Villanovan living musical dream

Elissa Vallano

All those interested in pursuing a career in the music industry know an enormous challenge awaits them. In a field as competitive as music, it seems impossible to believe that a young kid fresh out of college could have a chance in such a cut-throat business. On the contrary, that is a reality for one of our own. Matt Burnett, a senior at Villanova, has broken down the doors of the music industry and is paving the way for all of the determined young people determined to do the same.

Elissa Vallano: Did you grow up in Los Angeles?Matt Burnett: I grew up in Orange County – like the movie, but it’s nothing like that. I’ve lived in the same house my entire life. It’s a New England-style house with a white picket fence and everything, right in the middle of Southern California.

EV: Was music always a major part of your life?MB: Well, I started to play piano when I was 3 years old, and even though I stopped at 12, from then on I was always learning about music, playing music and listening to music. It was never something I really thought about, it’s just music was always there.

EV: What bands inspired you to make music your life?MB: It changes with age. When I was little, Michael Jackson was my hero, but now I just feel bad for the guy because he never grew up and he’s whacked out. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was my first album, and I listened to it over and over. Radiohead is like number one. Pearl Jam, Jeff Buckley, Weezer and Led Zeppelin were major influences. I like all kinds of music, but those bands really changed the way I thought about music. There’s music that doesn’t just sound good, it actually takes you somewhere else. My list of bands keeps going forever. Asking what my favorite music is is hard, because it’s like, what time of the day is it?

EV: When did you decide to start a record label?MB: It was Josh’s [from Something Corporate] idea to start the label. Even though he was in the band, it was something he really wanted to do. I could see how serious he was about it, so when Josh asked me to help him out I said yes. There was another guy involved with it in the beginning, but he couldn’t commit to the time and all of the responsibility that came along with running a label, so it’s just me and Josh. We have been friends for eight years, but most importantly, we think the same way about music. We know what moves us and what is valuable. We started our label during the spring of last year, and we have one band signed, and we have three others on the way. Because all of the money is coming out of our pockets, it takes longer than labels who started out with a lot of money. Our label has its own official website at

EV: You’ve been friends with the guys from Something Corporate for a while, so how do you feel about their success and new rock stardom?MB: It creeps me out, but in a cool way. It’s just really weird to be talking to one of them on the phone, then turn on the TV and see them. It wasn’t too long ago when I knew everyone at their concerts. Josh and I have been best friends for years, and I met the rest of the guys in the band through him. I’m actually on the track “Mulligan Goes To War” from their first album, listed next to the cellist and violinist. Here are these professional musicians, and I’m under “inspired shouting.” I used to head their street team and host their website. I got to know a lot of fans because of that, and I’ve seen their fan base grow, across the country, to Europe and Japan. Before, if people on the East Coast new about them it was because I told them, and now three years later they’re huge. It’s so great for them because they’ve worked hard for it. I always thought they were great, and now it’s like everyone else is catching on too.

EV: What are your plans after you graduate?MB: I’ll be working at MCA Records. I interned there, that’s Something Corporate’s record label. Then I’m going to just keep running the label, doing the music thing.

EV: Is there any advice you can give to those pursuing a career in the music industry?MB: Most importantly is who you know, so be persistent with getting to know people. You just have to be a squeaky wheel, basically. Send lots of e-mails and make lots of calls just to get to know people. It’s a buddy system, favors for favors. If someone wants to start a record label, they have to be in it 100 percent. It can’t be because of the money, because you won’t be making much, it has to be about the music. And you have to be patient, because a lot of doors won’t be opened to you, but then they come, and you feel wonderful.