Frost Students Compete in Pandora Challenge

Frost Students Compete in Pandora Challenge

By UM News

Frost Students Compete in Pandora Challenge

By UM News
Eleven competing teams utilized their creative and technological skills to launch and optimize a marketing campaign.

The music streaming and internet radio service Pandora, and education-focused Real Industry, co-hosted the “Pandora Challenge,” a national music marketing and playlist campaign in partnership with Warner Bros. Records hip-hop artist Phora and his non-profit foundation Your Truly, at the University of Miami on September 13, 2018. The event was led by Frost School of Music graduate Heather Ellis (BM in Music Business and Entertainment Industries ’13), Manager of Artist Marketing at Pandora, and Jay LeBoeuf, Executive Director at Real Industry.

Pandora and Real Industry kicked-off their music and social impact challenge program in 2017 on college campuses across the U.S., with over 1,200 students, to date, applying their skills toward awareness and social impact in conjunction with a variety of major artists and their foundations. The University of Miami was the first stop on their fall 2018 eastern campus tour.

“Phora just released his newest album Yours Truly Forever with songs focusing on mental health. We’re giving UM students an opportunity to leverage the artist’s voice in support of the foundation, and we’re handing them the tools to act on it,” explained Ellis. “The challenge broadens exposure for the West Coast-based artist while supporting dialogue and the de-stigmatization of issues pertaining to mental health.”

Serona Elton, Director of the Music Business and Entertainment Industries Program, said, “We’re very excited to participate in the Pandora Challenge: Music and Social Impact at the Frost School of Music. It is very important that, as future leaders of the music business, our students understand not only how music can drive commerce, but also how music can drive social change.”

During the event, LeBoeuf assured students, “My commitment to you is that you learn how to apply the principles of marketing, branding and community building in order to be a successful entrepreneur, artist, manager, or other music business professionals. You will learn how to look at, act upon, and analyze data, specifically fan engagement data and artist demographics; how to create and actually launch a real-world campaign to benefit a major artist; and how to drive a successful call to action.”

The Pandora Challenge began with 110 Frost students tackling the intersection of music, marketing, and social impact. Breaking out into eleven competing teams in the West Ballroom of the SCC, students utilized their creative and technological skills to launch and optimize a grassroots marketing campaign for Yours Truly. Teams were given first-hand access to Pandora’s artist marketing platform (AMP) to build a music mix playlist while adding voice commentary and graphics to enhance the online experience. Once launched, campaigns will be tracked over a three-week period by sophisticated analytics software to determine which one drew and sustained the greatest listener traffic. The winning campaign team will be invited to a half-day video conference with Pandora leadership for a networking career development and mentorship Q&A. All participants received a free 3-month premium subscription to Pandora.

Frost Music Business and Entertainment Industries majors Michelle Boursiquot and Evan Thomas, and screenwriting major Isabella Leroy collaborated on one of the teams. Boursiquot works with Universal Music as a college and lifestyle representative and interned last summer with a music distribution company in digital streaming and marketing. “My generation is very activist-oriented, and music is a great way to create social impact,” she said. “Phora is using his foundation to market a cause that he cares about, which makes him seem very transparent as an artist.”

Thomas added, “Being part of social change in today’s music industry is vital. A lot of people get caught up in the money, which comes and goes, but change and impact can last for years.”

“Music has a great power to heal,” said Leroy. “Young adults influence music and drive the focus. I think it’s wonderful that we’re being utilized to help figure out how to support Phora’s cause.”

The Pandora Challenge program provides students an inside look at how to apply their classroom learning to real music industry careers, giving them a chance to connect with new career opportunities and build their professional networks.

Students working together at Pandora Challenge event

Students working together at Pandora Challenge event