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    Berklee College of Music becomes a YouTube star

    Berklee College of Music
    A sample blues guitar lesson promotes Berklee College of Music’s online instruction offerings.

    Berklee College of Music’s pioneering use of online video to attract students from around the globe has earned an unusual distinction from Internet search giant Google Inc., which will make a special effort to turn the Boston school into a YouTube star.

    On Monday, Google - which owns YouTube - named Berklee as one of nine “YouTube ambassadors,’’ organizations that have been particularly effective at using the site to reach new customers.

    “What it really comes down to is, they are essentially a small business that has picked out a niche,’’ said Baljeet Singh, group product manager for YouTube. “When you watch the videos, you understand what they are selling.’’


    Berklee will receive prominent billing on YouTube’s home page - a space usually reserved for paying advertisers - and personal attention from the Web gurus at Google, who flew school representatives to its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters this month for a seminar on how to better use YouTube.

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    Berklee’s YouTube videos have been viewed 16.5 million times since 2006, when it began using the website to recruit students. The school’s YouTube channel is the fifth-most-viewed among about 400 colleges and universities from the United States and Canada. It is surpassed locally by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which operates the third-most-viewed education channel on the site, offering video physics lectures and microeconomics classes.

    YouTube draws about 800 million visitors a month and is boosting its outreach to advertisers and small businesses in an effort to remake the site. It is spending $100 million to create content, including its own music video and sports channels.

    According to the online research firm eMarketer Inc. in New York, spending on online video ads is expected to jump 55 percent to $3.1 billion this year. By contrast, $60 billion was spent on TV advertising last year.

    Berklee is the only school to be called out by YouTube in its first-ever ambassador program. The other eight honorees include such businesses as a Louisiana barbecue grill maker and a Texas knitting store.

    Mike Williams (right), Berkleemusic course author, teaches a blues guitar lesson on Berklee’s YouTube channel.


    Most of what Berklee posts is produced for marketing. The 260 videos the school has on YouTube have become an important tool to promote its Web extension school,, started in 2002. The online school, which has taught 30,000 students from 135 countries in the past decade, said at least 500 students have enrolled after seeing videos on YouTube.

    “When we started growing the school, online education was in its infancy and online music education was unheard of, and a lot of people scoffed at it at the time,’’ said Pat Raymond, senior marketing manager for

    But as music technology has advanced, making it easier to use the Web to record and share music, the school began to grow, and budding musicians and professional performers began signing up to take an online course in Music Theory 101, or earn a certificate in drumming.

    “The physical school has limitations,’’ said Milan Kovacev, Berkleemusic’s director of interactive marketing. “Why wouldn’t we take Berklee’s curriculum and enable anyone in this world to get an education at Berklee?’’

    Antero Martin is one of the far-flung students. Last fall, to help advance his career, the 37-year-old music executive signed up for a marketing strategies class with a professor sitting 3,000 miles away.


    “I live in Los Angeles and Berklee is in Boston,’’ Martin said, “so technology is what makes this learning experience possible.’’

    More information:

    Berklee has the 5th-most-viewed YouTube education site. It has 260
    videos on the site. 4 billion YouTube videos are viewed every day. Berklee’s videos have been viewed 16.5 million times.

    Michael B. Farrell can be reached at