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Record Label Exec Teaches Students the Benefits of Digital Disruption

By Jacob Nelson

Gregg Latterman wants to teach his students to be as excited about digital disruption as he is.

The music industry veteran founded Aware Records in 1993, an early adopter of the Internet that eventually entered into an agreement with Columbia Records to combine major label backing with grassroots artist development. The combination proved successful — it helped build the careers of musicians like John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band and Liz Phair.

Now, the Internet plays an even larger role in the music business, and Latterman sees that as an opportunity for more creative work.

“If you want to figure out how to make a living today you’re able to do so,” he said, “The playing field is much more level.”

Latterman is teaching a course this quarter called NUvention Arts. Using case studies and guest speakers, Latterman hopes to demonstrate to his students that “success in the arts is a function of passion, work ethic, talent, and entrepreneurial drive,” according to the course syllabus.

As Latterman pointed out, the advent of YouTube and Facebook means anyone can make media and share it, which means it’s easier than ever to be an artist. The trick is cutting through the clutter to get your art to a broader audience.

“Being out there and engaging with your fans” is integral to that, Latterman explained.

“Everyone looks for it, but there is no magic, it’s really just quality engagement.”