Senior music production student Andrew DeGirolamo applies experiential learning opportunities like SXSW to personal and professional growth

Published: April 25, 2022 Author: Samantha Pelham

Andrew DeGirolamo, a senior music production/recording industry major with a marketing minor from Newton, Conn., took the lessons he learned from the Ohio-in-LA program and used them to get the best personal and professional experience out of SXSW, building relationships with industry professionals.

“I wanted to go to SXSW because I wanted to meet professionals in the music industry and learn from them, especially as I prepared to graduate OU,” DeGirolamo said.

DeGirolamo, who participated in the Ohio-in-LA program last summer, found SXSW extremely beneficial on both a personal and professional level.

“I went on the summer Ohio-in-LA program last summer and that prepared me on how to build relationships, and I feel like I was able to transfer that well to SXSW,” DeGirolamo said. “You never know who you are going to run into and when. On a personal level there are also just a ton of music events/concerts, and those were a lot of fun.”

For DeGirolamo, most days started off by going to sessions starting at 9:30 a.m. such as the importance of collecting data to see trends and create art, decentralized autonomous organizations or “crypto-currency companies,” how to brand yourself as an indie artist, and music and film scoring, among others. After attending the panel sessions, he would take the opportunity to meet and connect with those speakers and ask them questions, taking notes on all the insights offered.

Andrew D. Japanese Breakfast
DeGirolamo meets Japanese Breakfast singer Michelle Zauner.

Throughout the days, he was also able to schedule one-on-one mentoring sessions with industry leaders like the head of promotion at Glassnote records. He was able to connect with him over their favorite music and career interests. After day sessions and mentorships ended, the heart of the festival began, according to DeGirolamo. Every night there would be different concerts and parties, allowing for attendees to interact in a more casual and fun manner with the industry leaders.

“While lots of great things happen during the day, concerts at night were where the real magic was at,” DeGirolamo said. “I talked to many of the audio engineers at most shows, and I met a lot of people just like me along with other professionals, and now I have those relationships with those people. I met several of the artists I saw perform, as well as their managers and distributors too.”

Some of DeGirolamo’s favorite concerts included Spoon, Mattiel, Wet Leg, Magdalena Bay, and Japanese Breakfast. Along with the opportunity to hear these artists, the different venues where they all played also interested him. DeGirolamo said the best venues were the Moody theatre, as well as the Elysium, a goth bar where he went for a "synth-pop" night to see Orion, Club Intl, and Desire.

DeGirolamo attends the Mattiel concert at SXSW.

In addition to the panel and mentor sessions and concerts, there were also several business Spotify sessions about artist branding that really piqued his interest, as well as sessions about indie artists and alternative payment methods in music. For DeGirolamo, who produces his own music and also aspires to help other artists, these sessions were extremely valuable.

After graduation, DeGirolamo is hoping to secure a position at a record label and move to New York while continuing to write and record his own and other artists’ music.