Pacific's Music Management Advisory Board helps students build professional connections

Casey Lowdermilk

Casey Lowdermilk '07 (far left) with interning conservatory students at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Perhaps more than any other form of entertainment, music has undergone a massive transition from the days of shopping for CDs at Tower Records to now having myriads of songs in your pocket via streaming apps. In part to help University of the Pacific stay attuned to those changes, Pacific's Music Management Advisory Board was created in 2008 at the suggestion of Interim Dean William Hipp. The goals for the board would be to provide Pacific with up to date advice on curriculum, internships, job placements as well as mentorship to Pacific students. 

“Before becoming a college professor, I wore many hats in the music business, from being a working musician to founding a recording studio and music tech PR firm, so I knew the value of building connections,” reminisces Keith Hatschek, director of music management and music industry studies. “When I came to Pacific, I realized there needed to be a stronger connection between the academic program and the music industry because you cannot stay competitive in music business higher education without fresh input from the front lines.”

Hatschek recruited many prominent music and entertainment industry professionals to the board representing such companies as Universal Music Group, Facebook, Mack Avenue Records, Another Planet Entertainment, Mason & Hamlin Pianos, or Seven Seas Music, to name just a few. Currently, 12 of the 20 board members are Pacific alumni.

One of the board members is Casey Lowdermilk ’07, who is a promoter for Another Planet Entertainment. His passion for live music has guided his professional career from helping produce the High Sierra Music Festival to his current position as Assistant General Manager at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

“I wanted to join to give back and because I believed I could add value to students' learning," comments Lowdermilk on the reasons for accepting invitation to the Board. "There’s only a handful of people working in the live portion of the music industry and I have this experience.”

His vast experience in event management has already benefited five conservatory students, who interned last summer under Lowdermilk’s mentorship in the credentials department for one of the premier multi-day music events the Outside Lands Festival 2019.

“This internship gave me knowledge, experience, and memories that I will never forget," said Axel Tanner '20. "Long workdays were common, as we were shown just how much work it takes in the weeks leading up to a huge festival. Customer service, persistence, and problem-solving were three huge skills I developed. I also made some great industry connections and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Tanner and the others were able to intern at the Outside Lands Music Festival thanks to the Breakthrough Internship Fund established by the Music Management Advisory Board and supported by annual donations from its members. Since its inception in 2010, the fund has helped 17 students to participate in off-campus experiential learning internships by providing stipends for housing, travel and living expenses.

“These students were able to see what it takes to produce a huge event," said Lowdermilk. "In this industry, experience is very important. If you want to run a big event like that, you need to start in the box office and learn the nuts and bolts of the process.”

Being a part of a large event team is undeniably a valuable experience, but maybe equally as important is the direct interaction and coaching students receive from the board members who pass on the lessons they have learned themselves. One such opportunity is at the annual Mentoring Brunch held each spring on the Stockton campus. Students receive valuable one-on-one advice from industry experts on how to get their foot in the door to this competitive industry.

Last year, some of the board members were paired with graduating seniors to serve as their personal mentors, giving the students advice and support as they prepared to navigate the job market upon graduation. Nearly all mentors have been guest lecturers and three have actually taught a class for a semester, further demonstrating their commitment to Pacific.

“Educators and industry must engage in an ongoing dialog about what it takes to be successful in the business as it continues to undergo substantial reinvention, and our board is a great example of such collaboration,” commented Hatschek. “Their input is crucial in developing our fast-growing music industry studies degree program which merges practice with theory and internships to give students the tools to succeed in this fast-paced environment.”

Learn more about the Conservatory's programs.