Alumni Profile: Dave Fraser '91
After Berklee, music synthesis major Dave Fraser '91 did a little bit of everything: touring with a rock band, delivering pizza, giving piano lessons, and composing for a production facility. Then he and fellow Berklee alumnus Neil Goldberg '91 decided to hang their own shingle out. Now the two own both a production company and a music software company, and they have a lot of hard-won knowledge to pass on to the interns they employ.
How did Heavy Melody Music come about?
My partner Neil Goldberg ('91) and I moved to New York over 10 years ago and were working for an existing music house doing a lot of commercial advertising. After almost five years, we decided to open Heavy Melody Music & Sound Design, Inc. When you're working for someone else you tend to give a lot of what you make to the house. We also wanted to diversify our offerings. The company that we were working for was just strictly doing commercial advertising. It was a really narrow channel of creativity. Now six years later Heavy Melody is still standing tall, surviving the worst economy we've had in all of our lifetimes, and we're forging ahead with great new projects. We have a lot of great opportunities because we've diversified. We're working on every front that you can imagine, from video games to commercial advertising to television, series programming, underscores, even working with artists. We started a second company called Heavyocity Media and created our own software virtual instrument called Evolve. We've used it as a vehicle to grow our core business, which is doing the creative stuff. It's exciting to have our hands in a lot of different baskets.
How many people do you have at the company?
There is a total of four of us. Neil and I own the two companies and we have two other composer/sound designers. We also have interns at the studio as well.
Any Berklee interns?
Jon Schwarz was an intern over the summer; he's a junior. He was great. He started coming in a few days a week, and he ended up pulling a lot of sound design elements for us when we were working on a particular gaming product. He's a trombone player, so we also got him in the recording booth creating strange sounds with his trombone. He really enjoyed being part of the production process, and I think it was an eye-opener for him to see that there really are no rules. You just do whatever you feel is right to accomplish the goal.
It seems like a great networking opportunity.
Getting these networking opportunities through internships is very important, but it's key to take everything you can from the experience. The hardest part of moving forward when you're done with school is having the courage to confront the fear of putting yourself out there. A lot of interns are really shy and afraid to overstep, but if you can show initiative and provide opportunity—if you are a real star—I can almost guarantee that you'll have a future. If you've got something special to offer and show a real determination and drive, we'll find a way to work together, whether you're freelancing or you're part of the fold here. The two other creatives at HM, Mark and Ari, both started as interns.
How did your Berklee education help you get where you are today?
I met Neil—one of my best friends and my business partner—at Berklee in the first week I was there, and we literally formed a lifelong friendship and brotherhood. I was there because I knew what I wanted to do, I was focused, and I didn't take it for granted. The school helped facilitate developing the tools I would need to work in this industry. It's a really tough one to break into. The education that I got from Berklee was invaluable, because it allowed me to be "okay" with not necessarily being the best player or composer. In the end, Berklee taught me that with some solid fundamentals under your belt and a creative vision, you can develop a strategy to be successful in the industry.
I'm co-owner of two successful companies, and that's something I couldn't have dreamed of back during my Berklee days. I believe my hard work and perseverance are to thank for it, but I also have a solid Berklee education that I draw upon. I think being at Berklee and knowing that I had to work and practice hard while taking full advantage of its resources helped elevate my vision and my goals. That was a big part of me getting to where I am now.