How to be halfaware and make it in the music industry


Carter Soyer, Staff

When you see Anthony Awoleye walking around campus, the first thing you might notice is how he’s simply trying to survive his shift as an on-campus security officer. However, if you take a closer look, you will discover that he has much more going on. Anthony has melodies and memories swarming in his head to create his next musical masterpiece, as his career is starting to take off. 

Awoleye fell in love with music at an early age. He remembers listening to his older brother’s rap music, which he enjoyed, but at the time he was only eight. So, he didn’t quite understand what a musical connection to lyrics or sound pieces meant.  

One day, while he was on the internet, he discovered music on his own that would change him for the better. As soon as Awoleye discovered Blink-182, the music had him in a trance. “At eight I found Blink-182 on the internet which was the first music that I liked for myself that wasn’t pressured by other people,” said Awoleye. He listened to a short, 8-20 second clip of their music non-stop for two days. Luckily, he soon got their album so he could study their music and he could listen for more than 20 seconds at a time.  

Being a songwriter is not easy and Awoleye understands this firsthand. A musician can’t expect to put out a song and then just sit back and have crowds of people coming. It’s quite the opposite. A musician must connect with people, so they actively listen. Additionally, for many artists, there is a lot of fear when it comes to releasing music or anything they’ve created because it’s a part of who they are. So, any criticism can feel very personal.

“A lot of it is hard to explain. When you do something you’re very passionate about like making a song and [audience members] just do nothing but talk over your song, that is one of the most defeating feelings …It’s like if an artist painted the Mona Lisa and someone just walked by and was like, ‘That’s cool,’ then just kept walking by. It’s a very defeating feeling when you put so much more into it and I got that feeling for over a decade,” Awoleye said.  

Assistant Professor of Music Production, Aaron Eastwood said, “As one of my colleagues says, ‘When you start getting negative comments it means, hey, at least people are listening.’ In some ways, having some negative comments is better than having zero comments because at least people are listening to your stuff. I think with any art form or really anything that people do, we’re always hesitant to put ourselves out there especially if it’s something we’re really proud of. You have to have a little bit of thick skin in this industry.”

Eastwood recalled his first-time meeting Awoleye as a very positive experience. “The very first time I met Anthony, it was on one of my early visits to the campus,” he said. “The dean was giving me a tour of the campus in general, and… because he’s actually a security guard…on campus…, he was on his rounds…and we ran into him, so we had a little conversation… heck of a nice guy. He seemed very enthusiastic about everything he was doing and about the program and very excited to have a new music production professor. So, it was a really positive interaction.” 

One of Awoleye’s great musician skills is that he likes to collaborate. Awoleye has been able to create so many partnerships because of his kindness. Kindness pays off in the music industry because people will want to work with you more if you are pleasant to work with.  

“I think there’s a point at which somebody who’s really good at their craft might be passed over in favor of someone who isn’t quite as skilled, but they have good soft skills,” Eastwood said. “You know you don’t get employed if you’re not good. So, everybody’s good…then it comes done to those little intangibles. Who do the producers, directors, or artists like working with? That’s where your soft skills are going to come into play.”  

Even though there may be many insecurities and uncertainties with releasing music, Awoleye has managed to overcome this fear and pursue his passion. He has released and promoted his own music on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, and Instagram. What genre does his music fit into? To that Awoleye smiled and said “DIY.” Then he added that he is continuing to experiment and that he doesn’t want to be categorized. His experimentation translates to bravery as he shares his work. And sharing can help a musician make things really happen. “When you start to make things happen, that tone switches and they start listening,” Awoleye said.  

With the release of several original songs through Spotify and other platforms, Awoleye is starting to make things happen and now he is seeing evidence of his success. Not long ago he received an offer from a recording studio in Germany to do an internship. According to Awoleye, the internship happened for several reasons, not the least of which was help from people on campus.  First, he said that Dixee Bartholomew-Feis, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, sent him an email about a program that runs music industry internships.  He applied and learned that he needed a resume, but he didn’t have one. Mandy Mollring, Director of Career & Leadership Development on campus, helped him one day to get it done. As he was writing it, Awoleye realized all the amazing opportunities he had gotten and his experience within the music industry. Two days after he sent it, Awoleye got the news he was accepted. 

“I never thought I’d get an opportunity to go to Germany. It kinda all just worked out because I am working with a label in Germany with friends. One of them owns a label, one is a producer who introduced me to his manager, and now I’m gonna go meet them,” Awoleye said.  

For those interested in listening to Awoleye’s music search Halfaware on Spotify, a professional identity he took at age 19.