Senior Spotlight: Kevin Johnson

Where are you from?

I am from Carmel, NY in Putnam County. It’s about 50 miles north of the city. I’ve lived in New York my whole life!

What is your background in music?

I grew up in a family that loved music. My uncle played the guitar and the banjo, much to my dismay since I hated bluegrass music. So to rebel from learning those instruments, I started playing cello when I was 10 years old and taught myself piano at the same time. I was the type of kid who practiced for 3 hours every single day, solely because I just loved music. I started auditioning for the All-County orchestras at a young age and then moved on to NYSSMA’s Area-All State Orchestra. My true love and background in music, however, was playing piano in the pit orchestra of my high school’s musical productions. It’s an entirely different world of music and I thrived in it.

Why did you decide to come to NYU?

Having grown up in New York my entire life, I knew I wanted to stay close and the city was right there. NYU was always the dream college for me and when I found out that there was a combination of music and business in NYU Steinhardt, it was just the perfect fit. I could study music theory and practice my instruments while I also got to study my second passion of marketing.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

Some of my favorite artists are: Bastille, Mumford & Sons, CHVRCHES, Layla, and to throw in a musical theatre composer(s), Kerrigan & Lowdermilk.

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

Not in particular, but I do love listening to musical theatre. I could listen to Broadway show-tunes all day long. I also love doing homework to orchestral soundtracks of films. Currently, The Theory of Everything’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Johann Johannsson is my one of my favorites.

What have been some of your favorite music business classes/professors in your time here?

As the undergraduate student assistant to the program, I have to say that every professor in the program is my favorite. In particular, I have thoroughly enjoyed Music Publishing with adjunct faculty member Jennifer Blakeman and Interactive, Internet, and Mobile Music with Professor Sam Howard-Spink. Of course, I can’t leave out Dr. Catherine Moore who has been a mentor to me through and through. One of my favorite projects to work on with Dr. Moore was the Global Music Trends Analysis independent study while I was studying abroad in London. We got to choose our topics as we were guided by Dr. Moore throughout the process. My topic was on global music festival marketing and an expansion report of C3 Presents in the United Kingdom.

You work under Dr. Moore as the student assistant. Tell us about your experience working for the Music Business department.

I was hired during my sophomore year as the assistant to the Undergraduate program. I absolutely love working in the office as every day is always something new. We are always brainstorming new ideas and changes for the program. I love thinking of new developments and collaborating with not only who I consider my professors, but also my colleagues and supervisors.




Have you had any really cool music-related moments in New York?

One time I was waiting for the L train and there was a violinist on the 8th Avenue-bound platform and a cellist on the Brooklyn-bound platform. They were so far away from each other but they were both playing a piece together across the platforms. It was one of the coolest things I have seen in street performance. By themselves, they sounded amazing and then together, if you listened carefully amidst the rumblings of the L and the uncomfortable voice the L train female announcer, it was even better.

What was your best Internship?

It is hard to choose. I have been very lucky to have had many amazing internships across the theatrical industry as that is my focus in the music and entertainment business—Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret, Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, The New York Musical Theatre Festival, and now at The Nederlander Organization. I do have to say that being at NYMF was an extremely life-changing experience. I felt like an essential part of the team at such a small company with big plans. I learned more than I ever did and got to do so much hands-on work with essential people in the Broadway industry.

What was one of your favorite projects at NYMF that you worked on at NYMF?

At NYMF, I had an array of very serious projects, but my favorite was the preparation of a live social media feed for the NYMF Gala. I got to live tweet, Facebook, and Instagram the entire night taking pictures of Broadway celebrities and covering every foot of the theater as fast as possible. It was an extremely hectic night, but an unbelievable success! My other project was a bit more confidential, but I can say that it did involve a lot of work with branding which helped me learn a lot more about a sector of marketing that I didn’t know much about.

What is your dream job?

Ultimately, I would love to leave this program with a job in digital marketing in the theatre industry. I want to move Broadway into the fast, constantly-changing tech industry. To be able to do that in any capacity would be great. Maybe,one day, working in London would be a great chance for a dream job.

When you took the Entrepreneur class your project focused on bringing the tech world into broadway. Tell us about your project.

During Entrepreneurship for the Music Industry last semester, I created a project that digitized the rush ticket policies of Broadway theaters’ box offices. Similar to that of WunWun and Uber, it allowed you to reserve rush tickets for last minute shows and acquire information about rush policies in one consolidated location. Since then, I’ve been able to develop my idea more and maybe one day I can bring it to life.

Are you leaving the program with different career aspirations than you had when you entered the program?

Absolutely. Entering this program, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew I loved marketing and I knew that I loved theatre. I thought the only path for that was to become a producer. However, from being exposed and seizing the opportunities I have been lucky to have, I can see myself and my career path in an entirely new way.

What is your advice for any incoming freshmen or transfer students to the program?

I took Producing Off-Broadway in the Tisch Open Arts program my sophomore year. It was in that class that I got some of the best advice that changed a lot. “Never say no, but know when to say no.” Try to seize every opportunity. No job is too small. Do not let things come to you, but instead, find every opportunity you can and go for it. When you start saying yes, things will start to change. But, know when it has become too much and that you need to breathe for a moment. Last piece of advice? Study abroad.


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