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 Sean Donaghy and I graduated from the Music Industry program in June of 2014. I currently work at NFL Films in their music department, clearing and sourcing commercial music for NFL Films productions and the NFL Network as well as maintaining cue sheets for royalty reporting.
NFL Films is a production company that is famous for documenting the sport of football and creating a visual experience. We create content for major networks like CBS, FOX, and NBC as well as shows for NFL Network, Showtime, HBO, and Nickelodeon. My first gig with NFL Films was clearing music for the 11 time Emmy Award winning series Hard Knocks on HBO.
How does your experience within the Music Industry Program at Drexel compare to your actual experience now that you are out in the field?
The Music Industry Program does a great job on placing personal responsibility at the forefront of the curriculum, making students accountable for their success and what they take away from the classes. With such diverse curriculum, students can decide what they want to focus on, rather than being forced into one path that may not be right for them. Stepping out into the field, it becomes painfully apparent that being able to rely on the skills you have learned and applying them with confidence can make a great difference for your trajectory in the industry.
Have you had any "AHA" moments that you would like to share, either during your Drexel days or post-graduation?
One of the biggest "AHA" moments for me was entering the workforce with all these tools and realizing that in starting a career, you have to start learning again. Drexel gives you the skills to be ahead of the curve entering the workforce, but it takes time to learn how to apply those skills in the industry. Also, it is paramount to start building value in yourself as a professional outside of the specific project you are working on. The people at the top can float from company to company since they have worked hard on building their personal brand, and are recognized as valuable assets to any team!
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?
The co-op process was great for me. I first co-op'ed with Mad Dragon Publishing. Professor Michelle Manghise, who runs the company and publishing classes, really was the mentor that solidified that publishing was where I wanted to be. Working with her directly helped me to get a part time job at a NYC music publishing company called House of Hassle. There I learned both royalty and copyright administration, which was a much less creative role than what I had done at MDP, but this experience helped me to understand the industry at a deeper, more detailed level. I worked on writer registrations, royalty calculations, helped lay out a new royalty collection and distribution database, and sometimes assisted with music searches for their licensing entity, Bank Robber Music. One of the biggest takeaways was learning the licensing process, language, and legal rights associated with different music uses.
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?
I spent most of my freshman year figuring out what part of the industry interested me most (as most people do), finally landing on publishing at the end of Freshman year / early Sophomore year. From there, my growth was pretty exponential because I had a central focus, using all my classes as a means of digging deeper into the publishing realm, even if the classes did not directly relate to music publishing. Having something to keep my attention and relate my coursework to really helped develop my work ethic. It also prepared me for the responsibility of working for real companies, because I could see my work was an investment to a greater end than whatever project I was working on at the time.
Most of my work experience snowballed together. Once I got my foot in the door with publishing, I tried to take on as many responsibilities as I could and haven't really stopped. Now at NFL Films, it becomes more about building your network with labels and publishers and maintaining those relationships, so it's definitely a new challenge. It also becomes more important to learn the infrastructure of where you are working, since I no longer work for a small company where I only deal with 10 people. Everyone has their role and in order for it to work, everyone needs to work efficiently together. NFL Films definitely has that down to a science for such a large production company.
What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
Right now, I am looking forward to staying with NFL Films, building my network and my portfolio. It'd be great to branch into some non-sports related films and shows doing music supervision and clearance during the off season. My main focus is working on projects that people are passionate about and yield aesthetically excellent results, whether it be an advertisement, a video game, or Youtube series. Over the next five years, I'd like to have a collection of work that can speak for itself, possibly start up my own company, and perfect wrapping a burrito (it's really difficult for no reason)!
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?
There were a few classes that really stuck out. The main Music Industry courses were Copyrights in the Music Industry, The Publishing Industry, Trademarks and Patents, Entrepreneurship and the Mad Dragon Publishing practicum classes. Michelle Manghise really cultivated my specific path into music publishing, and a lot of my course selections were based around what I thought would help me better understand that industry. I took some additional courses in business and intellectual property law that really helped round out the publishing side of my education. I would recommend also stepping out into other departments. Another extremely influential professor was Jacques Catudal in the Philosophy department, who taught Aesthetics, and Knowledge Organization, both of which helped me to find different ways of looking at situations, organizing my life, and diversifying my interests. Both Catudal and Manghise instilled in me the most important components of education: personal initiative and constant growth. They pushed you to be accountable for your work, and insisted on quality work that is distinctly yours. If you go into your classes just to pass and get good grades, you are there for the wrong reasons. They both gave me a better perspective about my education and my future.
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?
For any prospective students, learn what you can, don't be afraid to challenge your professors (make sure you know what you are talking about first though), and trust in the food trucks. You won't be disappointed.