SAEM students manage high school artists for WYEP ‘Reimagination’ compilation CD

Written By Alexander Popichak

Point Park’s sports, arts and entertainment management program (SAEM) has teamed up with WYEP-FM’s youth media project Reimagine Media to assist in the creation and promotion of its “Reimagination” CD. The CD is a compilation album comprising of 10 tracks from teenage musicians in the Pittsburgh area.

Previously, the CD was created directly by public radio station WYEP, but Reimagine Media program directors hope that Point Park’s involvement will add a missing piece to the program – providing artists with marketing support once their songs have been recorded.

“Point Park has their sports, arts and entertainment management program, and they and the Reimagination program were acting independently of one another when we realized we were sort of shooting for the same goal,” Greg Joseph said at the WYEP Community Broadcast Center on Pittsburgh’s South Side Saturday. 

Joseph is an adjunct SAEM professor at Point Park, a board member at WYEP and member of the Clarks, a Pittsburgh rock band.

“The students at Point Park were trying to get managerial experience, and the students with the Reimagination program, who are high school students, were trying to get playing experience. It was the synergies of those two that make up the industry that it is – the promotional side and the managerial side,” Joseph said.

WYEP’s youth media group Reimagine Media is comprised of several area high school students interested in music promotion and radio production. The Reimagination CD, in its third year, is the major annual effort by the group where students pick musicians for the CD and work closely with artists in the recording process.

“Reimagination, to me, is an opportunity for high school age students to get their first chance at working in a recording studio, to get their first chance at being on a CD or album project, possibly their first chance to get out in front of audiences and to learn about the business of music,” Joseph said. “I don’t think there’s any other way to streamline or learn the industry as quickly in this community, or any community for that matter, as what we do with this project.”

According to Matthew Spangler, director of community engagement and education at WYEP, SAEM students will enhance the ban’s’ experience, giving them a roadmap for future promotion.

“To break it down, there are a couple of different things happening,” Spangler said at the WYEP Community Broadcast Center Saturday. “There are about 60 [SAEM] students that will be breaking up into groups of six to team up with our musicians and act as their marketing team. The degree is in sports, arts and entertainment management, this is giving them a case study, an opportunity to try what they’re learning in school and do it in a real world environment.”

The case study, Spangler said, will be an exercise for SAEM students in marketing music acts from the start of the project to its completion.

 “The [SAEM] students are going to be creating a press/media kit, taking headshots of the musicians, creating bios, helping them with social media and also creating the bios for the CD booklet,” Spangler said. “The hope is that the Point Park students will be directly involved with the CD packaging. Included with that, there are three workshops with three professors and adjunct professors from Point Park University: Greg Joseph, Ed Traversari and Amy Cooper all on various aspects of touring, booking shows, copyrights, songwriting issues and things like that.”

The first workshop session on songwriting and copyrighting work was held Saturday, Feb. 13 at the WYEP studios on the South Side. The second will take place Saturday, Feb. 20 in Point Park’s JVH Auditorium and will be an introduction to SAEM for artists, Reimagine Media students and SAEM students involved with the project. The third workshop will be held at Stage AE.

Spangler said the partnership will add another dimension to a student’s experience in the SAEM program.

“One thing that I’ve realized just in any career is that you need real world experience – you need internships, you need to flex your muscle, if you will – you need to practice your skill. With this program, SAEM may go through the entire experience without directly managing somebody” Spangler said. “They go through some courses, they learn some things, maybe they’re part of a project that helps out with someone from Pioneer Records, but this gives them an opportunity to practice and to experiment so that when they do go out into the world looking for, perhaps bands to manage, they have a portfolio already.”

The program not only helps the artists chosen to be in the compilation, but also gives experience to the Reimagine students who act as junior producers on the project.

“I think without a doubt that the music industry is based on networking,” Alex Barcic, a junior at Fox Chapel High School said Saturday at the WYEP community broadcast center. “No matter what you’re in – if you’re [on] the radio, whether you’re an artist, a songwriter, or you’re a producer or recording engineer – I think networking has such a huge role in going where you want to be, wherever it is. Just to get involved in this program is such a helpful thing, I think.”

According to Spangler, the program has been successful in starting teens in the direction. An artist from the first Reimagination CD, Grace Tandon who now goes by the stage name Daya, has gone on to produce the Top 40 hit “Hide Away.” Reimagine’s goal is to provide artists with a similar, if not better, starting point.

“There are kids that go from having written their first song to playing in front of hundreds of people at the [Three Rivers] Arts Festival, or [having] a press kit, or [having] air play,” Greg Joseph said. “Those steps to go from first song to getting on a big stage for most people take years and for this we really give them an opportunity.”