Summer camps and in person internships in 2020 were doomed since the beginning of the CoronaVirus outbreak. The few that didn’t shut down were the lucky ones. One camp, famous for its graduates such as Marren Morris, that virtually persevered was GRAMMY Camp. Usually this camp takes place at USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles and is a 5-day nonresidential program. This program teaches you the ins and outs of the music industry with one of the 8 specific tracks. These tracks include Audio Engineering, Electronic Music Production, Songwriting, Performance (vocal), Music Journalism, Video Production & motion graphics, Music Business, and Performance (instrumental).
I received the honor of attending the Music Journalism track.
I was concerned for online adaption to this program because one of the key topics of teaching is social networking and live performances. I was soon proven wrong on the first Zoom. My first camp wide Zoom had music blasting and instructors with energy to spare. Instructors introduced themselves and described their roles in the industry. My individual track was taught by Andy Hermann, who has written for Rolling Stone , La Weekly, and Billboard .
Every track then broke off for ninety minutes to learn more from their specific instructors. In Music Journalism we analyzed albums, discussed podcasts as a growing industry, and most importantly talked about the steps we need to take in order to make this our profession.
Every day a different guest artist would do a Q&A and perform some of their top hits.
At the end of the week we got to meet Moon Taxi, Ok Go, Plain White T’s, and Bryce Vine. Gaining insight about how Grammy nominated hits like “Hey There Delilah” came to be, was inspiring and raw. Every artist gave their full attention to every question and proceeded to tell everyone the hard hitting truth about the industry.
I had a huge takeaway from Bryce Vine, since he has two hits that have skyrocketed his pop career. His performance and words of wisdom are hard to forget and I would advise anyone to go see him in concert (when safe to do so).
The collaboration hour between the different tracks is an impactful element to this camp.
The music journalism class would meet with audio engineer class, or the vocalist class would meet with the instrumentalist, etc. This played into the main theme, “social networking”. Individuals in tracks not only connected on social media platforms but also interacted with each other to figure out how their roles in the industry benefit one another. This gave us all a better chance to get to know each other, even through Zoom. Instructors also gave us huge insight to their personal experience of working with people in specified professions in the music industry.
The final events, Camp Lunch with Professionals and Camp Wide Open House.
I was matched in a Zoom room with six other individuals and professional songwriter Evan Bogart. He is credited for writing the Grammy award winning song “Halo” and working with countless artists such as Lizzo, Maroon 5, Madison Beer and many many more. The individual conversations we had with Evan were such a privilege and we all got to hear crazy entertaining stories about working with Lizzo and Beyoncé. He broke down the multiple jobs that are necessary to create a song and explained the ranking of the incoming money. Bogart, was realistic and authentic as he explained exactly what we needed to hear.
The final event of GRAMMY Camp was the Open House. This was a collaborative experience for all of us. It showed us how each track has acquired and expands its knowledge. All of us represent the different parts of the music industry and in the end, each branch contributes to the word’s ability to listen and enjoy music.
I have never been so blown away with a virtual experience as this one. The knowledge and notes given by the leaders are something I will take with me as I venture into my profession in the music industry. As David Sears said,
This isn’t fantasy camp, this is real life.”David Sears, lead director of GRAMMY Camp
About GRAMMY Camp
GRAMMY Camp Los Angeles is a 5-day nonresidential summer music industry program for high school students interested in having a career in music. Hosted on the campus of USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, students from across the country apply for one of the eight offered career tracks. GRAMMY Camp faculty of music professionals as well as guest industry professionals provide valuable insight to give the campers the best chance at achieving success in their chosen career.