Q&A with Haein Erin Lee, Manager at the Global Initiatives and School Development Office at Seoul Jazz Academy
Picture courtesy of Haein Erin Lee
Born and raised in South Korea, Haein Erin Lee lived in Canada for seven years prior to attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. When she entered the workforce in the fall of 2013, she was the first Korean student to do so holding both bachelor's and master's degrees from Berklee. Lee graduated in Boston as a professional music major focusing on voice, and later received a Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business degree as a member of Berklee’s campus in Valencia’s inaugural graduating class. Music has long been a large part of her life and, today, Lee is the manager of Global Initiatives and School Development Office at Seoul Jazz Academy.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business at Berklee’s Valencia campus?
I have always enjoyed singing, which is why I chose to study a Major in Professional Music at Berklee College of Music’s campus in Boston. However, as I built my internship experiences at Jazz Revelation Records and at the Panama Jazz Festival, I found myself more capable and interested in backing artists instead of being on stage. Then, all of a sudden, I heard that Berklee was going to offer Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business. Very intuitively I just knew that I was going to apply to this program. It’s Berklee! I trusted Berklee’s campus in Valencia based on my previous experience at Berklee in Boston.
Tell us about your work as manager of Global Initiatives and School Development Office at Seoul Jazz Academy (SJA), and how Berklee prepared you for it.
SJA is a Berklee International Network (BIN) member, so our office communicates with the Admissions Department at Berklee in order to... organize and coordinate Berklee A & I and clinics in Seoul, hosting Berklee info sessions, and translating selected Berklee Today articles into Korean to share them online afterwards. I also provide Berklee prospective students and their parents with counseling services.
One very memorable Berklee-related project happened in early 2015. Mexican trio Los Rumberos de Massachusetts and Berklee alumni traveled to Korea in order to participate in a flash mob at the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) conference that year. With Berklee’s support, our office organized and coordinated this special performance. About 20 SJA students and faculty members joined the flashmob, and we rocked the house!
Besides Berklee-related work, I help non-Korean speaking SJA students and their parents communicate with their teachers and our staff members. In the past, we’ve had students from the U.S. to Paraguay, and this year a Spanish student is about to start his guitar [studies]. Those students are typically children of foreign diplomats or the U.S. soldiers stationed in Seoul.
What things did you learn at Berklee that positioned you for success when you left and got your job?
At the time I was the first Korean Berklee graduate who had [both a bachelor’s] and a master’s degree from Berklee, and I had also worked as a staff member there. Since SJA is strongly affiliated with Berklee, my unique background and being already comfortable working with the college became a great asset for SJA. I feel very fortunate that I can guide and advise Berklee prospective students through my Berklee experience.
If I had to give specific examples, SJA has two fantastic venues, and occasionally, non-Korean- speaking groups inquire about the venue rental, and I usually draft the venue rental contract. Additionally, SJA was asked to book English-speaking musicians through an international corporation a while ago, and I intermediated as a booking agent. Both the Business and Intellectual Property Law and Operation of Live Entertainment [courses] I studied at Berklee’s campus in Valencia allowed me to write contracts from scratch in English without panicking!
Aside from this, I co-manage our SJA website and Facebook page. The [courses] International Marketing and Branding, and Online and Social Media Management definitely helped me understand digital marketing and the strategies that work.
What opportunities did you have, being in Valencia, that you may not have had otherwise?
All global entertainment and music business graduate students attend MIDEM, one of the largest international music exhibitions in Cannes, France, as part of their curriculum. How often can you possibly get a chance to visit Cannes and network with the music industry professionals from all around the world?
Also, I did my internship at a small local company in Valencia where they import Kpop (Korean pop music) products and distribute them across the Iberian Peninsula. The company founder and my co-workers were younger than I was, and they were all Caucasian Spanish. It was very fascinating to see non-Koreans being very passionate about Korean pop culture, and making business from it. I was able to witness how Korean culture has an influence in different places, and eventually the reality of Kpop business. Most importantly, I made my family-like friends through my internship.
What is your fondest memory of your time at the Valencia campus?
Whether it was Friday night or Sunday morning, global entertainment and music business graduate students had to study very hard, and I really mean it. I even wished that a day was 30 hours instead of 24. We had a lot of group assignments and presentations, and the classmates had to get together very often. We argued, laughed, had “ah-ha” moments, and snoozed. One day, we even had to dress up formally and pitch our ideas to the rest of us as if it was a real professional situation. It was definitely not easy, but I really miss those times.