Lauren Berkowitz, JD '95, MBA '96 isn't the frontwoman of a rock band, nor does she play the drums or pluck a banjo. She did dabble in the guitar as a young girl. "But put one in my hands now and I wouldn't know what to do with it!" she laughs. Yet, Berkowitz has still managed to lead a career on the cutting edge of both the music scene and the digital age.
In May, Berkowitz was appointed senior vice president of digital for EMI Music North America. EMI Group, one of the Big Four record companies (alongside Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner), as well as the world's largest independent music company, operates several record labels, including Blue Note, Capitol, and Virgin.
Although this San Francisco native claims to have no musical proclivities of her own, she did grow up in a musical family: her brother is a keyboardist and blues musician, her parents and grandmother all play the piano, and one of her uncles performs in a band.
But Berkowitz chose to immerse herself in the business and production side of the industry-something she always wanted to do. After earning a bachelor's degree in communications from Boston University, she headed out to Los Angeles, where she worked in a production house as a casting director, producing-and occasionally appearing in-music videos and commercials.
After four years in the field, however, Berkowitz wanted to be involved in the industry in a greater capacity and decided to pursue a career in entertainment law. Returning to the East Coast, she enrolled in Suffolk University Law School. After wrapping up her legal studies, she went on to earn an MBA from the Sawyer Business School. "I learned that to be successful in this field," she explains, "you need both a solid legal foundation and a sound financial background."
Going to Suffolk Law, she adds, not only gave her a chance to soak up all that a culturally rich city like Boston has to offer, but also connected her with scores of people who eventually became leaders in their fields and who remain some of her closest friends to date. Following Suffolk Law, Berkowitz went on to work for CDNOW, one of the first major online music companies. Her timing was impeccable. "When the Internet burst forth, I was very well situated," she notes. "I was in the right place at the right time."
As technology became increasingly globalized, and her own educational background remained an "important differentiator," her career eventually took her overseas, where she became immersed in Europe's music industry. In Berlin, Berkowitz led business development at Linkedwith GmbH, a wireless software company, and later moved to London, where she was vice president at Sony BMG Music Entertainment and led the company's European digital business development.
Now settled back into life in the United States, the New York City resident is finding her law degree especially invaluable to the tasks she faces. With music and technology becoming increasingly intertwined, she finds herself working in uncharted territory, constantly interpreting and crafting new types of agreements.
"The trick is you have to be fast enough not to miss anything," Berkowitz says. "Things happen so fast in this industry-things that haven't been done before." Meanwhile, she revels in a position that constantly places her on the cusp of the digital age. "It's a pretty cool time to have this kind of job," she says with a smile.
- Lauren Walser
ALUMNI PROFILESLance D. Clarke