Student clubs are a vibrant part of student life at HBS. With more than 70 different options to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Except, sometimes, there’s not. When Jeff Zeller and Sofia Pietrella arrived at HBS, they felt there was a lack of musical presence on campus – and they wanted to do something about it. 

After thinking about ways they could bring more music to HBS, they decided that setting up an official student club was the best option. They collaborated closely with Student Academic Services to get The Sound Society off the ground, completed their leadership team, and the club now boasts over 150 members. 

What is the mission of Sound Society?

Our mission is simple: enhance the HBS experience through music. Our founding team felt that this could be done in three primary ways.  

One: give students more opportunities to perform and collaborate. HBS has so many talented musicians and singers, and Sound Society can serve as a communal gathering place for these musicians to get together and share their gift with the HBS community.  

Two: experience live music together with other students. People love going to concerts, but it can sometimes be tough to recruit people to go to shows if your friends don’t share the exact same music tastes. Sound Society, however, can help students organize trips to shows whether it’s a local gig at The Sinclair all the way to the Coachella music festival in California.  

Three: provide gatherings where students can share the music they love with others. Not everyone is musically talented, but many people love listening and discovering good music. Sound Society has provided opportunities for musical sharing and consumption throughout the year, whether it’s as a part of public HBS events or small group listening sessions on campus.

What activities do you organize? 

Our activities are mostly social in nature (I like to think of it as a social club for the entire school), but we have also tried to create a bridge to the music industry by hosting many Speaker Series events throughout the year.  In our first year, we had some pretty big names on campus — artists like The Chainsmokers and Alison Wonderland. We spoke with them about the business of being a musician, how digital technology was impacting how they make money and communicate with fans, how they choose which brands to partner with, etc.  

We also hosted several sessions with people that work in the music industry — artist managers, booking agents, record label executives, etc. These sessions were more geared towards students that may want to work in the business, but I think the lessons learned can be applied to many different industries.

I am also very proud of some more “cultural” events that we planned this year. One was a performance of Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 and another was a Beethoven performance in conjunction with the Handel and Hayden Society. Both shows were graciously hosted by the Boston Symphony Orchestra organization. These were some of our best attended events this year, and clearly showed that both students and the Boston music community at large enjoy coming together for these special occasions.

We also provided DJ services at some of the biggest events this year: Color Block Party, Casino Night, EC Gala, various club parties, 1-year Reunion, and the list goes on. For performers, we helped coordinate events like Spangler Night Live and Pub Night @ The Grille. Students self-organized for dozens of concerts this year (too many to keep track), and in April we have several groups of students traveling to Coachella.

Finally, we co-hosted an amazing event with the Entertainment & Media Club that featured a performance by the band COLDCALL. We sold several hundred tickets to their performance at Middle East Downstairs, and it was the highlight of first semester. Just the next week we helped organize a Battle of the Bands event with MIT Sloan that will again feature COLDCALL against MIT’s band “The Rolling Sloans.”  This event is particularly special because it is co-sponsored with the Student Association and is a charity event with proceeds going to cancer research.

What would the club like prospective students to know?

For one thing, HBS is a place that embraces music!  It’s not a traditional industry to work in after graduation, but that doesn’t mean that music isn’t important to many people on campus. It touches all of our lives in different ways, and it can serve as a major connection point between students and friends.  Also, I would stress that Sound Society can be whatever the students want it to be — the club was created for the entire community, not just the people in the club. The goals and events of the club will evolve over time as the makeup of the student body evolves, and I can’t wait to see what future years’ leadership does with the club.