NYU's Future Music Moguls program aims at diversifying industry

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- In the music business, this past Tuesday was designated #BlackoutTuesday, described as a chance to "provoke accountability and change by disconnecting from work and reconnecting with the community."

It comes at a time when record companies have come under criticism for a lack of diversity in their executive suites and boardrooms.

That's what a program called Future Music Moguls is designed to address. The high school students who participate in the 14-week course are pioneers in a business that has been closed to them for too long -- young women learning how to make music behind the scenes at this free workshop run by New York University.

"Our goal is to really show them that you can build a sustainable career out of this," instructor Chris Wade said.

The focus is on professions where the industry is made up predominantly of white males.

"There is some changing of the guard, but it's still very slow," he said. "So our goal is to bring in people in from a diverse, diverse groups, and particularly women."

That includes young women like 17-year-old high school junior, Angelyse Estevez, from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, who has just produced her first song and created a music video with her fellow students.

"I knew almost nothing about the music business at all, and now I kind of feel like I know so much already," she said.

She also feels like the music business is more welcoming to somebody like her than it might've been five or ten years ago.

"Oh, 100%," she said.

The home of the program is a new recording studio in Brooklyn named after the legendary music mogul, Clive Davis, and Estevez said she felt like, "a kid in a candy store," when she first stepped inside.

Unfortunately, she and the other students got to spend just one single day there before their quarantine began.

"I was shocked and I was sad, but I wanted to continue with this program even if it meant that I was going to be at home," she said. "Because I felt I was learning so much valuable material."

She and her partners completed their work virtually, with student Hunter McKendry telling her instructors, "We had to problem solve ourselves, which was really beneficial."

Watching them FaceTime and Zoom their way to making a record gives me hope, especially after I asked Estevez if she could have anticipated any of this.

"I definitely did not feel I would have any of these challenges," she said. "And it did make me feel that I need to kind of work on what I want to do with my life."

A future music mogul? Maybe. But for now, Estevez is a young person with a purpose -- and a drive -- and a desire to succeed.

Thanks to Future Music Moguls and NYU, she says she has "a new confidence that I can do this."

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