IPR Student Turns Dream into Success

Korean rock band YB plays a surprise performance at SXSW

Even while she’s still in school, IPR student Jenna Rowe is making her dream of working in the music and entertainment business come true. A die-hard fan of Korean indie rock music, Jenna immersed herself in the culture and was offered a writing job for YAM, a new online media magazine.

She discovered Korean indie rock a few years ago and was taken by how energetic and fresh it sounded. She knew she had to learn everything about it. Soon she was a self-taught expert, writing her own blog, critiquing movies from India, reviewing albums from Japan and China and tweeting to the Korean indie community.

“If it’s East Asian, I’ve probably got my fingers it it somewhere,” Jenna says.

She got her fingers into IPR earlier this year after wavering a bit about returning to school. Her journey here began in Florida, where she found herself unemployed and unable to find a job. She moved to snowy Minnesota to apply to the University of Minnesota (because they have a Korean program), but she wasn’t able to make it work financially. She next looked at another music college in the Twin Cities, but says she “didn’t really feel a connection with them.” IPR, though, stuck in her mind.

Jenna with Korean indie band Hollow Jan

Her bad anxiety, she says, had caused her to drop out of school twice before.

“I just made up my mind that this is what I wanted to do, and I applied,” Jenna says. “But I didn’t tell anyone. My mom is my best friend and she didn’t even know. I just didn’t want any negativity around it—I wanted it to be my decision.”

Once she was accepted, she began to tell her friends and family that she was coming to IPR and everyone was really supportive. “My mom was really proud of me,” she says.

Right around the time she began considering IPR, she learned that her favorite Korean indie band, YB, was attending the South by Southwest Film and Music Festival.

“I thought, I have to see them,’” Jenna says. “So I asked my editor if we could try for free press passes. Neither of us knew if it would happen; and then it did! I was dancing around and freaking out. I knew I had to get there one way or another, so I saved money from Christmas and my tax returns. I made it happen.”

Jenna with Korean indie band Aziatix

When she returned from South by Southwest, she began classes at IPR in the music and entertainment business program. Even though she’s still writing for YAM and has 30 to 40 interviews with big Korean bands under her belt, she says she’s thrilled to be learning the skills to further help her succeed in the industry.

“I want to help Korean bands get out to the world,” Jenna says. “I want to help set up even small U.S. tours that would help them grown an audience.”

And we have no doubt she’ll make that happen, too.


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