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Composing Her Way to Success: Catching Up with Alumna Asha Iwanowicz

Asha Iwanowicz, CAMD alumna

CAMD alumna Asha Iwanowicz, who graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Music Technology in 2012, has always known that her passion is to compose music, and that she wanted to incorporate this into her career. Whether it be for movies, video games, advertisements, television or stage, she has always been drawn to the fundamental act of composing, sound design and performing. Since graduating five years ago, Asha has proven that it is possible to combine your passions and interests with a successful career – and enjoy every minute of doing so.

Post-graduation, Asha initially moved to the San Francisco Bay area to work as a music intern at Sony PlayStation, where she worked on game music and utilized the skills she had learned from Northeastern to navigate day-to-day tasks. Now, she is back on the east coast, thriving as the composer/production coordinator for MassiveMusic in New York City, which she joined three years ago. According to Asha, this position has been the perfect blend of skills and expertise that she has gained from her Northeastern classes and through her past internships.

Although MassiveMusic creates original music for all types of media, Asha focuses mainly on music for advertising. Regarding her projects, she explained that the music she creates can be fast-paced and interesting with abrupt dynamic changes within a span of 30 seconds – sometimes 60 or 90, but most advertisements stick with 30 seconds.

“It’s a fast turnover! That excites me because I get to create so many different types of music and very quickly, so it’s forced me to learn and improve fast,” said Asha of her bustling workload.

Moreover, Asha manages large portions of the production work, including gathering materials to send out to clients, mixing music to picture, and editing music. The rest of her time is spent working on odds and ends jobs, such as sound design and music searches for licensing, which she admits makes her think of herself as a musical “jack of all trades.”

By far her proudest work has been composing music for an iOS app/mobile game called The Snow Fox for AKQA, which animates its story as a child reads along out loud.

The Snow Fox trailer with music by Asha Iwanowicz

“My music was used for the main trailer and in the game. I really loved the work I did for it and I think the music suits it perfectly.” Asha added, “I believe it’s still downloadable!”

Regarding Asha’s time at Northeastern, she notes that although she entered as a composer already, she learned the fundamentals of production through the Digital Audio Workstations. It was through her Music Technology courses that she learned the necessary skills to pursue her passions in the professional world.

“It’s why I chose the Music Technology major. I knew if I wanted to get my music out there I would need to learn how all this technology works and how I can use it to make music on my own. That is the core foundation of the program and I believe students can take what they learn and apply it how they see fit,” Asha explained. “The composition classes were just as important because they made me a stronger composer, but the key to music now is being on top of new technology and what it can do. Those two factors working in tandem is why it’s such a powerful program.”

Asha also works on commissioned pieces, though she acknowledges that she’s less likely to undertake them since working full-time at MassiveMusic. She originally honed her freelance composing abilities in college by writing pieces for the Northeastern Wind Ensemble in her free time. Knowing the musicians and the Northeastern audience helped her gain confidence and expertise as a freelance composer. Currently, beyond her busy composer/production coordinator job, she has composed for a few short films and plans to write for one this upcoming fall!

“It’s always a good idea to build a network of content creators because you never know when a director friend will need some music for their film!” Asha advised. “That’s how I’ve found the projects I’ve worked on in the past. It’s all about making and maintaining relationships with other creatives.”

Asha Iwanowicz, having fun in the “office”

In direct reference to music professionals helping each other, Asha has actually aided in coordinating a co-op position for Northeastern students with MassiveMusic that begins in January! The position emphasizes a flexibility that caters to the co-op student’s needs and desires as an aspiring professional in the music industry. The position includes basic music cataloging, but it can also expand to composition and music supervision. The students will also be helping her team work on any current projects.

“We’re mainly looking for hungry students that want to learn about music in media. I’d say any prospective intern should be interested in learning more about composition (and sound design!), music supervision and advertising,” said Asha.

Asha’s goal has always been a career in music and composition, but through her courses at Northeastern she has immersed herself into the production and sound design behind composition. Her drive to perform, create and learn has given her opportunities to build a career out of music.

She explained that her career passions are ultimately fueled by her love for music.

“Music has the ability to make you feel a certain way or make you remember something – it can instantly set a mood or create a world. Music is a powerful communicator and for me it’s always been a way to express my emotions.”

As a parting word for current CAMD students, Asha advises them to “stay hungry, stay driven, network and don’t be afraid to reach out to people even if it’s just to say hello. If you have passion and can take criticism and learn, you’ll get there!”