Carnegie Mellon Press Release: October 10, 2003
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Press Release

Contact:
Eric C. Sloss
412-268-5765

For immediate release:
October 10, 2003

Carnegie Mellon: Home of Robots, Cyber-Sleuths, Engineers, Enters the Field of Hip-Hop Music

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University, known around the world for cutting-edge science and information technology, is making its foray into hip-hop music production.

Through the Arts Greenhouse, a project of the university's Center for the Arts in Society, talented musicians in the Pittsburgh region will be able to record their music in a state-of-the-art recording studio at Carnegie Mellon's School of Music. The program will enable selected musicians to avoid the enormous costs that prevent new artists from obtaining the professional recordings needed to break into the business. The program will allow the School of Music, a conservatory, to embrace new musical genres in an effort to promote promising local artists.

As part of the Arts Greenhouse, MBA students from the university's business school will market and promote the artists and their music, and gain real-world business experience for themselves and the artists. "This was a great opportunity to offer our marketing students the chance to apply the skills they have learned," said Ajay Kalra, associate professor of marketing. "At the same time, they have been able to give these young artists the professional business boost they needed once they had their recording in hand."

Unknown Prose, the hip-hop duo of Justin "Bud" Bishop, a psychology major at Carnegie Mellon, and Jason Bowen, a.k.a. J-Sizz, a drama major at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is the first group to benefit from the Arts Greenhouse. They recorded a demonstration CD in Carnegie Mellon's recording studio, which became the basis of a marketing case study for an MBA class instructed by Kalra.

The MBA students conducted an extensive marketing analysis to define the group's commercial potential. In comparison to successful hip-hop acts such as 50 Cent and Eminem, the students concluded that the work of Unknown Prose is creative and marketable, but the duo lacks big marketing and production budgets. The business school marketing class also collaborated with 21 Productions, a Web company founded by Alex Geis, a senior at Carnegie Mellon, to produce a Web site and video montages of the class in production. During the spring semester, business students, led by business school faculty member Vishal Singh, will continue to work on marketing the Unknown Prose CD, as well as market a newly selected hip-hop group.

The Arts Greenhouse has received $7,000 in seed money from The Sprout Fund. This is the first award that the Center for the Arts in Society has received from a local agency to support one of its community projects.

Justin "Bud" Bishop from Unknown Prose and local hip-hop artists B-Tree and Liberation's Chentis Pettigrew will conduct the Hip-Hop Education Series, a community outreach component of the Arts Greenhouse. The series will conduct classes that will be held throughout the Pittsburgh community teaching local youth and young adults the history of hip-hop, poetry, rhyming, language and community involvement. Classes will be held in East Liberty, Homestead and the Hill District. The three-month curriculum will work with young adults throughout the fall. The Hip Hop Education series is supported by a financial contribution from Carnegie Mellon's Student Services office.

The aim of the program is to find students that excel in hip-hop and send them through the cycle of the Arts Greenhouse. Students will record in the Carnegie Mellon School of Music studio and have their music marketed by the university's business students. Sales from the CDs are projected to sustain this unique interdisciplinary collaboration between the Carnegie Mellon School of Music, the business school and the Center for the Arts in Society.

The Center for the Arts in Society, launched in 2000, is a multidisciplinary research and education center that brings together scholars who are interested in the study of culture and society, and the history and production of the arts. The center is a collaboration between the College of Fine Arts and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

To hear a sample of Unknown Prose's music, go to the Web at www.unknownprose.com. For more information on the Center for the Arts in Society's Arts Greenhouse or for a video montage of the project, contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765.

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