“Pass the Aux”: Amplifying the Voices of Tomorrow’s Music Industry Innovators and Creative Thinkers

4 min read

A new wave of talent is here, and they want you to hear them. 

Pass the Aux” is the second-annual live presentation of capstone projects by students in the music industry program at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. A line-up of twenty-five students will perform, speak, showcase short films and make multimedia presentations to highlight their projects. The event is free and open to the public and takes place live, on stage in Lani Hall on April 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Please RSVP if you plan to attend.)

Capstone projects are a requirement for music industry program. Seniors enroll in the capstone course and develop projects that seek out their own particular passion, be it scholarship, entrepreneurship or artistry (and often a unique combination of all three). Projects range from recitals and performances of their own music and discussing marketing plans and social media to the quest for social justice in music. Students will showcase their projects in presentations that range from musical performances to short films and spoken presentations.

This year’s event will bring special guests from the music industry. Lee Anderson, executive vice president and managing executive of Wasserman Music, is the guest speaker. Anderson has provided executive direction for an agency that represents artists in and beyond dance and electronic music. This year’s musical guest is Michael J. Woodard, a singer currently signed with Unsub Records, founded by singer Katy Perry and a subsidiary of Capitol Records. 

Special guests Lee Anderson and Michael J. Woodard

Many of the projects catch the cutting edge of musical and scientific research. Capstone student Indie Adamich’s project will showcase a short film she created about the healing power of music. Her project draws from the well-documented connection between music and brain activity, and also from her own personal experience with her grandfather, who was comforted by music as an Alzheimer’s patient.

“People who suffer from dementia can forget the names of their children, but still remember the lyrics of a song they grew up listening to,” said Adamich. “The research on this is absolutely fascinating. I recently read Ivy Ross and Susan Magsamen’s book Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us, which was a big influence.”

Many of the capstone projects involve creating original art. This especially applies to the challenges of creating an EP release. Participants explore a multitude of styles, ranging from Tommy de Bourbon’s exploration of the pedal steel guitar in his eponymous EP to Mateo Murphy’s Gonzo-style eclecticism in his Sequential Choppage. Each capstone student has a unique style, and a unique voice to share.

“My style is R&B, but my music is more cinematic and expansive,” said Ashley Nicole Greene. Her EP, What Lovers Do, reflects years of vocal refinement and artistic development. “There’s a lot of elaborate vocal layering. I want my music to feel intense.”

Ashley Nicole Greene

The music industry depends on innovation, and students’ projects deliver. Senaido Dorado will present on virtual reality as a force in music creation, where the benefits and pitfalls can be simultaneously enthralling and weird. VR can utilize built-in programming to teach musical instruments and transform your living room into a front-row concert experience.

Projects focus on the business side of the music industry and simultaneously on social justice. Jennifer Alvarez explores ways to make ticket distribution and sales more equitable. Chris Hastings looks at how labor economics of digital scoring disadvantages composers, showcasing his own film score composition in the process. Gabriella Ruggiero takes a deep dive into why songwriters have been stifled by antitrust laws and stand at a disadvantage when negotiating contracts with record companies.

Passion is always a requirement. Ivy Adaoag has created a zine called “Off the Record,” a place for interviews, photography, and art. She spotlights underrepresented voices both on campus and in Los Angeles at large.  The project involves a collaborative team of writers and photographers, and live shows accompany zine releases.

From left to right: Ivy Adaoag, Jennifer Alvarez, and Chris Hastings

“It’s a passion-driven initiative,” said Adaoag. “I want to empower and uplift artists through storytelling.”

These are just a few of the projects in what promises to be a unique opportunity to see and hear the future of the music industry.

“Pass the Aux” will take place on Saturday, April 20, 2024 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lani Hall at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Visit the students’ web page to RSVP and for more information. The event will also be livestreamed.