Meet music business alum Nick Tanner '19

Written byElizabeth Rose-Arcuri

“Anybody that wants a solid foundation in the music industry and is interested in it, I would definitely suggest looking at the music business program.”

Nick Tanner
Graduation Year
Class of 2019
Kenner, La.

Where I'm From

I came to UL Lafayette from Kenner, La., for the music business program.

Where I Am

I’m a professional musician in Lafayette.

Where I'm Going

I’m going to build my music career in Lafayette and across the South.

Nick Tanner, ’19, was looking for a music degree that paired musical preparation with behind-the-scenes knowledge.

After considering programs in New Orleans, Nick landed on UL Lafayette’s bachelor’s in music with a concentration in music business.

“Understanding the business side of things takes a lot more studying, a lot more direction,” Nick said. “You need to be able to know how to market yourself and promote yourself and understand the financial aspects, creating a brand — that’s why I was really interested in it.”

UL Lafayette offers the only bachelor-level music business program in the state — plus, it was affordable for Nick.

Through the music business program, Nick got valuable experience that’s prepared him for life as a professional musician.

Learning by Doing

Lafayette’s year-round slate of festivals and vibrant live music scene were the perfect training ground for Nick. Through his classes and with the School of Music’s ensembles, Nick began playing gigs around town.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette music student Nick Tanner got experience playing at festivals while he was in school

“That gave me the opportunity to find out where you want to play,” he recalled. “It got my foot in the door here in Lafayette and inspired me to do the same on my own in other cities.”

With his classmates, Nick volunteered on stage production and security at Lafayette’s festivals, including Festival International and Festivals Acadiens et Créoles — experiences that gave him valuable insights into how festivals work.

Nick performed at Festival International de Louisiane — the world’s largest international music festival — for the first time with UL Lafayette’s Ragin’ Blues Band during his freshman year.

Four years later, during his senior year, he interned with Festival International under the programming director. He was responsible for communicating with dozens of artists from around the world, negotiating and finalizing their contracts, and working with tour managers.

“I’ve always had a love for the festival culture, so it was really cool to work under Lisa Stafford in the programming department and understand and just be around all the people she would talk to,” Nick said. “It’s crazy how many connections she has and being able to see, you know, the Grammys are literally just a few connections away."

“I was so glad that I interned there and I’m so glad that UL Lafayette gave me that opportunity. I got a lot of joy and a lot of knowledge out of it.”

Wherever Nick’s music takes him next, he wants to stay connected to Lafayette and South Louisiana.

“I love the culture here (in Lafayette), I love the culture in New Orleans, I love the music culture in the South. I feel like the South has the best musicians,” he said. “It’s soulful, it’s blues-y, but at the same time it can uplift you with funk and dance music and gospel and all that. It’s this really unique blend that a lot of places try to have but they can’t."

Learning from Professionals

Nick always liked mixing and mastering music. Learning under professionals amplified that interest.

“Chris Munson just opened up my field of vision,” Nick said. “He was there for me to go bother him after class and asking him questions about compressors and EQ. He just opened the world of mixing and mastering for me.”

Nick took classes in mixing and mastering, production, and post-production from assistant professor Chris Munson. He got hands-on experience at Dockside Studio — the legendary recording studio in Maurice, La., that has welcomed renowned artists like Mavis Staples, Dr. John, and Sonny Landreth.

“I feel like it’s (mixing and mastering) one of the most underrated parts of music,” Nick said. “It’s part of the arrangement, and people don’t realize when they hear a bad mix, they don’t like the song even though it’s a good song.

“Mixing and mastering pushes music to the next level and makes music sound that much better and gives it more value when coming to distributing and selling it.”

Nick also learned a significant amount from the Music Marketing & Promotion (MUS 255) class with assistant professor Scott Durbin.

“Scott explained how branding works, and how album release timelines and putting out, you know, press releases work — just even knowing about that was huge,” Nick said. “Before the class I had no idea that you even need to do that.

“The marketing and promotion starts with first booking the event, and you have to do that three to four months ahead, and then that’s how you set up ads, releases, interviews — understanding things like that and the timeline. That’s what I really got out of the class and will continue to use throughout my life and the rest of my career.”

Scott and Chris became mentors for Nick.

“I’m trying to go out and use all the knowledge they helped give me and use the tools that they made me realize I had,” Nick said. “They both turned into friends as well as mentors. So I’m looking forward to continuing to build our friendship until we’re old and gray. I’m always there to do whatever for them because of what they did for me.

“Anybody that wants a solid foundation in the music industry and is interested in it, I would definitely suggest looking at the music business program. It’s only growing and it’s only getting better, and Scott and Chris are going to be incredible mentors.”

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