Where are you from?
Really I’m from a lot of places. I was born in Chicago, IL. I moved to Northern California at the age of 3, at 4 I moved to Rhode Island, and at 5 I moved to Westchester County, NY. At 11 I moved back to Northern CA (Silicon Valley) and stayed there until I graduated high school. I also spent my Freshman year in Florence, Italy. So, typically I tell people I’m from CA just because I lived there the longest and the most recently.
What is your background in music?
I’ve been singing since 3rd grade and that’s pretty much how it started. I had some stints in musical theater, I played the piano for about 5 years, but really for me it’s about the singing. Once I hit high school I started taking singing more seriously and began private voice lessons on top of choir. By my junior year I was auditioning for bigger choirs and by my senior year I was a singer in the CA Coastal Region Honor Choir, a soloist in the CA State Honor Choir, and a soloist in the ACDA National Honor Choir under Tim Sharp. Today I sing for a professional volunteer choir, the Canticum Novum Singers (not affiliated with NYU) under the direction of Harold Rosenbaum and I still take private voice lessons.
Why did you decide to come to NYU?
I’ve always wanted to live in New York City, ever since I had moved to New York with my family—we would visit the city every couple of weekends and even at a young age I fell in love. Over in CA, we’re not too familiar with many of the east coast schools but I knew about NYU from my acting friends. I, of course, begged my parents to make a visit and when I saw Washington Square Park and the campus and the surrounding city I knew I wanted to go. It was my first choice school even compared to higher ranking universities so as soon as I was accepted I enrolled.
Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
I’m not one of those people who can grab a bunch of names out of the air and swear that they’re truly my favorite artists. I go through phases with my music and I tend to like everything. I guess the artists that have stuck with me the longest are bands like Kasabian, I like some of Muse’s older stuff, The Beatles (of course), Cream, pretty much anything our parents grew up listening to I ended up listening to, so classic rock as a genre sticks with me and has a lot of good memories associated with it. I’ve started getting into the electronic genres too, and I like Thomas Gold a lot right now, but I’m all over the place with this type of music so I can’t really say I have one favorite artist.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Musical guilty pleasures? I’m guessing this is the stuff we don’t really want the world knowing about…
I sometimes listen to metal… and also Enya.
What have been some of your favorite music business classes/professors in your time here?
I don’t really like playing favorites and I thoroughly enjoyed every professor that I came into contact with in this program. There are some serious industry professionals that I get to see and work with on a weekly basis and that sometimes blows my mind. I think my favorite classes so far are Strategic Music and Branding (taught by Josh Rabinowitz), Music Publishing (Jennifer Blakeman), and Village Music (Larry Miller). SMB was just an awesome class, it gave me a side of the industry that I hadn’t thought about before and actually landed me my first internship. I’ve learned so much in Music Publishing and I’ve actually been able to apply some of what I’ve learned at work which is always really cool to do. In Village Music I think Prof. Miller is doing a good job opening us up to the business side of the industry which, though we learn a lot about the industry in this program and a lot about business in this program, it’s refreshing to see how everything goes hand in hand. But this program isn’t limited to these three professors and classes, everyone I’ve had a class with has opened my mind to something and all of the professors are pretty awesome.
Have you had any really cool music-related moments in New York?
I think one of the coolest music-related moments I had in NY was when I was serenaded by the band Locksley. I had only just started hearing about them when they came into town and a girlfriend and I went to the show and managed to get right up front against the stage. Halfway through one of the songs the lead singer points right at me and we had semi-awkward eye contact while he sang some sappy chorus. It was really fun; I got to meet them after the show and they all seemed like really great guys.
What was your best internship?
I’ve only had three internships and they were vastly different from each other so it’s hard to pick a favorite or which one was “the best”; I think it’s easier if I just talk about why each one was so awesome and what they all taught me. My first internship was at a venture capital tech consulting firm, Alteon Capital, where I was essentially an analyst. It was sometimes a grind, but I learned so much about research, excel, how to write professional emails (a skill that doesn’t always come naturally) and reaching deadlines in a work environment.
My second internship was at Cornerstone, a creative marketing agency that also runs labels for some major brands. Walking away from this internship, I think I learned how to have a decent phone conversation (it’s hard not to be awkward) and to deal with all sorts of people. I ended up working in strategic marketing and helped out with Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound and Bushmills’ ad campaign with Bon Iver (with a little side work on Converse’s Rubber Tracks and Qream’s campaign). Every now and then I would send a handwritten thank you letter to Justin Vernon and his family, the concept of which was neat (though he had no idea it was me, of course). I think the coolest experience I had in this internship was when I had to deliver some props to the photography studio Jack’s Studio. The place was like something out of a movie: there were models everywhere, music was blasting, it was completely white inside with some purple orchids here and there, there was a bar in the studio and I (lamely) got some artisan bottled water. The photographers actually asked my opinion on how I thought the props should be placed (the photos were intended for a Bushmills ad) and I was the only one there from my company so I got to give some input. Of course the entire internship wasn’t all glamor and loud music but some of the experiences were really cool.
My third and final internship was with SiriusXM, and they ended up hiring me at its completion. I worked in a strange branch of business development that is essentially a strategy branch for streaming. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this is a public company, I can’t say much more than that. It was an amazing internship and I would recommend anyone trying to work here, you can find some helpful intern reviews about many different positions in the company
What is the story behind your job at SiriusXM?
I started off as an intern and I worked really, really hard. That, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I showed initiative and independent thinking, and I have a great relationship with the music programmers as well as the engineers, so they asked to keep me on after my internship ended.
What is your dream job?
My dream job will take me years and years to accomplish, and I know that I have to start slowly and modestly, but I think one day I would like to work on the executive level at a major media company. I know it’s hard work, and I have no intention of “running the show” right now—I have so many things to still learn and experience—but I do eventually want to make my way there.
Are you leaving the program with different career aspirations than you had when you entered the program?
When I entered the program I had more of an international slant to my direction—I wanted to do something that allowed an easier collaboration between the US and foreign artists. When I started applying to internships there wasn’t exactly an “international collaboration department” in any company (I did consider going into international departments at major labels, but there was really no mixing between the US and foreign acts and that’s what I wanted to do), so I decided that business development was almost as good and here I am. Now I definitely have a different set of aspirations; working in corporate development has given me a better sense of who I am and how I work and I’m looking more in the direction of major media companies than international music.
What would be your advice to incoming and transfer students?
Work hard, pay attention, and don’t forget that your professors are there to help you inside and out of the classroom; you have their networks at your disposal, so ask them for help. I was a transfer student and I think the hardest thing was fitting everything in so I could graduate on time. Thanks to that, my other piece of advice would be that you really need to plan ahead; things change but it’s always good to have a plan so that you’re working towards something.