Klein College of Media and Communication launched its Visiting Artist Series on October 21 with alumnus John Oates, KLN '70, one half of the famed musical duo Daryl Hall & John Oates. Oates participated in a panel with other music industry heavy-hitters who spoke on "A Day in the Life" of a music industry professional. Hosted in Charles Library, the event was the first in a series of talks by professional artists who want to share their knowledge with future leaders in the entertainment industry. The event was also a part of the development of Klein College's live events curriculum for students.
Oates has a long history in the Philadelphia area and music scene. Though born in New York City, he grew up in North Wales, a suburb outside of Philadelphia. He decided to attend Temple University after considering his options; the Vietnam War was ongoing, and after losing good friends to the conflict, he did not want to be called to the draft. Journalism was his choice of study because he wanted to have time to focus on his music outside of school.
"What appealed to me most about Temple was I used to come to the Uptown Theater, right here on Broad Street," he said. "I saw all the great R&B acts of the sixties and all these incredible performances, and so I loved being in the city."
Oates eventually met Daryl Hall, a fellow Temple Owl, and the two worked hard to build notoriety. Oates said that they released four albums before gaining any commercial success. It was only up from there, with the two becoming the best-selling rock duo of all time. But Oates continues to push boundaries on his own, releasing eight solo albums and collaborating with other artists on interdisciplinary music projects.
"I like to do things that are interesting. I'm much more interested in doing things that are outside the box rather than just having another pop hit," he said. "That's not very important to me."
Along his musical career, Oates has met and maintained many music industry connections, including the three other professionals on the Visiting Artist Series panel. Anthony Aquilato, David Haskell and Phil Nicolo, KLN '77, all gave their insights about the opportunities available to those in the Temple community interested in the music industry.
As a longtime front-of-house engineer and manager, Aquilato made sure to emphasize the importance of gaining versatile skills to put on a great live show.
"Everyone here has their own specific niche that they've created in their professional life," he said. "The interaction that we're all going to have today, sharing our thoughts and ideas, is what expands to the next people down the line."
Haskell currently serves as president of Morris Lighting & Sound and was excited to share his inside knowledge with Temple students. Like Aquilato, he stressed that people who are enthusiastic to work in the music industry need to be prepared for its challenges. Because of his experience on the business side of live events, he also challenged students to think about pursuing technical roles, including information technology and lighting, to have a financially rewarding career.
"I think the most important aspect of anything that anybody does--not necessarily in music or entertainment or production--is learning something and passing it on," he said.
Nicolo, who works very closely with the Philadelphia music scene as the founder of Philadelphia's Studio 4 recording studio and an adjunct professor at Klein College, also advised students to "take any opportunity, any and every opportunity" to learn more about the business and the technical parts of the music industry.
The Visiting Artist Series is part of the developing live events curriculum for students. Joe Kraus, assistant professor of instruction at Klein College, is excited that Oates was the first artist to participate in the series.
"He's understanding enough that if there were anything things we had to iron out, he could roll with it because he knows we're starting this. And he wanted to be the groundbreaker," Kraus said. "So we can now go to the next artist and say 'John Oates did it, can you do it?' We have a big name behind it now."
The first live events curriculum class will be about live sound running and is set to launch next fall. Kraus is looking forward to the opportunities students will have to explore the world of live events, especially through events like the Visiting Artist Series.
"It gives students insight into what goes on … in a day of tour. What do these guys do from the moment they wake up to the moment their head hits the pillow again," he said. "I think there's this image that it's just the concert and that's when they're working, and we want to make sure they understand that there's a lot more that goes into it."