Big music names for big industry conference

By Lisa Schulz

One night of distributing business cards, receiving critique on work samples and creating confident conversation with music industry professionals can lead to five years working within different entities at Hip-Hop mogul Sean :Diddy” Comb’s Enterprises.

At least that’s the path Sara Anwar, instructor in the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department and 2006 graduate, made for herself at Columbia, and students are invited to follow.

Columbia alumni, musical producers, artists, engineers, managers and stylists will travel from New York City and Los Angeles to participate in the annual “Write Ya Life” Music Industry Conference on April 27 in the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

“If I would have never done that music conference, Lenny [Santiago] would have never offered me the opportunity to come to New York,” Anwar said of Jay-Z’s “right-hand man” and Island Def Jam Music Group’s vice president of Arts & Repertoire. “I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if I never successfully executed and coordinated the music industry events in Chicago.”

According to the event’s website,, industry guests will include Anwar; Tiffany Hasbourne, celebrity wardrobe stylist; sound engineers Jeff Lane and Craig Bauer, who worked with Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West; producers Ernest “Tuo” Clark and 2006 alumnus Marcos Kosine Palacios of “Da Internz,” who produced Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” and Big Sean’s “Dance;” singer Aaron Michael Cox, who has collaborated with Jesse McCartney and John Legend; Shawn Barron, director of A&R at record label Atlantic Recordsc; Walter Jones, urban A&R at Sony/ATV Music Publishing; and Julius “Just Be” Garcia, manager of A&R at Sony Music and manager for hip-hop artist J. Cole.

Panels to be held include the “Dos and Don’ts of Making a Hit Record,” “The Music Industry Uncut,” “Making of the Artist: A Lesson in Rebranding,” “Show Me the $$$: Publishing and Licensing,” “Women in the Industry” and “Ask the A&R.” Listening sessions are also planned to sample student work.

Palacios, a member of the listening session panel, said that he will not critique students any differently than he critiques his clients.

“I’m going to treat them like I’m in a real A&R meeting or if they’re trying to be considered to be part of our production team,” he said. “I’m just going to be straight-up with the kids.”

Palacios was also a part-time Columbia instructor before he moved to L.A. to pursue producing full-time.

The reservations-only event is sponsored by the Student Programming Board, student marketing organization Co-Chi Entertainment and Da Internz.

Majors outside of the AEMM and Audio Arts & Acoustics departments are encouraged to attend, said Dick Joseph, president of Co-Chi Entertainment and sophomore marketing communication major.

He said he expects 300 students to attend the event and MIC will continue annually in the future.

“We’re hoping to hold different shows and events here on campus and really get our students involved with real work to put on their resume and portfolios,” he said.

Noticing there weren’t many opportunities at Columbia for music industry networking in 2007, Anwar said she worked with James Nichols, another Columbia alumnus, to host conferences and showcases. Her internship path began after she spoke with Santiago at her last conference.

Anwar currently teaches an online internship management course for Columbia in NYC, where Diddy’s record label, Bad Boy/Entertainment, is located. Even with spontaneous work travel trips, she attributes the simplicity of balancing both jobs to organization and persistence.

“You learn how to be a perfectionist, take things to the next level, go above and beyond making things happen, never taking no for an answer,” Anwar said. “Your character is built differently compared to other companies.”

To RSVP for the Music Industry Conference, visit