Q&A with Alicia Caillier, Product Manager for Harmonix
By Lucía BurbanoAugust 22, 2018
Alicia Caillier M.A.'16 graduated from the master's degree in Global Entertainment and Music Business in July 2016. Photo courtesy of Caillier.
“There’s not a day at work that I don’t use skills that I learned in my studies at Berklee’s campus in Valencia.”
A post-graduate fellowship landed Alicia Caillier M.A.‘16 her current job at Harmonix, an interactive music experience company. As a product manager, her role entails taking care of audience research, analytics, and managing profit and loss statements as well as demo testing Harmonix’s video games with the public. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tunes under the name DJ Pineapple.
I’m going to quote the introduction from my Berklee application personal statement as I don’t think I could articulate it better today: “It was Saturday morning at Medici Bakery in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and I was up to my usual behavior: that is, singing along with every oldies tune that played on the radio while I searched for a summer internship. It was not until the 10th song that my roommate at the time looked up at me and asked, ‘Have you ever considered working in music business?’ This was the scariest, most eye-opening moment of my college career. I had just devoted 2.5 years to study to becoming a doctor, and thanks to this conversation and the University of Chicago’s infamous Common Core curriculum, I realized that while I will always want to help people, I was more interested in learning about their behavior and habits. This conclusion led me to pursue a career in music business with a focus in marketing.” I actually ended up pivoting from the marketing focus, but the point of this statement is that I realized at a crucial point in my journey that pursuing my passion as a career would be more fulfilling for me in the long run. And in order to help me jumpstart this dream, I applied to the Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program.
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned at Berklee?
Never limit yourself, and always be open to new opportunities. Before applying to the program I knew I wanted to work in music, but I never imagined working in video games. It’s funny because I actually love playing videos games and often did until sunrise with classmates in Valencia. Being open to new opportunities and not limiting myself to what others thought I would end up doing after the program proved to be the best advice I could ever follow.
Would you advise prospective students to come to Berklee’s Valencia campus for their graduate programs?
Absolutely. The year I spent in Valencia was one of the most transformative years of my life. I grew so much as a person and learned so much about music business. I also made lifelong connections with amazing people who are the future of the industry. There’s not a day at work that I don’t use skills that I learned in my studies at Berklee’s campus in Valencia. I’m very grateful for the experience and would recommend the master’s degree program to anyone who wants to take their career to the next level.
What things did you learn at Berklee that positioned you for success when you left and got your job?
Literally everything. From financial accounting and contract management to professional development and entrepreneurship, I utilize so much of what I learned daily. Also, constantly having discussions about the state of the music business and emerging business models conditioned me to always look for ways I can innovate.
Caillier participated in the Commencement Concert La Nit de Berklee 2016 with other fellow classmates. Watch the video of their performance here.
What was the best aspect of your experience at Berklee Valencia?
The weather…just kidding! Studying in Spain with peers from around the globe was the best aspect of the experience. I learned so much from my peers and constantly thought about everything I was learning through a global lens.
The ICC was a great resource for discussing career goals and learning about opportunities specifically for Berklee students. Their workshops were also really helpful and informative. If it weren’t for the ICC announcing the BerkleeICE fellowship program in the graduate music business seminar, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Learn how the graduate internship program helped Caillier:
You were a BerkleeICE ambassador. What are the major advantages of this fellowship?
This fellowship was the key to opening a new and amazing door in my career journey. Not only did this fellowship pair me with an amazing internship at Harmonix, but it also provided me with a stipend that covered my basic living expenses in Boston.
What is your day-to-day work like as a product manager for Harmonix?
I serve as the business owner of the product I’m currently working on. This entails so many things, like audience research, analytics, managing profit and loss statements, and a plethora of other really important business-related things. I get to work with pretty much every discipline, and ultimately I’m focusing on and advocating for the user. My day-to-day tasks vary, but my main goal is to make sure that the product we’re building is the right product for the person who will eventually purchase it.
You work on products like SingSpace and Super Beat Sports. Can you tell us more about these games?
I had the amazing opportunity to support the lead product manager on both of these projects, and they were super fun to work on. SingSpace is a virtual reality karaoke experience set in outer space and available on the Gear VR and Oculus Go. You can sing alone or with friends, which is awesome to experience. I had the amazing opportunity to demo this game at an event in London last year, which was incredible, probably the coolest thing I’ve done in my career thus far. Super Beat Sports is a cute rhythm action game taking place in outer space and available on the Nintendo Switch. There are multiple sports-themed mini-games, all with an alien twist, that can be played alone or with friends. I also got the opportunity to travel to PAX West in Seattle to show off this game, and it was so much fun playing with fans and getting to demo the product for people.
For those who don’t work in the field, what is an “interactive music experience company”?
An interactive music experience company is more than a game studio. We’re working on creating new and exciting ways for people to experience and interact with music. For example, we’ve explored the virtual reality space and created new ways for users to interact with music in this new medium.
Are you still DJing under the name DJ Pineapple?
I’m not officially DJing—outside of the house party circuit, that is—but I do still go by that name, and I always will.
BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC VALENCIA CAMPUS
Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía - Anexo Sur Avenida Profesor Lopez Piñero, 1 46013 Valencia (Spain) +34 963 332 802