Primary Wave Music Collaboration

Watch the video for Tyler Christian’s cover of Culture Club’s Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

Watch the video for AIIDA’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide

In mid-May 2020, Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) founder and director Jeff Dorenfeld received a message from Robert Dippold, partner and president of digital strategy at Primary Wave Music, regarding an idea for an innovative project in which BPMI students would work with Primary Wave to create covers of some of their iconic copyrights and have the opportunity to discuss the original song and new creative processes with the original songwriters themselves. 

Watch the video for Jobi Riccio's cover of Free's 'All Right Now,' produced and arranged by Riccio and Jesse Timm.

The partnership started amid festival cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and came at a most favorable time because of that. Over a two-year period, between 2020 and 2022, students worked with their artist-peers to create modern interpretations and videos of some of Primary Wave's most iconic hits, including "All Right Now" (Free), "Why Can't We Be Friends" (WAR), "Three Little Birds" (Bob Marley), "This Christmas" (Donny Hathaway), “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac), and “Do You Really Want T=to Hurt Me” (Culture Club). These videos have cumulatively garnered over 2 million views.

Watch Zabrina Hay featuring BADGÜD cover WAR's 'Why Can't We Be Friends?,' produced and arranged by Justin Pirocchi.

Through these projects, students gained experience in project management; A&R; recording and producing both audio and video; working with artists, writers, engineers, and executives; and more, under the guidance of Morgan Milardo. Specifically, students:

  • scouted and secured talent including instrumentalists, vocalists, rappers, producers, arrangers, audio engineers, and video producers;
  • managed technical specs including all film and audio recording details;
  • provided creative direction on both music and video;
  • managed all outreach and communication with personnel throughout the duration of the project;
  • scheduled meetings across varying time zones around the globe;
  • facilitated all contracts, paperwork, and credits; and
  • incorporated feedback from Primary Wave executives and the original songwriters in project revisions.



“The students at Berklee never cease to amaze me, not only with their creativity but by always pushing boundaries and taking risks with their interpretations of such classic and staple songs that are ingrained in popular music culture,” —Robert Dippold, Partner and President of Digital Strategy, Primary Wave Music

“It's interesting to hear this interpretation of this song, as we have just reinterpreted this ourselves. For me personally, I'm always excited when someone takes the song and does something else with it. I've already done the original, so I don’t need another version of it, trying to sound like me. This version of the song is right up my street. When I think about the climate in the early '80s, when I wrote this song with Culture Club, attitudes to sexuality were different, and people were able to get away with more in terms of what they said about you and what they felt about you, and it's changed now, so hearing this song, interpreted from a new generation is exciting, as the message is still the same.”—Boy George, Original Songwriter and Vocalist, Culture Club, “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”

“Since the spring of 2020, when Jeff Dorenfeld, founder and director of BPMI, and Rob Dippold first developed this project, we've seen outstanding growth in our students' abilities to collaborate creatively and logistically. ‘Landslide’ is such an iconic piece of music; we were honored to be given the opportunity to reimagine it with a modern spin. It has been incredibly rewarding to guide students to a place where they are now confidently stepping out of their comfort zones to create content at this level.”—Morgan Milardo, managing director, BPMI

“I’m really grateful to have been part of this amazing project, and it ended up getting very personal for me. The lyrics really spoke to my family and me, as we were going through the process of losing a loved one and adapting to such a huge 'landslide' in our lives. I believe the song will remain a classic because of its unique soul, no matter how anyone chooses to dress it.”—AIIDA, BPMI Artist 2022, on "Landslide"

“The best parts of this experience for me were interacting with the students on Zoom and learning from them about this new era. And while we are in a new era, they still bridged the gap between what the song was written for back then and how it still applies today.”—Lonnie Jordan, Keyboards and Vocals, WAR

“I was hoping that the Berklee students would take the song and adapt it for today, and that is exactly what they achieved—and they did it very well."—Jerry Goldstein, Original Producer and Songwriter, "Why Can't We Be Friends?," War

“Wow...Brilliant rendition. The mark of a good song is when it is on rewind in your mind, and Jobi and Jesse’s version of 'All Right Now' does that! After 50 years, so many awards, accolades, and the millions of airplays that 'All Right Now' has had, you have done the song more than justice. You have breathed new life into it. Amazing. Thank you.”—Paul Rodgers, Original Songwriter and Vocalist, "All Right Now," Free

"Getting to work with Berklee students and alumni was an absolute pleasure, and having oversight from legends like Lonnie Jordan and Jerry Goldstein is an invaluable experience. Producing and arranging a reimagined version of an immortal track with timeless themes like 'Why Can't We Be Friends?' was a huge honor for me."—Justin Pirocchi, Producer and Arranger, "Why Can't We Be Friends?," Zabrina Hay Featuring BADGÜD

"Personally, I’ve grown exponentially as a student and professional, having led and coordinated all facets of the production of 'Why Can’t We Be Friends?,' together with BPMI’s brilliant student team, and now my friends for life! This hands-on experience allowed me to really understand the nuts and bolts of the music industry, and I am very grateful for it."—Marcella Nahas, BPMI Class of 2020

“Even though this live performance class was different from what a normal year would be due to the pandemic, my classmates and I got the opportunity to work with artists to make new, reimagined versions of iconic songs for Primary Wave Music. This project gave us the opportunity to develop skills in project management, supervision, and creative direction, thanks to BPMI.”—James McKernan, BPMI Class of 2020

"With all of the students and our artists at home, I thought this could be a unique education experience. Our songwriters met the students on Zoom and discussed the music business and creative process with them. This collaboration has created a one-of-a-kind experience for the students and brought our experts beyond the studio and into the classroom for an incredible summer.”—Robert Dippold, Partner and President of Digital Strategy, Primary Wave Music