Friday, December 5, 2014

The College Experience with Ashley Kervabon

>> Hello, all! We haven't shared a story recently, and I want to get back in the swing of things. In case you're new to the feature, here's a brief explanation of what I'm after:  The College Experience is my way of discussing the pros and cons of taking steps to have a career while still being a student, or how the desire to be involved with the music industry could interfere with the pursuit of a degree.  I'll be asking a selection of folks the same basic questions regarding their school, their role in the industry, their struggles, and their goals.  I'll also ask about each person's individual projects, whether they are photographers, musicians, aspiring publicists, writers, promoters, and the like. I think it'll be interesting to see how each of us deals with the difficulties of balancing  and prioritizing the various obstacles we face as students with big ambitions.

>> Today we're highlighting Ashley Kervabon, a recent college grad who is looking to find a job in the industry while actively pursuing a career as a musician.  Before graduating, Ashley held internships with the likes of Atlantic Records and MTV, and now she's focusing on making her music the best it can be and getting it out there. Read about her experience of making contacts, exploring different areas, and ultimately deciding to focus on what she loves most below.

Please state your name, age, what school you attended, your major, and what year you graduated.
​Ashley Kervabon, 22, Hunter College Graduate 2014, Major: Media, Minor: Spanish ​

When and how did you first get involved with the music scene?
I first became involved with music when I was ten years old and started taking piano lessons. From then on I picked up the bass guitar and most recently singing and songwriting. As far as the scene goes, I started going to shows when I was 17.

​ If you got involved at a relatively early age, were age restricted shows ever a problem?
​Age restricted ​shows were definitely an issue and unfortunately still are. I have a lot of underage friends who aren't allowed to go to my shows. It's a shame that venues are so worried about selling drinks and making money rather than spreading music with a large crowd.

Now that you're out of college, has that aspect gotten easier? Are things more accessible to you now?
​In terms of age restriction, things are definitely easier for me. However I wouldn't say it has all gotten easier. Some shows cost money and though I am completely for paying cover charges in support of the band who is playing, sometimes a drink minimum makes the outing a little out of budget for a recent college grad/musician. ​

Do you find that you have more or less free time generally now that you’ve graduated?
​Now that I am working nights at a restaurant it is a bit harder to attend shows and when I am not working I am rehearsing with my own band so my free time is very limited and varies upon the week. 

What experiences have you had so far in the industry?
​I've had several internships during college in the music industry which were all a blast and I would say they were probably the best thing about my college years. After college I've just been trying to make new connections and keep in touch with the ones that I already have.

What did you get out of each of those experiences?
​Contacts are definitely a huge plus. I think everyone's success story starts with someone that already know believing in them. ​

Are there any companies in the industry that you particularly admire? Whether they’re companies you’ve worked with or just companies you follow, what appeals to you about them?
​I don't want to pinpoint companies but I will say this, anyone working in the music industry is amazing in my book. It's an industry that is always changing and never rests. I admire anyone who can keep up with that. ​

Being actively involved in the music industry, how often were you tempted to skip class or put off an assignment in order to attend / play a show? Or, how often have you put off real life responsibilities in favor of musical pursuits? How do you make the choice?
​Being honest, I've always put my music career (as an artist) first. Physically I would be in class but my mind was always elsewhere. There are lots of good lyrics in the back of my old psychology notebooks. Making the choice was always easy for me because I'm confident of my music career but I can see how some people would be conflicted. ​

Have you ever arranged your schedule based on music related obligations? / Have you ever had to turn something down or reschedule something based on your school schedule?
​I don't think I've ever had to reschedule. I would always work around it and again, if I had to pick one I would pick playing a show. ​

Were you often faced with tough choices when it comes to priorities and scheduling as a student also involved in the music industry?
​It was annoying to have to go to class in the midst of writing a song but other than that I could work around it.

Did you struggle with roommates? Did not having enough space ever get in the way?
​I never dormed but even having bandmates in different boroughs makes things sometimes complicated. Living in such a big city (with small apartments) has it's pros and cons. The good thing is that there are plenty of decently priced rehearsal studios that make life a lot easier.

​What was one of the biggest obstacles you've faced while trying to progress your career while still in school? Did you face many tough obstacles like that, or did being in school help you take those next steps?
​I think being in school gave me enough time to figure out in what direction to go in.. ​

Which direction is that, the direction of focusing on your music?
I think that school gave me time to figure out what I didn't want and what I did want in regards to my future. I know that I want to be in the music business, ideally as a songwriter and performer. Though my PR internships were fun and I learned a lot, that's just not my main focus right now.

Ideally, what would you like to do next with your music?
As for what's next, just playing a lot of shows in and out of NYC as well as recording a demo with my band Queen of Wands.
How did being in college help you advance your involvement in the music industry? Do you think the pros of being in both simultaneously outweigh the cons?
​If i truly wanted to go into the business aspect of music I think I say that yes school helped me a bunch but as a musician I sometimes wish I had used that time to take more music oriented classes (voice lessons, etc.). ​

Do you think it's been beneficial to start your career in the music industry while you're still in school?
​I think if you know what you want definitely start ASAP. It won't always be easy but it's definitely worth it.

​What have you been up to since graduation?
​I've been going on interviews here and there for assistant positions in the music business but have mostly been focusing on writing new material for my solo career and most recently performing with my new band Queen of Wands. ​

What would you say to someone debating how to pursue a career in the industry while still in school? What advice would you give to a younger you?
​I would say just go for it! People talk a lot of shit about the music business but if it's what you really want, once you get involved it'll be so rewarding! ​


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