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“The idea of melding education and mod-


ern music business has always been in the back of my head,” Scott Booker, ACM@ UCO CEO and executive director says. “It is a multi-billion dollar industry that is con- tinually changing.”


Booker started in the music industry by working at a record store as a clerk when he was 15 years old. After graduating with an education degree with an emphasis in histo- ry from the University of Central Oklahoma, he met a native Oklahoma band known as the “Flaming Lips,” and he started managing them in 1989.


The university campus in the heart of Bricktown is just steps away from many up-and-coming music venues.


Students get hands-on training specialized to their fields. Photo courtesy ACM@UCO


Since then, Booker has had a robust career of managing artists that have won Grammy Awards and have been nominated for Academy Awards, in addition to selling mil- lions of records. “What I’ve seen in managing bands is that they break up and don’t do well because they didn’t understand how this works. It can feel more sensational because it’s about the music industry.” The coursework and training the universi- ty offers is a practical experience of how the music industry works. According to Booker, transformative learning changes the mindset of how modern music careers appear from afar to realistic expectations. “We don’t guarantee anyone will come here and leave as a star with a million-dollar contract,” Booker says. “The odds are that you won’t. The odds are that it’s going to be a difficult struggle to do any of this, just like in any business. What we try to do here is we try to create a situation which through knowledge, we even the odds,” Booker says.


Getting the Family Vibe


The ACM@UCO believes the music in- dustry is better now than it’s ever been. Faculty say the Internet has made it possible for people to listen to and have access to different kinds of artists more than ever be- fore. As educators, the faculty strives to help figure out ways the music industry will move along. There are three different degree paths a student can follow. One is the path of an associate or bachelor’s degree in perfor- mance, which involves a focus on guitar, bass drums, vocals or keyboards. The pro- duction path teaches students how to run a production studio, which includes training in cutting-edge software platforms. “Originally we believed those students


would want to only run a studio, but the interesting thing we found out is about 50 percent of students who go through the pro- duction path also view the studio as an in- strument for genres like hip-hop and electronic,” Booker says. The third path a student can follow is mu- sic business. This track helps those who are interested in the multitude of options in the music industry, like working for a record la- bel or managing artists or venues. Every stu- dent takes music business courses. Liz Johnson, director of public relations


and marketing, works to make the school’s programs accessible for all potential students. “The program has all the benefits of the university community,” Johnson says. “Especially appealing to those attending from rural areas, public transportation is free for students to come from the main campus to ACM@UCO.” Johnson says all ACM@UCO students have access to the services a main campus student would have, such as campus life, meal packages and libraries. She encourages students to feel free to meet with program heads and take a tour of the facility. “I toured the facility three times because I


was so ready to be here,” Mallory Eagle, vo- cal performance major, says. “My first year was amazing. It’s summer break and I am missing school.” Each student brings his or her own unique


talent and style to the classroom. Often re- ferred to as the “School of Rock,” Booker says the contemporary music school is too diverse to place under just one genre. Rock and roll, R&B, soul, pop and country sounds stream through the school on a daily basis. “I feel like I am close to everyone in my grade,” Eagle says. “We play music in be- tween classes together and it’s been great.” Eagle says these friendships are beneficial both now and in the future. “I definitely feel I could have a career in


Oklahoma,” Eagle says. “Both the school and the local pride have that home ‘vibe.’ I feel like I’m in a musical family.”


Setting the Stage


The ACM@UCO has been a catalyst to the resurgence of the music scene in Oklahoma according to Tava Sofsky, director at the Oklahoma Film + Music Office (OF+MO). OF+MO strives to support, promote and connect with fans, musicians, music


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