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Innovation in the Field

“We Want Our Music To Do Good”

When music professor Mark Katz says he wants his students to have a hands-on learning experience, he means it.

Katz often takes his classes on a “field trip” to his office to check out his turntables. For students raised on listening to CDs and iPods, playing with turntables can be a novelty. But this hands-on approach isn’t just for novelty’s sake. The First Year Seminar class, “Making and Marketing Music in the Digital Age,” is all about engagement, interaction and hands-on experiences.

Katz brings DJs, producers, promoters and entrepreneurs to the classroom. The students bob their heads as they listen to original tracks and ask questions about the music industry. The students interview local musicians, explore digital distribution issues and study the effects of marketing music via social networking platforms.

In the past three years, Katz has brought hip-hop-related courses — the Beat Making Lab, the Art and Culture of the DJ, Rap Lab, Rock Lab — to the department’s academic offerings. The reach of these courses — what Katz calls the Carolina Beat Academy — has extended beyond the classroom to have worldwide influence through the Beat Making Lab.

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