One of the key outcomes of our Diversity & Inclusion work at !K7 was a wish amongst all staff to forge closer links with our local community. Our Berlin HQ is situated in Wedding, a vibrant and multicultural area, which also has some of the highest rates of inequality in the city. There was a general feeling amongst staff that we should do much more to engage with our local community and to learn from and share knowledge with our neighbors.
This is the background in which we reached out to local high school Ernst-Reuter-Schule to discuss developing a partnership. A group of !K7 staff were connected with the Class 8.31’s Music & Drama teacher. Together we discussed the various possibilities for working alongside the students and settled on a weekly programme of lessons and activities for the 2021-2022 school year with the aim to write, compose and produce music for release.
The idea was to show the students, aged 13 and 14, the creative process for music production as well as providing insight into marketing, production, release processes and the music industry in general.
It was important to everyone that the students had complete creative control of the project and we encouraged them to share their ideas and musical, as well as visual influences, as much as possible in the early stages. The students showed us their favorite tracks, music videos, social media accounts and artwork, primarily from German and American Rap and Pop.
The class visited the !K7 office and met with staff from different departments to talk about all parts of the business including distribution, marketing, production, IT and operations.
From a music background herself, class teacher Sibylle Polster, ran a series of lessons in the run up to the music production workshops focusing on songwriting. The students split into two groups based on their musical interests – one pop and one rap- and worked on the themes and ideas they would like to tackle in the music. Together they wrote lyrics ready to record vocals.
We also worked alongside Berlin producer Moritz Paul aka Leibnitz who did an amazing job running music production workshops that engaged the students and took into account their musical influences. In his sessions students experimented with hardware such as Ableton Push, as well as with samples and loops, and recorded the track vocals they wrote in their lessons. Moritz then produced and mastered the final tracks ready for release.
Once the tracks were finalized the next step was to learn about marketing and release planning. !K7 staff worked with the students to discuss musicians’ creative and visual identities, as well as the marketing elements of a release campaign including design, social media, music videos and press. The students discussed and shared ideas and came up with two unique artist identities for their two tracks. Pop group chose the artist name Red Roses of Blood and the rap group went for Light Squad. From there they designed artwork, worked on social media content and made music videos. They set up their own Instagram channels and organized a release party at the school, including designing flyers.
At !K7 we treated the tracks as with any of our releases, setting them up through our digital distribution channels and making sure the royalties and rights were in order so that the students legally owned their own music.
Overall the project has been a really positive and enriching experience for both !K7 and the students and school. A scheme like this is not without its challenges and there were some learning curves at times but we have managed what we set out to achieve and are really proud of the results.
Now that the school year is coming to an end we are looking to the future to consider how we develop the partnership moving forward. For the next project we are keen to engage a wider group of !K7 staff in order to bring more industry perspectives to the project but also to allow more staff the valuable experience of working alongside young people from the local community.
We are keen to share our experiences and any useful information with other companies who would like to set up a similar project in their own community. If that’s you, send us an email at info(at)k7.com and we will be happy to help.