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Student Stories

Academy Spotlight: Jane Byon '18

"Everyone is worth listening to and everything is worth trying." Senior Jane Byon has traveled the world and is now creating community at the local level with Shindig, a booking platform that brings local artists to intimate venues, like your living room! Here, she shares her thoughts on learning and exploration beyond the classroom....


What project are you working on right now?

I'm working on Shindig a gig-booking platform for budding artists and intimate venues (like homes, backyards, or studios) where local concertgoers directly impact who plays on their block. We won the Iovine Prize last year and are hoping to launch early next semester.

I worked briefly in A&R for an artist management company during sophomore year and saw firsthand how difficult it was to find new talent and how inefficient booking was. This led me to look further into the live music business and found that there was a lot of risk and burden for all parties involved, especially for starting musicians. Live music made up 50 per cent of total music spend in 2015, yet independent musicians often cannot access this revenue stream because of high barriers to entry like the need for promoters/agents, existence of pay-to-play cost structures, and the need for an existing fan base. I came up with a circular ecosystem that I thought could lower these barriers for musicians, allow owners and renters to profit from unused space, and give concertgoers more control and convenience. This ecosystem became Shindig.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you?
Marie Curie, Malala Yousafzai, Yves Behar, Ivan Poupyrev.



Is there an inspirational quote you live by?
"Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

Tell us a bit about your journey to the Academy. What were you looking for in an undergraduate program?
I knew I wanted to specialize in design of some sort - this is something I've known since I was five when drawing and puzzle games were the only things that could make me sit still. In high school, I quickly realized that I'm most fascinated by interdisciplinary work - I was making videos on sinusoidal equations in music for math class, and writing papers on the role of projection mapping, AR, and GIFs in fine art. So, when I stumbled upon a link to the Academy, there was no question that I would apply.

What advice would you give to a freshmen?
Don't take yourself too seriously - I know I wish I hadn't. It can lead to a fear of trying new things, a closed mind, and a lack of learning outside of class (and that's a lot of what you learn in college). Fail while you can without consequences and just explore. Everyone is worth listening to and everything is worth trying.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you? 
I was once an avid but unknown YouTuber signed to SyCo, Simon Cowell's company, as one of their (many) YouTube network channels. You can see me for a split second (talking in my bathroom for better audio) in the ad for the first YouTube Music Awards in 2013.

What is the one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?
People don't remember what you say or do, they only remember how you made them feel. My mum told me this freshman year and reminded me that nobody cares that you're right, if you're a jerk. It's a lesson I'm still learning!

Fun Facts

What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
$20 cash for emergencies, phone for Google Maps.

Favorite app or website?
Google Maps. I have no sense of direction and how long it takes to get somewhere.

Favorite class at USC and why?
Innovator's Forum because you get to hear from experts in so many diverse industries and get to immerse yourself in a new project in a new area every other week. It's really a defining experience for every cohort and you learn a lot about what interests you, what value you bring to a group, and what it's like to grapple with real-world problems.

Favorite way to de-stress:
Afternoon tea.

Guilty pleasure?
Retail therapy.

Thank you Jane!