Musical Chairs at the Music Industry Networking Breakfast
Last February, 45 students, alumni, faculty, and staff participated in a speed-dating style networking exercise sponsored by the UVA Career Center that might best be termed musical chairs. The second annual Music Industry Networking Breakfast represents an expansion of sorts in the Career Center’s industry-specific approach. It is one that hits close to home for Kate Melton, Director of the Career Center’s Career Communities, Creative Arts, Media, & Design. In fact, you might say Melton and her family live, eat and breathe the music industry. Her husband Jesse Harper is the guitarist and lead singer of Love Canon, known for its traditional bluegrass takes on 80’s classics, and a highly popular touring act that just signed with Nashville’s Organic Records. “I realized at a certain point that I was doing a lot of direct referrals for students using my own personal community.” As she found that the growth of the local festival scene was bringing more interest in the industry than ever from students, Melton reached out to contacts both in and outside of the University and alumni community to see what she could do to enhance that particular offering in the Career Center.
Melton partnered with the PKG Committee, which is part of the University Programs Council and works to book and present national acts on Grounds. The organizations joined forces to co-sponsor the breakfast, which last year drew a collection of pros from throughout the industry. Panelists have included Charlottesville’s Brian Calhoun, founder of Rockbridge Guitars, the axe of choice for Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, and Keith Urban; UVA alum and noted entertainment industry attorney Justin Laugher (College ‘03); Patrick Schirmer (BIS ‘15), music product manager for Discovery Communications. Other panelists have lived at the intersections of music and education, business, songwriting, marketing, production and management. Participating students got three rounds of 15 minutes with the professionals, meeting in small groups with a different person before the bell rang. The event then transitioned to open networking. Fourth Year Madeline Budreau was chairperson of the PKG committee last year and partnered with Melton to put the event on. “The breakfast is a fantastic way to gain exposure to various types of music industry jobs,” she said. “Even if you are talking about something as simple as becoming better informed and making connections.” Budreau has been making connections throughout her time at UVA, and was connected to Chris Keup, a panelist at the breakfast. “I was helping out with his company and went to Richmond to meet with Chris’s lawyer about contracts, little did I know, that lawyer was Justin Laugher, whom I had seen two years ago at the breakfast!”