Many successful graduates come to IPR with a dream and a vision for the future. If we’re doing what we know best, we can often help a students’ dreams come to fruition by showing them that hard work, passion, and a heavy dose of persistence can take them further than they ever thought possible. The reality is we train graduates so they have the tools to succeed, but we can’t take the journey for them.
Below you will discover the story of a young man whose passion has carried him all the way from his teenage years to contour a passage to IPR and beyond. All we did was show him how to clear the way for a career in a complex, ever changing field. Please welcome Alex Hegewald, IPR Music and Enterainment Business graduate, and his success story.
I am originally from Spokane, WA. I was always interested in music, but never played an instrument (or anything close to it) until I turned 16. That’s when I started Djing. From about 16-20 I lived in record stores, spending every spare dollar I had on records. I never thought I could turn a simple love for music in to a well-paying career.
I was always interested in Business, and became bored with what State Universities had to offer. When I heard about IPR, I was considering doing the Audio Program, but other than DAW’s (Logic and Ableton), mixing and engineering were a bit monotonous for me. So I visited and learned about the Entertainment Business program. From the first day I was hooked! Every class and teacher was incredibly helpful to shape where I am now.
Currently I am in the beginning stages of starting my own company, Alex Mac Music. My initial focus is Djing weddings and private events, but with plans to evolve it into something bigger within the next ten years. I don’t want to DJ forever, but I would like to work within the music and entertainment industry for life.
What would IPR students and instructors say they remember about you?
I would hope that instructors would remember me as a humorous but hard working individual. The music industry seems to be such a numbers game, with percents and album sales etc. (ever read a Billboard Magazine?) I tried to keep things fun and interesting for everyone while in the class room. So perhaps, a hardworking class clowns?
Were there any big projects you undertook in your classes that laid the ground work for some of the things you’re doing now?
I would say my entire final semester was a big project in itself. I was working under Kevin Beacham from Rhymesayers Entertainment to put together a proposal for a national hip-hop producers showcase. (Last of the Record Buyers) In the project, I combined a marketing plan with a short digital EPK to create a proposal for potential corporate sponsors. Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve the desired result (corporate sponsorship), but it was a great experience and has given me some groundwork and guidance into what I am doing now.
Out of all your instructors who would you say worked most closely with you and had a special interest in your success?
I would definitely say Eric Trelstad, as well as Scooter Nelson. Both of these upstanding young gentlemen are moguls in their own right within the music industry, and have showed me what I could one day do in the music business. Both are the owners their own companies, and inspired me to go a step above the rests and create my own career, instead of relying on others to do it for me.
How do you feel your IPR education prepared you for the industry?
IPR gave me a solid foundation for what to expect. With the Music Business, there is no real way to know what you are getting yourself into, until you immerse yourself in it. With the combination of the classes offered, IPR gives a student a good understanding of where they can go with just a little extra effort on their part.
What types of things did you learn only after you started working in the industry?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think the best class offered is the Networking class taught by Scooter. In the music industry and entertainment industry, every day is a networking opportunity. Whether you’re having a drink at a bar, or in a corporate environment, you never know who can potentially help you take your career to the next level.
Musicians and creative types tend to be intrusive and a bit introverted. So more often than not, the people who can combine talent with good social and network skills are the ones who really succeed in the music industry.
What do you think it means to be successful in this industry? What advice would you offer to students who are either just getting ready to graduate or who are wondering how to find their place in this industry?
Success is what you make of it. For some it’s money and fame, for others it’s just self-satisfaction for a job well done. For me money is a very important factor, it’s how I survive, but it isn’t the end all and be all of my career. So personally, I think what it means to be successful in the industry is respect from others for an HONEST job well done. But – a shiny BMW (paid for! Not leased!) doesn’t hurt either.
Advice I have for students about to graduate is simply find a specific part of this industry that interests you, and immerse yourself in it. Find out who is doing what you want to do and don’t be afraid to ask advice, more often than not people are more than happy to help. Don’t be afraid to work for free in the initial stages, (i.e. interning) but once you feel you have established yourself enough, demand payment for your work. Working for no pay lessens the quality of any industry so much. Demanding payment shows that you are actually worth it.
What types of industry work have you done so far?
Soon after graduating, I had an opportunity to move to New York for fairly cheap. I was already connected with a magazine and promotions company (Cornerstone/Fader) and had contacts within the film industry as well. I interned and worked for Cornerstone for a few months, while also working on a few commercials as a camera/production assistant for Honda Motors. Then I lined up with a DJ School and Events company called Scratch DJ Academy. From there I started assistant teaching classes and Djing corporate events for them.
Currently I am still working for Scratch, as a guest DJ on cruise ships (Royal Caribbean and Norwegian). It’s fun, but I wouldn’t exactly call it industry work. It’s more of a paid vacation (haha)! It does give me time to plan my next moves to start my production company, Alex Mac Music, which there I will focus on music programing and performance for high profile weddings and corporate events.
Since you’re trained at IPR for many different industry roles, do you have experience with graphic design, web design, blogging, other…? Explain.
I do blog a fair amount. I am pretty indecisive when it comes to blog names and content so I have a few different sites.
As far as graphic and web design goes, I tend to leave that to the professionals. Photoshop and illustrator is a bit over my head.
How important do you think attitude is when it comes to success in the music industry?
In my opinion, attitude is about 98.999% of the entertainment industry. Always say YES and stay positive!! When starting out, take any and all opportunities you can. You never know what will work out for you. Then when you have established yourself, you can be more selective with the opportunities that you take.
What one trait/ability/skill do you feel has helped you more than any other to be successful in this industry so far?
The ability to network combined with a positive attitude, and being available when opportunities arise. Skill and talent comes 2nd. Availability comes first!