Grammy U: Summit prepares college students for music industry


Zachary Strain

Gimel Keaton, also known as Young Guru and the mixer behind 10 of Jay-Z’s albums, speaks to Grammy U members about DJ-ing during the Grammy U Summit Saturday. Top music industry professionals led workshops and discussions for college students during the event.

Kayla Jonsson

Sixty students interested in the music business received the opportunity to meet some big names and get advice about the field.

Grammy U, an organization created by The Recording Academy to prepare college students for careers in the music industry, hosted Grammy U: Summit on Saturday. The Summit included a professional concert promoter and guest speaker, Louis Messina, followed by workshops with professional musicians, producers, publishers, writers and managers.

“There are some major, absolute elements you’ve got to understand before you go ‘OK, I want to do blank,’” Casey Monahan, Texas Music Office director, said. “Every artist has this build up in their minds of what they want to happen when they hit that stage, and if you’re in the business of setting up that moment there can be no surprises.”

Each student chose two of eight workshops offered to focus on the area of the music industry they are most interested in.

“I’m going to be on a bus somewhere this summer having fun with Kenny Chesney,” Messina said. “Chase your dreams and maybe one day that could be you.”

Public relations freshman Taylor Brooks was among a long line of students waiting to ask Messina additional questions after he spoke.

“I’m interested in going into concert promotion like Mr. Messina so that was really helpful to me,” Brooks said. “He helped us learn about the business aspect of the field as well as the emotional, stressful and fun and that’s invaluable.”

After 40 years as a promoter, Messina said he opened his own promotion office named The Messina Group. He said he has promoted George Straight, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks and Nickelback and produced special events with Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson in venues such as Texas Stadium and the new Cowboys Stadium.

“A concert producer has to surround himself with the right people and keep working until the last truck is loaded and leaves,” Messina said. “It’s promoting. It’s selling. It’s managing. It’s marketing. It’s ambiance. It’s comfort level. It’s honesty. It’s just doing what you’re supposed to do.”

The day concluded with dinner and performances by student musicians, Robot Williams and Ya Man Tee, where students relaxed and discussed all they had learned.

Printed on Monday, April 30, 2012 as: Music experts share advice with students