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Majors: Music, Political Science
Activities: Poet Entertainment, Sachsen Society, Vocé, College Choir, Handbell Ensemble, World Percussion
What experiences and influences shaped your decision to study music? My first job ever was work study at Whittier College. I was working as an event coordinator for Poet Entertainment (then called "The Club") during my sophomore year. While contracting and working with various music groups, I began to have an interest in the music business. I wanted to learn more about how musicians are compensated, how music is made, and how performing rights organizations factor into the mix. Up until that point, I had proclaimed my major of music with an interest in pursuing the performance-side of the equation. While I still enjoy performing, I find it much more rewarding to help talented individuals share their work with the world.
Why is it important for one to gain a comprehensive knowledge of music if they want to be active on the business side of it? In order to give constructive feedback and understand the artist's direction, it is crucial to understand the mechanics of music - everything from orchestration to composition to recording. I find that in this business, I always tend to be ahead of the game because I have a level of understanding that most in the industry always aspire to, but few reach. The difference between taking out or adding an instrument to a track or using certain vocal techniques can mean the difference between a hit and a flop.
Were there other courses not directly associated with music or business that proved to be valuable, and how so? I found that my background in my second major, Political Science, was incredibly helpful. Since most of my music industry involvement has been in punk music and its subsidiary genres, my Political Science classes aid me in my understanding of the lyrics and the general message. My macroeconomics class also helped me tremendously in understanding consumer behavior and spending patterns. After all, when it all comes down to it, music business is just that: a business. In order to thrive and generate a profit, you have to achieve a level of sales beyond the cost of marketing and album production.
How did your education in this matter at Whittier prepare you for what you did/plan to do after you graduated? For my senior project, I decided to do an intense study of the music industry, specifically of independent rock record labels. After I chose this topic, I sought an internship that would coincide with my project focus. My goal was to supplement my project with real-life experience. At the conclusion of my internship, I had a wellspring of industry knowledge and contacts. During the refinement phase of my project, my professors were able to provide me with feedback on areas I should research further. While the project was challenging, I finished it feeling a sense of accomplishment and readiness - I was so eager to get started! Within a year, I landed a job with a small, independent record label based out of Queens, NY, and I founded my own event planning company, Diamond Fêtes, this month! My ultimate goal is to start my own record label and entertainment venue within the next six years.
What is your message to those that want to be active in the music industry and are curious about pursuing an education on this subject? DO IT! Music licensing, graphic design, and publicity are all HUGE components of the industry. Even if you might not be musically inclined per se, opportunities like these are great ways to be involved. Also, start early. Try to get your foot in the door as soon as possible, and start building your résumé with valuable experiences the moment you step into college. Trust me, it pays off! Don't forget that alumni are always willing to help, so if there is a particular company that you have an interest in, don't be afraid to contact us.
Finish this sentence: I’m a Poet for Life because... I joined a lifelong family when I pledged a society (go Sachsens!), and I became the person I am today because of the people I met and what I learned and accomplished during my Whittier College career. Every experience, every mind-bending lecture, every interaction inspired me and challenged me. I will always be grateful to Whittier for that. Being a Poet, in my mind, is a commitment to holding light, poetry, truth, peace, and the love of knowledge (Whittier's core values) close to your heart and always in your mind. I aspire to these virtues every day and know that I am a better person for it.
-Are you a graduate of the Department of Music and want to share your story? Contact the Office of Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.