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"I strongly encourage you to play as much as possible with any musician from campus. You’ll learn a lot from everybody, and you will push yourself to the highest levels."
Felipe Saalfeld M.A.’15 is a trained civil and environmental engineer who started out producing emerging artists back in his native Chile. During his time in Valencia, he organized Jazz para el Autismo, which raised funds for Música para el Autismo, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that helps autistic and socially excluded children through music therapy. Since September 2015, he has worked as a senior analyst at Live Nation, where he monitors all the operational phases involved in setting up a live show. He is also currently writing and producing a progressive rock concept album, which he is hoping to finish by early 2019.
Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in Berklee’s Global Entertainment and Music Business program at the Valencia campus?
When I finished my bachelor’s degree in Chile, I just knew I didn’t want to work as an engineer; plus I had this studying abroad wish. I knew Berklee because some of my musical influencers like John Petrucci, Derek Sherinian, and Steve Vai had studied there, and the Global Entertainment and Music Business program was the perfect extension for my former career.
Would you advise prospective students to come to Berklee’s Valencia campus for their master’s degree programs?
Yes, absolutely. Apart from the program itself, the surroundings and location of the campus at the City of Arts and Sciences are astonishing.
What opportunities did you have, being in Valencia, that you may not have had otherwise?
For Valencia itself, I would say experiencing a super-rich cultural environment in a city with perfect weather. From being abroad, I learned to start over again and to leave my perfect comfort zone. I met people from more than 30 countries studying at Berklee Valencia, and many of them became very good friends who I still stay in touch with. I love that about Europe.
While in Valencia, you also volunteered as an artistic promoter for fundraising at Música para el Autismo (MUA). Can you tell me more about this experience and what you learned from it?
Jazz para el Autismo 2015 was my culminating experience project for Berklee, which I did in collaboration with Jacopo Mezzanotti, from the Contemporary Performance program. This started as a hall conversation we had one day. I was issuing all the production and promotion, and Jacopo was the artistic director. We decided to search for a music-related NGO from Valencia that could cooperate with our show, and Música para el Autismo, which raises funds to provide music therapy for children with autism and for families in social risk, replied immediately, supporting our idea. We did an almost full house in Teatro La Rambleta, raising a good amount of money, which helped the NGO budget lots of treatments for the upcoming year.
You currently work as a senior analyst at Live Nation. Can you tell us more about what do you do?
I’m part of the operations department. I have to monitor the whole “big picture” of the show, from the pre-show issues when we get an accepted offer and we budget with promoters’ first estimations; to the show itself, which includes the preparation of all data and invoices for settling; and finally to the post show issues, such as uploading the result to our international system or fixing accounting accruals internally. The operational system we use was an optimization-based project I designed as a request from our president and head promoter, Robert Grima. We call it “Brain”. For example, this year we had a change on the VAT rate, from 21 percent to 10 percent, so I had to figure out a way to adjust our spreadsheets to have a hybrid version with the tickets that were already purchased at 21 percent, and all remaining sales at 10 percent.
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned at Berklee that you have then applied in your career?
Understanding the bigger picture of the music business. I work in live music, but understanding the interaction between publishers, labels, or brands is fundamental.
How did the International Career Center (ICC) help you develop your professional career?
They took care of the paperwork so I could do an internship at Live Nation Madrid. When I was a student, I also went to all the ICC activities. It’s a great opportunity to speak with professionals from the real world.
You also play the guitar. Did you get to play a lot while in Valencia? Have you been writing or performing much since you graduated from Berklee?
A lot. And I strongly encourage you, if possible, to play as much as possible with any musician from campus. You’ll learn a lot from everybody, and you will push yourself to the highest level. Currently, I’m writing and producing a progressive rock concept album together with a music partner and friend in Madrid, Gonzalo Bosque. The project doesn’t have a name yet, but hopefully you will hear more by late 2018 or early 2019.
You recently visited Berklee’s campus in Valencia. What was the reason for your visit?
I did two master classes for Alexandre Perrin’s class: one was about pricing strategies, and the second one was an interactive case I prepared. I hope to be back soon, I really loved visiting.