How does one take their love of music and turn it into a career? People often wait until they have an internship at a company to officially kick start their career in the entertainment industry – but what if you could have a voice in the music before any of that? We’re all music fans first right? Gone are the days where gatekeepers run every aspect of our business and barriers to entry are getting better each day. Do you want to work for your favorite artist? How about starting a fan account that ultimately gets their team’s attention? Do you want to start a record label or at least start working with artists? The possibilities are real and we wanted to showcase people who have done it as students to show you what you could be capable of!
Chuka Chase (Founder/CEO) is a Nigerian-born American who at 18, co-founded Worldwix, a startup that allowed customers to donate a portion of their purchases to charity (akin to Amazon Smile). The launch of his first business venture, coupled with the death of his inspirational hero, Steve Jobs, motivated Chuka to dropout of college.
Following a soft landing from WorldWix, Chuka became an active member in the startup scene by producing tech events in San Francisco and Boston with Empirical. He began designing and building websites / apps for several Boston based startup including the now exited unicorn Drizly. After a stint in London with Techstars, he moved to LA to continue work with Techstars a la the Disney Accelerator. During this time he also became Donald Glover’s (Childish Gambino) technical director.
After his time at Disney, Chuka started Integral Studio with Megh Vakharia in August 2016. Together, they pushed the boundaries of tech through projects like the first music video release (Big Sean & Migos) through Augmented Reality, the first digital sales merch bundles (Travis Scott) and the first 3D merch experiences (Trippie Redd). They cofounded Symphony in 2021 where the goal is to shift the industry at scale.
Claudia Villarreal launched her career by cultivating a community of like-minded fans around the world through online and in-person activations via a One Direction fan account that had 200K+ followers at its prime. Claudia has had 10+ years of working across music touring, fan engagement, and artist management. Her most notable work includes: working as a Superfan Coordinator for the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards with Dick Clark Productions, working as a VIP tour host for 3 years with VIP Nation and CID Entertainment, where she eventually went on tour as a VIP representative. After touring she dove into artist management where she worked as the Community and Engagement Manager at KYN Entertainment to grow an audience from scratch to over 2M+ for up and coming girl group, Boys World.
Helen Showalter dropped out of her sophomore year of college to work at Crowd Surf 8 years ago. During her time there, she’s managed the social strategy of award winning artists (Backstreet Boys, Fifth Harmony) and built the digital footprint and fandom for the next generation of stars (Kim Petras, Why Don’t We, Jenna Raine).
Helen now manages short form vertical pioneer Loren Gray, Republic Records’ Catie Turner, and the artist most likely to make you call your therapist, Leanna Firestone.
Lyndsey Havens is a senior editor at Billboard and co-host of SiriusXM’s weekly show, Billboard Live. She has written cover stories on artists including Billie Eilish, Kesha, Post Malone and Lil Yachty, has reported live from the Grammys red carpet and loves covering all things vinyl.