Many Ameri and Torsten Schmidt, Red Bull Music Academy, Founders
What started as a smart bit of marketing for the ubiquitous nightclub drink has grown to become an education platform and a new means of bankrolling an evolving music business. Launched in 1998, the globetrotting main event features public concerts and lectures with invite-only workshops and recording sessions for a select group of up-and-coming producers, DJs, and musicians in what Ameri and Schmidt tout as a strictly no-strings-attached environment (Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc, and Tokimonsta are among the notable alumni). Though its scope has widened beyond DJ culture in recent years, the program continues to honor electronic music's roots, with recent lecturers including Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, and Brian Eno. Beyond the annual five-week "term," the RBMA brand has expanded to partnerships with international festivals, an Internet radio station, artist compilations, and a documentary, with RBMA's first ever music festival – focused on New York dance music and culture – kicking off in May. Strings or none, Red Bull's sponsorship model highlights an increasingly unavoidable role of corporate involvement in supporting the music business, proving to be an early leader among youth-centric brands in the now common practice of subsidizing subcultures.
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