Berklee intern Gary Lazzara asks the question “How does music education translate into the realities of life in the industry?” Gary interviewed Keith Harris producer, songwriter, musician and performer with The Black Eyed Peas for answers and will post his interview on Thursday.

There was a time in my life when I used to think there were only two types of income possibilities in the music industry. One was as a super-star artist making millions of dollars, like the artists I saw on MTV, and the other was the musician dressed in a funny costume playing the Dixieland combo-band at Disneyland. As a result, I felt pressured to follow a career in business and to keep my music interest as a hobby. Becoming a super-star felt as far fetched as winning the lottery and I felt the odds of being successful with a business degree were more realistic.

After a few semesters as a business major and a partnership with an internet startup, an offer came my way to work in the mortgage industry during the height of the mortgage boom. Like many others, I rode the mortgage wave until its collapse in 2007.

During my time working as a young professional, I remember making comparisons between the ecommerce and mortgage industries. The most commonly emphasized values between the two industries were: 1) Meeting and exceeding quotas, 2) being responsible, 3) being accountable, and 4) delivering high quality customer service. And yes, it was stressful- very stressful.

I also began comparing what was emphasized in school to what was actually emphasized in the workplace. There were plenty of discrepancies and I realized that a disconnect existed between my studies and “real” work. So much, in fact, that I began to wonder how much of what I learned in school was actually being applied in my day-to-day activities. Those realizations really stuck with me.

As I came to Berklee, I wondered if I would encounter any disconnect after graduating and going to work in the music industry. I also wondered if the music industry was similar to business in more ways than one.

Internships I’ve taken through Berklee gave me a taste of what actually happens in a business environment. As an intern at Dirty Water Sound, my supervisor made it very clear to me that studio engineering is grounded in a commitment to customer service- that paying customers are expecting you to deliver what they want- not just what you think is best personally as an artist.

These and other experiences strengthened my notion that there was more to the industry than a new graduate might understand, so I decided to research this topic and host a series of interviews with industry professionals in hopes of discovering those things that can only be taught by experience.

This Thursday, I’ll post my first interview with Producer/Performer Keith Harris, current member of the Black Eyed Peas and former Berklee MP&E (Music Production & Engineering) graduate of ‘99. Keith recently decided to give back to his alma mater by hosting a master class titled “LAB: Life after Berklee” where he shared his time and experiences after Berklee. As a preface to the interview, I described my story and had an extremely valuable conversation with Keith that I hope my fellow students will find equally eye-opening.

Tune in this Thursday to see the interview…


Born and raised in Southern California, Gary Lazzara started his music career at a young age. Whether through playing the guitar, piano, marching trombone, percussion, drum set, or working in the analog/digital music production domain, Gary has immersed himself in many different aspects of the music creation and performance process. Gary currently is enrolled at Berklee College of Music as a dual major in Music Production and Engineering and Electronic Production and Design. Gary hopes to someday own his own music studio and travel around the world collaborating with artists to create hybrids in music genres by fusing new and old local styles of music with the popular music of today.

Say “Hey!” to Gary and continue the conversation on Facebook.