Universal Music Group, Penguin Putnam Inc. Join Forces to Launch InsideSessions, an Innovative Distance Learning Venture
Penguin Putnam Inc. and Universal Music Group today launched InsideSessions, a joint venture that creates entertaining and informative distance learning programs for people who aspire to break into the music or book publishing industries.
Phyllis Grann, chief executive officer and president of Penguin Putnam Inc., and Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, jointly conceived InsideSessions. Lori Weintraub, the former executive vice president of Warner Vision Entertainment and former CEO of Time Warner AudioBooks, is president of the new company.
“InsideSessions is about breaking down barriers and opening doors for the next generation of aspiring artists, authors and industry executives,” Doug Morris said. “Everyone jumped at the chance to get involved with this project and share their personal experiences. I wish something like InsideSessions was available to me when I was first getting started in this business.”
“Doug and I wanted to develop a course that was interesting, yet authentic, providing young artists the real insider’s perspective from the very best musicians, authors and executives who are at the heart of these businesses,” said Phyllis Grann. “What makes InsideSessions so unique are the very personal stories and lessons that are shared by the artists and executives themselves. By combining star talent and insider resources, Penguin Putnam, Universal Music Group, and a major university have together developed one of the most inspiring and spectacular distance learning programs in music and publishing. This program is one of a kind.”
InsideSessions’ online learning programs are available at www.insidesessions.com for $69.95 each. With each program, students receive a supplemental free CD-ROM that provides low-bandwidth users a broadband-quality online experience.
Additionally, InsideSessions will offer DVD and home video products, and plans to develop programming for television and ancillary distribution outlets. The company also intends to leverage its brand through contextual product sales, such as books and CDs.
InsideSesssions is working with UCLA Extension, which plans to make the course material available in its renowned programs.
“New distribution technologies have made it possible for us to give people unprecedented access to information and resources that otherwise would not be available to them,” InsideSessions’ president Lori Weintraub said. “InsideSessions offers exclusive interviews with best-selling authors, chart-topping artists and the most successful executives in music and publishing, as well as in-depth resources that cover everything from sample contracts to marked-up manuscripts to insider contact lists.”
InsideSessions’ first music program, “From Demo to Deal,” features insight and advice from multi-platinum selling recording artists including Elton John, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Shaggy, Enrique Iglesias, Fred Durst, Nelly and Godsmack, as well as top industry insiders including Sony Music chairman and CEO Tommy Mottola, Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine, producer Glen Ballard, songwriter Bernie Taupin and Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons.
Some of the topics discussed in the program include: what makes a good song, how to record and submit a demo, who does what at a record company, and how to get a music publishing and label deal.
“If you want to figure out how, when, where to get there, to do it, to figure out the industry. . . this is where you should be,” said Fred Durst from the band Limp Bizkit.
The first writing program, “Writing and Publishing: The Inside Story,” features top publishing executives and best-selling authors including Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Tom Clancy, Amy Tan, Nora Roberts, Alice Hoffman, Ken Follett, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sue Grafton, Nick Hornby, A. Scott Berg, David McCullough and many others. They provide insights and perspectives on inspiration and the writing process, manuscript submission guidelines, deal points in a publishing contract and how to work with editors and publishers.
“InsideSessions is a wonderful resource for aspiring writers — hours of literary shoptalk that are as practical as they are personal,” said A. Scott Berg, author of best-selling biographies on Samuel Goldwyn and Charles Lindbergh. “Anyone interested in either the art or the business of writing will find plenty of information. . . and maybe even some inspiration.”
InsideSessions programs also come with supplemental online materials including a list of industry contacts, informational articles, sample contracts, original book manuscripts with editors’ notes, and original sheet music with the songwriter’s comments.
Writing students have the rare opportunity to have a 7,500-word manuscript reviewed by Penguin Putnam’s editors. Universal Music Group’s A&R department will review students’ music demos. Students also receive a certificate of completion when they finish each program.
InsideSessions is promoting its programs in partnership with several popular online destinations including Microsoft’s Windows Media Group’s WindowsMedia.com, MP3.com and others. These promotions are a combination of direct marketing and online advertising.
InsideSessions is a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Penguin Putnam Inc. that combines education and entertainment to provide unique distance learning programs to people who aspire to break into the music or book publishing industries. Grounded in the belief that experience is the best teacher, InsideSessions’ programs open industry doors to let aspiring musicians and authors learn from the collective real-world experiences of today’s most influential artists and successful industry executives. These programs are available over the Internet and on CD-ROM. DVD and home video products will also be available. InsideSessions is based in Los Angeles.