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ETC sings success with music industry panel

by: Holly Johnson

ETC sings success with music industry panel

(From left to right) Colin Yost, brian Escobar, Katherine Phan and Zaynab Alhakawati discussed the music industry (Photo credit: Courtesy of ETC)

Cal State Fullerton’s (CSUF) Entertainment and Tourism Club (ETC) hosted a professionals-packed music industry panel for students on Nov. 8 in Titan Student Union’s Titan Theatre. The panel, which lasted from 7-9 p.m., greeted approximately 80 students eager to gain first-hand insight into what a career in music entails. 

ETC invited four music professionals across various areas of the industry. The attendees included Colin Yost, a director of gaming partnerships and soundtracks from Sony Music Entertainment; Brian Escobar, a music coordinator at Wasserman; Katherine Phan, a commercial marketing coordinator at Capitol Records; and Zaynab Alhakawati, an operations and marketing coordinator from Universal Music Group. 

Proudly, the panel boasted three CSUF alums. Escobar graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s in communications; Phan graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s in business; and Alhakawati graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s in communications. 

From the beginning of the panel, the chemistry and shared respect between the panelists was evident from their repartee and friendliness towards each other. This, plus their ease of being on stage, set the panel up for success from the get-go. 

Escobar answered his first question to further set the reverent mood: “Music has the power to bring people of different colors, different walks of life, and different religions together for ninety minutes at a time.”

ETC sings success with music industry panel

Approximately 80 students filled the Titan Theatre to learn more about the music industry from the panelists (Photo credit: Courtesy of ETC)


As soon as an appreciation for music and concerts was vocalized among the panelists, the moderating of the panel began.
One aspect of the panel that surprised all attendees was the nonchalant celebrity name-dropping provided by each panelist. Granted, a career in the music industry isn’t always glamorous, but working on a famous artist’s campaign can be surreal. 

For example, Yost shared with the group that he could go to composer John Williams' house while working at Sony to interview him about his career. For context, John Williams famously composed scores for blockbuster films such as Star Wars , Jaws and Indiana Jones

To top that, Phan shared that she recently worked on the campaign for the last Beatles song, “Now and Then.” Collaborating between Capitol Records UK and The Beatles corporation, Apple Corp, Phan worked on the project confidentially for three months. 

With anything, while the job's perks can be amazing, some challenges can be complex to deal with. According to Alhakawati, it can be disheartening within the industry when you are overlooked repeatedly. When you are new, learning how to advocate for yourself takes time, but it is a critical skill. 

“You have to let yourself be uncomfortable to learn,” Alhakawati commented. 

Yost discussed other challenges within the industry, saying that although disagreements with other people are common, you must be able to navigate each situation with empathy and emotional intelligence. Controlling how you respond to conflict is what defines you. 

As the panel wrapped up, final advice was offered by the panelists. 

“Do whatever you can do to move forward,” Phan stated.

Phan also urged attendees to take the initiative and talk to people. Being open to different kinds of experiences will advance you in the industry, but seizing those opportunities that come your way is the most important. 

The panel portion of the evening was followed by an intimate networking session between the panelists and paid ETC members. Keep an eye out for ETC’s spring 2024 semester by following their Instagram: @ csuf_etc