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Pass the Aux event will shine spotlight on graduating students’ capstone projects

An illustrated graduation cap with an auxillary cable tassel wraps around Schoenberg Hall. The Herb Alpert School of Music’s Pass the Aux capstone event will take place Saturday. (Photo by Jeremy Chen/Photo editor. Photo illustration by Emily Hu/Daily Bruin)

“Pass the Aux”

Lani Hall

April 20

9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

By Davis Hoffman

April 18, 2024 1:42 p.m.

This post was updated April 18 at 7:42 p.m.

From AI to LPs, UCLA musicology and music industry students present their final performances.

The Herb Alpert School of Music’s second annual Pass the Aux event will be held Saturday and aims to provide graduating music industry and musicology students a platform to present their capstone projects. The showcase-style event will allow students to connect with not only the work of their peers, but with industry professionals as well, including special guests Wasserman Music executive vice president and managing executive Lee Anderson and singer-songwriter Michael J. Woodard.

Though the showcase has been time consuming, fourth-year music history and industry student Scarlett Long said it has ultimately been an effective way to highlight the broad and often diverse student focuses emerging from the program.

“Students are also able to do research,” Long said. “They’re able to look into different concepts that revolve around music but maybe integrate other ideas. We have someone doing music and math, with people doing music and AI and technology. It’s really an open-ended class that gives us a lot of opportunities to explore.”

Long said she chose to organize a music industry career fair for her capstone project. The fair brought together a range of guests, featuring industry executives from companies such as Live Nation and BMI, as well as on-campus student groups, Long said. Hoping to highlight postgraduation industry opportunities for music and nonmusic students alike, Long said the idea came to her after attending a UCLA career fair and seeing a lack of employers from the music and entertainment industries.

“That was something that really shocked me because I do understand that UCLA is a research-centered facility, and it’s very STEM-oriented, but our music program is so critical to LA,” Long said. “I just feel like it’s such a good opportunity to use what’s around us.”

[Related: Dave Grohl named 2024 UCLA Spring Sing George and Ira Gershwin Award winner]

The career fair was advertised as open to all UCLA students regardless of school, Long said, which reflects the many career opportunities available in the music industry for nonmusic students. According to Long, not many students are made aware of what kinds of jobs and positions are in the music business, so she found it important that graduating students are not only able to find specific career paths but were simply made aware of what’s possible in the field.

For others, their projects served as an opportunity to investigate prevalent issues in the music industry. Fourth-year music history and industry student Jennifer Alvarez decided to investigate ticket distribution in the music industry. The research paper examines specific issues with contemporary ticket distribution, she said, such as presale access, bots and scalpers, and resale frenzy. She became interested in this topic in recent years after noticing how increasingly difficult it’s become to purchase tickets, with issues such as restricted access and website crashes plaguing the experience, she said.

“I feel this is an issue that not only affects the artists but affects their fans and everyone who works to put together these shows for them,” Alvarez said. “I thought it was a really crucial issue and a really interesting one to focus on for my project.”

For Alvarez, the project was also a way to explore her passions beyond the music industry. Through taking the forensic musicology course, Alvarez said she learned more about the legal aspects of music such as copyright law. She said the class also led her to realize that she had an interest in one day practicing law, something that the capstone project would allow her to explore in tandem with music culture itself.

[Related: Road to Royce: Student bands face off for chance to perform at historic Royce Hall]

Yet many students felt that the showcase served as a perfect opportunity to do what they always knew they wanted to – perform music. For fourth-year music history and industry student Eduardo Cantu Huante, creating an EP was a natural choice. After spending the past two years immersing himself in both the industrial and artistic side of his education, he said he hopes to pursue his own artistry rather than focus on seeking employment. The five-track “Bluest of Nights” EP was finally realized with the help of the School of Music’s studios and equipment, Cantu Huante said.

“It was like in those rock ‘n’ roll biopics, where the main characters go into the studio for the first time,” Cantu Huante said. “You kind of feel a sense of responsibility, like, ‘OK, now I’m just not in a bedroom recording. Now I really need to pay attention to my singing and everything.’”

Drawing inspiration from artists such as Jimi Hendrix and The Smiths, the debut EP features a slew of styles, ranging from slow guitar songs and indie pop to intense, 90s-inspired punk songs, he said. As a debut project, his variation in genre gives him a palette to explore going forward, Cantu Huante said. Though the project was oftentimes demanding, he said he has inevitably grown as a musician through the exploration of music genres as well as navigating the industrial side of creating and promoting music.

“I’m really proud of myself that I never backed down,” Cantu Huante said. “Because it’s intimidating trying to release music and be your own artist. And even though I am intimidated constantly along the way, I’ve never, never thought about backing down.”

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