• Red Bull Music Academy


    Red Bull Music Academy* http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/academy

    The Red Bull Music Academy is an annual event that music freaks eagerly look forward to. This academy of dance music takes place each year in a different country and offers places for 60 participants, divided into two groups over two terms of two weeks. The goal of the Academy is to provide both the participants and the ‘tutors’ with an experience and the participants with a worldwide network of musical friends.

    Each year, a number of music lovers are selected from a large pool of applicants from around the whole to take part in the Red Bull Music Academy. This is a unique platform where creative people from different cultures come together, exchange meaningful experiences, make contact and become inspired. After earlier editions in places like Cape Town and São Paulo, the Red Bull Music Academy held one in Rome: the crucible of European civilisation and a place where music, art and culture have determined the cityscape for ages.

    Many Ameri, one of the organisers, says: ‘We don’t see ourselves as possible managers of the talent that we might discover here. The only thing we do is to enable people to get to know a little about other cultures, so to give them a learning experience that will prove to be valuable both musically and in their personal life.’

    Red Bull’s marketing strategy is to ‘give wings’ to people and ideas, to help people realise their dreams and to create friends for life in scenes that have to do with extreme sports and entertainment, where it’s not easy for people to succeed even when they are highly passionate about what they do. So the Red Bull events in the field of sport and entertainment, which includes music, form a platform where the artists and athletes can realise their dreams.

    The Red Bull Music Academy is not a contest for DJs or producers with a winner at the end, or a programme of training where you leave the building with a diploma in your pocket at the end of the course. The Academy is a platform intended to bring together music lovers from around the world in an inspiring city, where they can exchange meaningful experiences, inspiration and can gain knowledge and refine their technical ‘skills’ as a DJ or producer. Every aspect of the DJ culture is covered, including music history, new software and technological developments and the business side of the music industry.

    The ‘tutors’ invited to address the students are sometimes well-known DJs or producers, but also often ‘forgotten heroes’ or people who have played a unique role in the course of music history from behind the scenes. Whoever they might be, they all have their own story to tell and can share their meaningful experiences in a relaxed personal setting with the participants, who in the evenings also get the chance to DJ in various clubs, sometimes even together with the musical heroes they met earlier that day.

    Basically anyone with a passion for music and an enthusiastic and open attitude can take part if he or she makes it through the selection procedure, which is nevertheless quite demanding. Besides the demo or mix CD that applicants have to submit, they also have to fill in a very extensive and thorough questionnaire with questions like: ‘When was the last time you cried?’ and ‘What would be the title of your autobiography?’ They are questions that most people have never thought about and that demand the most from whoever fills in the questionnaire. This ensures that every single person who is selected in the end is an interesting and pronounced character, varying from a DJ from Kazakhstan to a producer from New Zeeland or an MC from America. In 2004, techno and electro DJ Thijs Menting and hip-hop DJ and producer David Cohen de Lara were the participants from the Netherlands.

    What does Red Bull offer the participants?

    The Red Bull Music Academy is an inspiring experience for everyone. The atmosphere of all different nationalities, cultures and people together in characteristic and historic cities, with music as the ultimate means of communication, is something one will never forget. ‘It’s an experience of a lifetime’, one of the participants said proudly. ‘No matter who you are: participant, tutor or visiting journalist.’

    What does Red Bull offer its stakeholders and its target group?

    Contact is sought with the local scene in each city, and creative people who live and work in that city, including artists, DJs, producers, architects, designers and club owners, are involved in the organisation of the event as much as possible. ‘Months in advance, we go to talk with all those people in order to get to know and understand the local scene. They help us out with the location, give us input about the guest speakers and form an essential part of the team during the Academy. Without the locals¸ there’s no way it would work’, Many explains. ‘But we also always do something substantial for the host city. In Rome, for example, the building was transformed into a centre for music and culture—recognised by the city of Rome.

    What does this mean for the employees of Red Bull and for their culture?

    Mariska Woertman (Red Bull Nederland): ‘The people at Red Bull work together passionately on the events. Obviously it gives you a lot of satisfaction if you can collaborate with passionate athletes and artists. And that’s always good for coming up with new ideas. It’s about more than just selling cans of Red Bull: it’s about a lifestyle that you feel comfortable with and with which you can give other people satisfaction.’

    What is the business model and how is money being made?

    Many Ameri: ‘We hope that everyone will be a little bit inspired by the way the Academy works and what people have seen and heard here. If everyone takes that memory back to his or her own place in the world and makes music with that in mind, or organises parties or writes about music or whatever it is they do, then our mission will have been successful.’ Red Bull’s objective is to make friends for life and thus ambassadors for life. Participants don’t pay for the Academy, because Red Bull thinks they would take on an elitist attitude if that were the case. It should be clear that the strategy is paying off. Red Bull has already been around for about twenty years and is active primarily in the area of events. Besides the Music Academy, hundreds of events are organised worldwide in connection with extreme sports, from freestyle motocross during the Red Bull X-Fighters in Madrid to kite surfing during the Red Bull King of the Air on Maui, Hawaii. Red Bull is available worldwide and represented in 110 countries. In each of those countries, the same marketing strategy is used.

    Red Bull is not a philanthropic institution. Indeed, it is ultimately interested in selling more cans of Red Bull. It has a two-track policy as it were: the normal marketing mix on the one hand, with the goal of generating as much turnover as possible, and on the other hand offering platforms to ‘give wings’ to people and ideas and to help them realise their dreams.

    Questions and assignments

    (For more information, please read the article on the DVD)

    1. What do you think of Red Bull’s approach?

    Do you have the idea that Red Bull is achieving its objectives, as far as you can see? If so, what makes you think that? If not, please explain why not.

    1. In terms of Pine & Gilmore, would you consider this to be a staged experience, a meaningful experience or a transformation? Watch the entire interview on the DVD before you answer. Explain your answer.
    2. Does this qualify as an example of the first generation of the experience economy (see Pine & Gilmore’s principles of design)? Or of the second generation of the experience economy? Does experience co-creation take place, is there a dialogue, can the client help create the situation, is the organisation transparent, does the client have access to the company? See Prahalad and Ramaswamy’s criteria for co-creation.
    3. Can you apply Pine & Gilmore’s location hierarchy model (see Figure 6.3) to what Red Bull is doing?