Berklee Alumnus Kevin Augunas Discusses Charting His Own Career Path

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By Caleb Hsu

Creativity and innovative thinking are among some of the most valuable assets for professionals who wish to excel in today’s competitive business environment. Such skills are particularly critical in the music industry, where new technologies and ideas compel constant change in the ways music is developed, marketed, and distributed. These trends are at the core of Berklee’s recently launched Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE), an initiative designed to inspire, educate, and launch the next generation of creative entrepreneurs. Read a detailed press release here.

Alumnus and Sonicbids founder, Panos Panay, has been named founding managing director of BerkleeICE, and works as a panel moderator, initiating thought-provoking guided conversations with selected panelists in various lecture series.

This past Monday, Berklee alumnus Kevin Augunas came by the Loft to discuss charting his own path as a musician/engineer/producer/entrepreneur. In 2006, Kevin founded the independent label Fairfax Recordings, which has since relocated to the revolutionary space formerly known as the historical Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. Kevin has worked with a broad range of talented artists including the Black Keys, Grammy winner Gotye, Cold War Kids, Last Bison, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and Grammy nominees The Lumineers.

Having gone from independently producing out of his own home to entering in joint venture partnerships with labels, while running his own label and legendary studio, Kevin had a lot of practical advice to offer attendees. Below are some key takeaways and memorable quotes from Kevin’s chat with Panos.

  • Aim for simplicity in your work; try not to unnecessarily overcomplicate the creative process.
  • Have intention with your sound (e.g. when choosing between using analog vs. digital). Make choices based on a specific thought process, not at random. Be able to hear what you’re doing before you do it.
  • Have an opinion about everything. Don’t be afraid to walk alone in your own voice.
  • Strive to maintain a productive balance between money and creative inspiration. Money oftentimes overshadows creativity, so postpone asking other people for money as long as possible. Try to do as much as you can on your own (financially).
  • Follow your instincts. Don’t be afraid to make your own history. Be respectful of those who came before you, but have the courage to do something different.
  • Use technology in context—don’t allow your decision making skills and instinctive gut feelings to become obscured by the massive amounts of technology available.

“Be the worst [player] in the room. Surround yourself with performers way better than you, and allow them to elevate you to their level. When you’re always the best person in the room, you never learn, and you’re not challenged to grow as an artist.”

“Problem solving is a like chew toy for your brain—it’s how you learn from making mistakes.” 

“Be simple with intentions of producing the highest quality results.”

Check out BerkleeICE’s upcoming events page for more seminars like this! The next event will be on Wednesday, April 2, at 3PM in the 921 Building Loft.