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Getting to Know the Music Industry in Silicon Valley

Nashville, Tennessee is known as “Music City” in the United States. But on the west coast, some people might argue Silicon Valley is just as worthy of the name.

The valley is home to sound and music technology companies like Dolby Laboratories, Pandora and Smule.

And there is Real Industry, a non-profit organization to help techies get into the music industry. Priya Shekar is program director at the non-profit. She said, “Music technology is applications of STEM subjects like electrical engineering and computer science to music and audio applications.”

“That could be everything from designing new music apps, all the way to designing filters and effects that are used in audio production, to designing new instruments,” she added.

Through a series of workshops and online classes, Real Industry connects tech students, recent graduates and professionals with mentors in the music and entertainment industries.

The mentors come from companies like Sol Republic, Turtle Bay and Sonos. The students learn about the companies and their products.

More than 6,000 students from around the world have taken part in the online courses, and more than 200 have attended workshops in California.

Real Industry has also partnered with universities like Stanford in California as well as New York University and the University of Michigan. The schools hold classes like “Careers in Media Technology” on campus.

“I think a lot of jobs and responsibilities and careers go unexposed; they kind of stay behind the scenes of these companies,” said Shekar.

She is an electrical engineer with experience creating music education applications. “Having exposure lets [students] bring context to what they’re learning in school and all their other classes, but also helps them prepare for life after school.”

For industry leaders, the experience provides invaluable information.

“Industry folks are learning about what the next generation is learning, being able to tap into all of that fresh innovation and all these fresh ideas from these young kids who are users of products and fans of their products,” Shekar noted.

For Shekar, who is from New Zealand, the experience is not unlike her move to Silicon Valley. “It’s about knowing where to take that first step. A lot of people just don’t even know where to start.”

For music technologists hoping to break into the business, the answer might just be Silicon Valley.

I’m Pete Musto.

Tina Trinh wrote this report for Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

Silicon Valley n. an area, in the state of California, where there are many technology companies

techie n. someone who knows a lot about technology

application n. a computer program that performs a particular task

STEM n. short for science, technology, engineering and math

mentor n. someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person

tap v. to take or use money or knowledge from a source

innovation n. a new idea, device, or method

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