Music production masterclass shows students a path to industry success
For a college student who plans to make a career in the music industry, learning to navigate a niche industry is almost as important as gaining technical skills and experience. That’s why the music production masterclass from the School of Media Arts and Studies is so transformative for participants.
The annual class takes MDIA students majoring in music production and recording industry (MPRI) to established studios and producers to learn first-hand from leading creatives. In December, the class went to Public Hi-Fi Studio in Austin, Texas, run by acclaimed producer Jim Eno. Students do hands-on work with sessions in the studio, which includes access to equipment and to the seasoned expertise of Eno and his staff.
“All the staff here are so excited and willing to tell you everything about every part of the process,” said senior MPRI major Grant Simpson. “It's such a friendly learning and communicative environment and it's been such a blast to be able to witness everything that goes on in the music industry.”
Eno, whose music industry credentials also include being the drummer for the rock band Spoon, has hosted the masterclass for six years.
“I am again very impressed with the caliber of the participants I continue to mentor in the program,” Eno said. “Every year the students have shown a strong grasp of technical and personal skills needed to be successful in the field of music production. I look forward to meeting the next group of quality students for year seven.”
This cohort of students got to work with a host of well-known Austin artists and musicians curated by Eno, including the NPR Podcast Song Confessional host and musician Walker Lukens, acclaimed singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez and pop trio KVN. All students get an engineering credit on the songs that are released from these course sessions.
Junior Nate Pommering said being in the studio made him feel “like a kid in a candy store,” but more importantly, it made the dream of a music career feel realistic.
“The experience in Austin showed me that making a career in this industry is very possible, obviously with hard work and all of that,” Pommering said. “But it just made it look more attainable than it usually does.”
Associate professor and MDIA school director Josh Antonuccio ensures that the masterclass program includes all the elements that are critical for success in the studio. In the semester leading up to the experience, the group discusses areas of studio recording, learns about digital audio workstation (DAW) usage, and is prepped with a breakdown of weekly and daily schedules.
“This class provides critical experiential education opportunities for our music production students to learn about working on sessions, using music technology, and developing songs through the tracking and mixing process.”
To maintain safety and ensure Covid protocols were met, all participants were up-to-date on their vaccinations, produced negative PCR tests in advance of the trip and negative antigen tests before entering the studio each day.
With that background knowledge at their disposal, the students are able to soak up the experience once they get to Austin.
“It has been the best experience I've had in college,” said senior Nathan Cain. “It felt like three years’ worth of learning packed into six days.”
Sophomore Mariana Stockman agreed.
“This was an experience that I will never forget, and I simply can’t believe that I got to be a part of it,” Stockman said. “In six days, I have never learned as much as I did in Public Hi-Fi studio. Every time I enter the studio or even my at-home studio, I will bring my new knowledge with me. I will forever be grateful that I was able to be a part of such an eye-opening and intense learning experience.”