MADE IN THE BAY: Zoo Labs offers unique program for aspiring musicians

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - There's a unique program for aspiring musicians called Zoo Labs.

During the program, musicians live in a building in West Oakland, and spend 10 days honing their craft.

The teachers there try to show musicians how to make a living off their art. Soon, the free program might be going global.

KTVU's Allie Rasmus caught up with 'Outer Vibe' at Zoo Labs. Their long term goal is to make it big - but in the meantime - they'd like to be able to just pay the bills.

To reach their goals they're taking part in the 10 day intensive program that will take them out of the studio and into the classroom.

"The models are changing. The models for the music business are changing dramatically," said Brandt Williams, Zoo Labs director of strategy.

In Zoo Lab's free, music residency program, artists learn all about the practical, financial side of the music business.

It covers costs, budgets, marketing and branding.

The instructors have marketing, design and business backgrounds, and the program brings in mentors from the music industry.

Watson says musicians don't have to be starving artists, either. The people at Zoo Labs believe there's a middle ground, and they want to help their musicians get there.

The Zoo Labs non-profit has graduated 11 bands in the past two years they've had the residency program.

To critics who say Zoo Labs' focus is too much on business, Watson says they're just giving musicians the tools they need to survive.

Now the program is looking at ways to expand.

They say they have some interest to bring the program to Europe.

Musicians in the program know they're part of something unique. One musician told KTVU, "There's nothing else like it in the world."

They hope they'll leave the residency with the tools and knowledge they need to accelerate their careers.