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RZA | Red Bull Music Academy | Master Class

Master Class

by Andy Davis / 21.03.2011

What has a brand done for you lately? I mean apart from urge you to spend your money on them? It’s generally a one way street. The sum total of brand interaction: You pay for what you get. And they spend their substantial marketing budgets trying to persuade you that you need or want what they’re selling. Sometimes they deliver what you want, but you always pay for it. That’s why the Red Bull Music Academy is such a unique project. Imagine a free university for talented, young, wannabe professional musicians. Kind of like an intensive 2 week crash course MBA for the music industry. And all you have to do is apply.

This is how it works. If you’re selected to attend the Red Bull Music Academy, you get flown to the international destination (this year the meltdown is in Tokyo, in November – far enough in the future for them to have cleaned up all that tsunami mess and radiation), you get accommodated and given a per diem to feed and clothe yourself. In return, you’re expected to show up each day (at the reasonable hour of 11am) and participate in a series of lectures from global music industry luminaries. Over the two week curriculum, they’ll pretty much cover every aspect of the music industry from recording, song writing, lyricism to production, distribution, marketing and leveraging off the new technology like social media. Better yet, this is all done in a conversational style by a stellar cast of music industry heavyweights. Imagine chatting about the intricacies of lyricism with hip hop luminary Prince Paul. Production techniques with King Britt or Carl Craig. How about a lecture on innovation from Bob Moog about how he invented the synthesiser. Learn about the global rise of Brazilian music with Gilberto Gil or the UK’s bass culture from Aba Shanti I, Dennis Bovell and the Mad Professor. Or check out Hugh Masekela, below, talking about the pitfalls of becoming successful through your music.

After the lectures and open-mic Q and A sessions, you should be suitably inspired to hit the studio and work on your own shit. Colab with people in your class, and if you’re persuasive enough, you might even get the heavyweights to come and drop a joint on your track. The Academy provides all the latest and most technologically advanced recording and production equipment, for you to play with. Later in the day you can drop your recently created masterpiece on the Red Bull Music Academy Radio station, or play it live in club gigs across the host city. That’s the Academy experience in a nutshell. Root to fruit.

Here ?uestlove from the Roots downloads his knowledge on the Red Bull Music Academy students.

At no stage will anyone ask you to drink or endorse an energy drink. But if you want one, they’re at the back in the fridge, just help yourself. This is the ultimate kind of marketing because it’s not marketing at all. It’s taking the considerable power of a massive international brand and leveraging off that to create real and meaningful opportunities for young musicians, without trying to sell them an energy drink. By removing the bald sales pitch entirely, they win over these edgy creatives by just giving them what they want. An opportunity to learn from the best, network with like-minded, creative individuals from around the world and showcase their skills on a global platform. Emboldened, warm and fuzzy associations between Red Bull and the music industry ensue. Marketing is achieved, but that’s just a spin off. The main focus is the music, the knowledge and providing opportunities for talented young musicians.

If you’re interested, apply for the Red Bull Music Academy here and hit up the info sessions in Cape Town, Joburg and Durban this week to learn more.

Durban-born Nkosinathi Maphumulo – aka Black Coffee – has been on the music scene for over a decade.

In 2003 he was selected to represent South Africa at the Red Bull Music Academy where his elegant style of House was first exposed to the world.

Since then, his smash hit remixes and productions have dominated the airwaves all over the globe, receiving numerous awards

Collaborations with the likes of Hugh Masekela have won him both local and international acclaim with audiences both young and old.

Having played at prominent clubs all over the world we invite you to come appreciated one of South Africa’s finest, as Black Coffee continues to define true African House music

Black Coffee wil be hosting a short discussion on the art of the remix at the beginning of each event so get there early if you would like to learn a little more about him and his production and some tips on applying for the Red Bull Music Academy to be held in Tokyo this year

Cape Town

Date : Wednesday 23rd March
Venue: Chrome
Discussion Starts 20H00
Party Begins 21H00
Featuring Black Coffee , Thibo Tazz


Date : Thursday 24rd March
Venue: The Bank
Discussion Starts 20H00
Party Begins 21H00
Featuring Black Coffee, Sisco Umlambo, T-Man, Julian Gomes


Date : Sunday 27rd March
Venue: Max Lifestyle
Party Begins 12H00 Midday
Featuring Black Coffee, Blque Soul, Bhaskar

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  1. chris says:

    Fully agree.

    As an aside, I thought that Vitamin Water rocking up in the city a couple years back had a similar, if slightly less prestigious, effect on city life, and the cultural landscape.

    Granted, their launch never made life as awesome as a ticket to the academy would, but it was open to everyone, so the net effect was somewhere close. For a month you could visit their popup store and listen to mad dubstep when it was still fresh, surrounded by fridges of free shit.

    I’m not a fan of vitamin water, but it was a good time.

    And I miss that Redbull radio station.
    They opened it for the academy a few years back. Maybe it became Mutha FM or something, but some amazing people played some great sets it those two weeks.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Buddy

    Sorry the above is marketing, it’s smart marketing, today you cannot just sell a product/brand it needs to be something more.It needs to have a personality.

    Something that engages with the customer,causes a response and connects with him/her emotionally. They are trying to sell you a drink ,because without people purchasing that drink they wouldn’t be able to do this…

    You’ve just done marketing for them or more know as PR, on MAHALA Red Bull is advertising at the moment and a part of that could be that you need to do write up’s.

    I do like what they are doing, but they are still a brand/product and their intentions might be good ,but it is with the bottom line in sight.

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  3. Andy says:

    Sure it is Anon… but there’s no energy drink hard sell going on here. This is the world we live in, Red Bull can only afford to do this because they sell so many cans. But the brand is rolling out the red carpet for up and coming musicians, providing something meaningful without trying to sell them an energy drink. And in so doing creating a culturally relevant phenom that invariably enriches the lives of those involved and only helps to sell energy drinks. If they made it about selling energy drinks and not 100% entirely about the music, the RBMA would be a miserably failure. It only works because it’s all about the music.

    Lastly this story is not an “added value” component of the Red Bull Mobile advertising on top of the page. We cover this as a bonafide cultural opportunity… applications close in 10 days.

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  4. nissim says:

    Need to distinguish here between advertising a product, and advertising a brand. Red Bull does both. Their kiddie-centric animated tv campaigns do the former. The RBMA, etc, does the latter.
    Just because RB aren’t pushing those tin cans down peoples gullet doesn’t mean they’re just doing it for fun, and good tunes. It just means they get branding in a more contemporary, sophisticated context. Does it bother me? I don’t give a fuck, as long as there will be more good tunes, extreme action and F1 sponsorship. If we take sponsorship out of the equation, consumers land up footing the whole bill. But its up to us to be cognizant of the role played by the brand, and never forget that whoever is paying for the party is calling the shots.

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  5. media vomit says:

    suck-ing sa-tan’s peck-er. Suck it!!!!

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  6. Andy says:

    must be nice to live in your little capitalism proof biosphere Media Vomit… bet there’s a nice view in there for you to look down on all the mortals sullying their souls. Fela Kuti wrote a song for you. It’s called Expensive Shit… listen to the chorus, over and over again. That’s you they’re singing about.

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  7. Carbon says:

    @Chris Red Bull Music Academy Radio is DEFINITELY still around. You can even get it on your iphone, ipad etc. See: redbullmusicacademyradio.com
    @Anonymous – jaded much? appreciate that everything in the world requires some money behind it. the Academy is a rare opportunity to find amazing talent. It certainly isn’t an Idols kind of thing. now THAT makes me sick. Show respect where respect is due. Andy’s story is bonified appreciation of the initiative and not the product. Guess u should stop watching Olymics and FIFA world cups if you’re that jaded with brands getting involved with international events.

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