Guest Professional Day Super Panel

Ricardo Sanchez, GRAMMY Camp LA 2015

Cameras flashed as 72 campers filed into Carson Hall to eagerly and attentively listen to the much anticipated Guest Professional Music Day Panel, where artists such as producer Rob Knox, singer/songwriter Joy Williams and Capital Cities co-front man Ryan Merchant weighed in on their experiences in the music industry and offered advice to aspiring artists. GRAMMY Foundation Vice President, Scott Goldman, moderated the panel and encouraged panelists and campers alike to share their stories and ask questions.

Producer Knox started the panel with answering about his involvement in music during his high school years.  Knox stated that he had no involvement in music outside of passive listening, and was more focused on school and football. It wasn’t until college that he taught himself how to make beats. Knox shared his driving force is his affinity for proving people who doubt him wrong. The GRAMMY-nominated producer also had advice to aspiring artists about seeking a helpful attorney and most of all finding people who aren’t only seeking for their best interests.

Merchant added his story to the discussion, sharing from his involvement in high school garage bands to attending USC, but not pursuing music as a career. Instead, the composer went on to write jingles with Sebu Simonian, whom he met through an ad on craigslist. They formed a musical relationship that would later blossom into commercial success through their project, Capital Cities. Merchant’s key advice was to be open to collaboration and welcome the opportunities to work with others.

Williams was the last of the group to chime in, sharing her story with her beginnings in Christian music and singing at her local church throughout high school. She discussed her involvement in the Civil Wars and her excitement for the release of her upcoming solo album entitled VENUS. Williams had a very important piece of advice to share with up-and-coming artists, to carefully read contracts placed in front of them. The advice was based on personal experience and what she claims was a horrible contract that took many years to get out of.

The panel concluded with questions from the audience, where campers asked the panelists about their creative process and how they reach a point of comfort with exposing themselves when it comes to songwriting. Other questions involved the more business side of the industry such as breaking in, and getting into the jingle business. The panel was cut short due to a lack of time though campers had much more to ask. The campers filed out wide-eyed and inspired.

In the Spotlight

Mikey LaSusa

GRAMMY Camp 2013, 2014, 2015


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