It’s not often that you get to work on a project that becomes a global phenomenon, let alone work on a project with some of your closest friends. I was fortunate enough to do both. If you let me indulge briefly. The Pharrell Williams project means more to me than I probably let on. The opportunity to work Tuniversity really came out of nowhere. Fresh out of grad school, no career prospects, in debt, and the only thing I had going for me was a supportive girlfriend and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).
At this point in my life the latter two were my world. The problem was, BJJ is not a cheap hobby. Everything about the art is expensive and as you can imagine, not many people without a job can afford it.
It was a random class, like many other before it, and I was training with two of my teammates. One of which I barely knew and the other I was close with. Somehow the topic came up that I was struggling to find work and would have to move home immediately. The training partner I barely knew offered me a job that I was nowhere near qualified for. That man was Kiko Doran – co-author and master of many hats.
A little later I found myself working on a project supported by Apple, highlighting a global superstar in Pharrell, and working side-by-side with the highly talented guitarist Brent Paschke. To say I am grateful is an understatement. But that’s enough gushing, back to the purpose of this case study.
Redefining Music Education with Pharrell Williams’ Happy:
Public school music education in most of the world is nary a blip on the radar. It is notoriously underfunded and many schools removed music programs entirely. It’s the reason behind celebrity driven campaigns like Save The Arts. So when a 10-time Grammy-winning producer and recording artist attributes his success to his public school music education, people listen.
In order to combat shrinking budgets and reinvigorate music education, Pharrell, along with Brent and Kiko, launched Tuniversity – a multimedia technology company aiming to take the education system by storm. By working with current artists and featuring today’s top hits, they’re doing just that. Tuniversity’s first release is based on “Happy,” the blockbuster song that won Pharrell best-selling honors, two Grammys, and an Oscar.
The Content Group was hired to offer editorial suggestions, rewrite portions of the book, help create a pitch to Apple, and produce three blog posts for the accompanying website.
Rolling Out Goals:
When it comes to a project the size of “Learn Pharrell Williams’ Happy” – one that spans multiple iterations, takes years to complete, and is released in 51 countries – everything in the book needs to be as close to flawless as possible. Having worked on the book since alpha, it’s imperative that we meet our client’s goals and grow to match the scope of the work. Carefully planned meetings occurred weekly to ensure that we understood everything that needed to be accomplished.
To ensure quality of work and to match the project’s mission, we flew to Los Angeles to work side-by-side with the authors. We took the project literally one page at a time.
Since our background isn’t in music we offered a very unique take on industry jargon and user readability. Whereas the authors approached everything with a musical lens, as expected, we edited word choice and structured sentences in such a way that non-musically inclined consumers could understand and enjoy the work. It was our primary goal in the role of copywriter and editor and it’s one we handled deftly.
Blogging for All:
When we write posts for our own blog, we understand that they have a limited reach – a couple hundred or maybe a thousand viewers if we’re lucky. When we wrote blog posts for Tuniversity, we went into it knowing that our reach was magnified tenfold. The posts needed to be filled with useful information, accessible by anyone regardless of musical knowhow, and digestible. In other words, we couldn’t be as long winded as we are for our own posts.
While some people may fear writing on subjects they don’t quite understand, we thrive on it. There’s something about writing with complete authority on a topic you only have cursory knowledge of that compels us to produce some of our greatest work. Music education proved to be such a topic.
If you want to support the arts and purchase “Learn Pharrell Williams’ Happy” on iBooks, please do so here. If you’re looking to collaborate on a book like we did with Pharrell Williams’ Happy, let us know by filling out the form on our contact page.
*All images taken from the “Learn Pharrell Williams’ Happy” iBook or Tuniversity’s website.