voices to be able to create their own opinions. “We believe that our students are capable of doing this and that they are smart enough to challenge the existing models.”