Please introduce yourself and briefly tell us what you are working on now (name, graduation year, and current role in the industry).
My name is Andrew Aversa, class of '09, and I'm a composer, producer, and sound designer. Since graduation, I've had the good fortune to work full-time writing music for video games, developing virtual instrument software, and releasing original electronic albums under the moniker 'zircon'.
How does your experience within the Music Industry Program at Drexel compare to your actual experience now that you are out in the field?
I took so many classes at Drexel that ended up translating directly into the 'real world', so to speak. All of the core music classes – theory, arranging, ear training – benefit my composition work. The
business and legal courses gave me an excellent foundation for navigating contracts, royalties, and record deals. Specific tech studies like Audio for Video have been invaluable when, for example,
I've needed to write scores for film & video! Most importantly, the professors in the Music Industry program imparted a great deal of advice from their personal experiences that have helped guide me.
Have you had any “AHA “ moments that you would like to share, either during your Drexel days or post-graduation?
I think one key moment came in my second year at Drexel, when Music Industry professor Jim Klein described the process of music licensing – where a composer offers music to film, TV, and advertising catalogs – and personally advised me on how I might license my own music. Shortly thereafter I got my first licensing deal, which was also my first significant paycheck as a composer. With Jim's help, I was able to write and license much more music after that and kickstart my career.
Can you talk about ways in which Drexel’s co-op program helped you to determine your career and professional goals? Where did you co-op and what was your experience like?
My first co-op was at the Drexel record label, MAD Dragon. This was an enlightening experience into the inner workings of a label, and I spent time on the marketing, legal, and business side of things. At
the same time, it also helped me to realize that I was not as interested in the management side of music, and preferred to be 'on the ground' as a composer and artist myself. So, my second co-op was
an independent study with Jim Klein, whose career as a composer was a huge inspiration. With his guidance, I was able to build even more momentum for my career, solidifying my decision to become a full-time composer and artist.
How would you describe your growth as both a student, and as an active member of the music industry, from your start as a freshman to the current day?
When I arrived at Drexel, I had some experience under my belt producing original music and writing soundtracks for video games. My technical skills as a producer were good, but I had very limited
experience with traditional music studies like theory and ear training, and no sense of the music business at all.
Today, I have a much richer background in music – both textbook studies and practical experience playing the Drexel fusion jazz ensemble and taking private lessons. I've learned a great deal about
arranging and orchestration. I'm well-versed with copyrights, licensing, record deals, royalties, business law, and even accounting, all of which are used heavily in my career. I now have a large catalog of music and credits under my belt, and a successful music software business that has employed Drexel students for their own co-ops!
What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
I'm very thankful to have already achieved my primary goal of earning a comfortable living doing what I love. So, my plans are mostly to keep doing what I'm already doing: writing albums, scoring for video
game soundtracks, creating virtual instruments, and collaborating with talented musicians on exciting projects.
Over the next five years, I'm hoping to produce a dance song that receives a Grammy nomination (or even a win!). I'd also like to be a lead composer on a major video game franchise like Halo or Call of
Were there any particular classes or professors that helped you to decide on your career path, or which you would recommend to future MIP students?
As mentioned previously, Jim Klein was a huge inspiration and a true mentor. Lynne Riley also helped me improve my listening and improvisation skills, which I now use almost every day. I would highly
recommend that all students invest time into theory, ear training, and instrumental practice, particularly if they're interested in doing any writing or production. Also, while business & law might seem like a
dry area of study at first glance, it's incredibly useful and will give you the tools you need to actually make a living in this crazy industry!
Any last words or take-aways you’d like to shout out to our prospective students and their parents about our program and your experience?
As you think about your career in music, I think it's important to look at yourself as an entrepreneur forging your own path. This is very much a business that rewards creativity, motivation, and a thirst
for knowledge and self-improvement. The Music Industry program at Drexel will give you all the tools and resources you need to build your own career, whether you're interested in writing, performing,
producing, managing, or engineering. All you have to do is put in your own time, both in and out of the classroom, and you'll be well on your way to success.