Content Skip to content.
San Diego State University

@State Newsletter header

The Aztec Music Group


Aztec Music Group with logo

The recording industry is constantly evolving. With fresh ideas needed to meet the challenges of the music business in the digital age, new talent is always in high demand. That’s why for the past two years, the Aztec Music Group (AMG) has worked tirelessly to organize speaking engagements with music industry leaders and offer opportunities for students to connect with others that share their passions.

“The Aztec Music Group is for anybody interested in and passionate about music,” said AMG president Anthony Lee. “It’s a space for students to go after their dreams, whether that’s working in entertainment or performing live at shows. Artists, generalists, marketers, app-makers -- anyone who wants to make their career about the music industry, we’re here for them.”

But as Dr. Tita Gray, AMG advisor and Assistant Dean for the College of Business, can tell you, working in entertainment isn’t all fun and games.

“It’s a volatile industry and that’s what I want students to walk away with,” Gray said. “The industry is not glamorous. People work long and hard hours, a lot of times foregoing their personal lives. Just because you work with an artist and even if that artist turns out to be famous or you’re making a good salary, the industry requires that you give up a lot of personal time.”

Beginning in the late 1980's, Gray worked with record labels like Sleeping Bag, Elektra, and Capitol Records before moving on to MCA Music Publishing and finally starting her own management company. From her experience in the music world, Gray wants students to know that while the rewards may be alluring, such work brings plenty of challenges as well.

“Not everybody is going to look out for your best interests, so if you really want to do it, make sure this is something you want to do. You can only learn it by hearing from these people about the sacrifices that they’ve made and by getting internships in the industry to experience it for yourself.”

Thanks to the approval of a grant earlier this year through the CSU Entertainment Initiative, the AMG has had the chance to hear directly from industry leaders about this fast-paced business. The CSU Entertainment Initiative provides funding to student groups through grants to put on educational events as well as a web portal to find internships related to the entertainment industry at large. While the CSU Entertainment Initiative has funded programs at SDSU in the past, this was the first time a grant has been awarded to the Aztec Music Group.

Photography by Sara Says Photography

On February 23, the CSU Entertainment Initiative’s grant allowed the AMG to invite a panel of guest speakers to Montezuma Hall that included Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, Reza Sarrafieh of Interscope Records, Dave Curtin of the Disney Music Group and Deirdre McCready of Live Nation. Both Curtin and McCready are alumni of San Diego State.

One of the biggest takeaways from the panel was that being supportive and kind goes a long way in making connections and building and maintaining relationships, key aspects to standing out in one of the most competitive fields in the world. After giving out his email to the crowd, Kevin Lyman addressed how he got ahead in such a cutthroat industry.

“Don’t meet people expecting anything; just be nice,” Lyman said. “Warped Tour happened because I was nice for 13 years.”

His panelmate, Reza Sarrafieh of Interscope Records, concurred.

“It’s (about) the ability to relate to people, the ability to handle relationships and follow up. It’s about getting to know the right people and making relationships,” Sarrafieh said. “It’s who you know, but it’s also how you know them.”

Photograph by Sara Says Photography

AMG president Anthony Lee was overwhelmed with the positive reception that the event received. “We got a very welcome response, a lot of people thanked us for putting it on. There’s an appetite here. We’re starting small and starting the structure and foundation to leave a lasting legacy on campus.”

While the AMG hopes to continue hosting events with the help of the CSU Entertainment Initiative, the recent release of their student-created album, The Backdoor, is a sign of things to come. One of the long-term goals for the organization includes empowering musicians at San Diego State by establishing a recording studio on-campus with the help of Associated Students. For now, Lee says that the plan is to make sure as many AMG members as possible know what it’ll take to keep them moving forward toward their dreams.

“What have you done?” he asked. “Have you shown up every day? Have you volunteered? Have you gone the extra mile?”

With enough dedication and perseverance, Lee knows that the Aztec community has plenty of local talent available for the entertainment industry to continue its strong presence in southern California.


Interested in joining the Aztec Music Group? Visit for more information.