You see signs for it all over the city, whether it is on subway platforms, large construction zone wall posters, or just ads that follow you around on Spotify. Red Bull Music Academy pops up in your eyesight early spring every year, and unless you’re heavily involved in the industry, you’re probably asking yourself – “What the hell even is this?”

Unless you’ve been living in some shit town in rural Alabama or something, you’ve probably noticed by now that Red Bull has the lifestyle content marketing down probably better than any other beverage company out there right now. They throw sick parties at events like Fashion Week, SXSW, and sporting events across the globe. They always seem to have some kind of presence at most large music festivals, whether it be at Coachella, Governor’s Ball, or some epically awesome EDM event over in Brussels. Hell, they even branded that dude who jumped back to the earth from outer space. Yes Red Bull understands the ability to get to (young) consumers via the relationship of lifestyle branding and marketing through events those consumers love to attend.

So that brings us back to the question, exactly what the hell is the Red Bull Music Academy? The company website will tell you that it is “A world-traveling series of music workshops and festivals: a platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape.” While it’s not exactly your traditional school in the typical sense of the word, it does offer music industry education in two forms – one being a two-week workshop in which two groups of thirty, carefully selected musicians and producers of various genres throughout the world come to learn about the current and future state of their craft via customized learning areas via lectures, workshops, recording sessions, and gigs in a different city each year- 2015 taking place in Paris. The second form of the Academy is through its media assets, including radio broadcast, films/documentaries, interviews, and an online publication which can be accessed by anyone interested in hearing what the pioneers and tastemakers in the industry have to say.

While I haven’t always seen the point of a relationship between music and Red Bull other than branding, this is a very unique way of pushing music forward with helping artists and fans alike discovering new forms of music through a popular brand platform such as Red Bull. The public portion of the program that takes place here in NYC every year will again feature the shows, interviews, and events for those music obsessed freaks like myself to dive into throughout the month of May. Red Bull’s mantra has always been around the idea of pushing the boundaries of what it possible. In this case they’ve put together a really cool platform to encourage those involved in music to keep pushing those boundaries.

Red Bull Music Academy may be small, and even mostly unknown to those who walk the streets and ride the subways across NYC every day, but it’s one effective piece in a large, ever-evolving puzzle that is the music industry that changes with each calendar year. With so many old-fashioned pessimistic industry veterans focused on trying to keep the old industry model alive, its outlets like RBMA that help a forward progress-based mindset among young tastemakers and musicians in an era where we should be thinking about new possibilities for art and commerce rather than clinging to the past. So keep helping us push the boundaries Red Bull, for who knows what we might discover next!

For more info on what to expect in the next four to five weeks, head over to RBMA’s events page for a full listing of everything going on.


Article by: Tom Shackleford


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