Universal Music Group, Penguin Putnam Launch InsideSessions

Posted on October 17, 2001

Penguin Putnam Inc. and Universal Music Group have launched InsideSessions, a joint venture that creates 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 based in Los Angeles.

``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 cost $69.95 each. With each program, students receive a CD-ROM. 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 develop and sell books and CDs in the future. InsideSesssions is working with UCLA Extension, which plans to make the course material available in its programs.

InsideSessions' first music program, ``From Demo to Deal,'' features advice from recording artists including Elton John, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Shaggy, Enrique Iglesias, Fred Durst, Nelly and Godsmack, as well as 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. The first writing program, ``Writing and Publishing: The Inside Story,'' features publishing executives and bestselling 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 others.

InsideSessions programs also come with supplemental online materials including a list of industry contacts, articles, sample contracts, original book manuscripts with editors' notes, and original sheet music with the songwriter's comments. Penguin Putnam's editors will review a manuscript from writing students and Universal Music Group's A&R department will review students' music demos.