Music industry students were able to sit down Nov. 10 to lunch and talk with Drexel University alumnus Howard Benson, a well-known record producer based out of Hollywood. Benson has supported the Music Industry Program at Drexel by offering co-ops, establishing the Howard and Monica Benson Endowed Scholarship Fund for students in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and contributing to the new studios and facilities at Drexel Plaza.
At lunch, music industry students crowded around Benson where he discussed ins and outs of the music industry and his career as a producer. Benson explained his passion for performing, having played keyboard in several bands as a teenager.
“I think I became a producer when I realized I wouldn’t become a rock star,” Benson chuckled.
After lunch, students shifted their seats for a discussion with Howard Benson, moderated by Drexel music industry professor, Ryan Schwabe, regarding shifting recording environments, new technology and its effect on record production today. Benson touched upon the importance of staying ahead in the industry and even thanked his Drexel education in engineering for teaching him that.
Howard Benson is a Drexel alumnus, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering. From there he moved to Los Angeles and has been producing records since the mid-’80s. Benson’s career took off in the mid-’90s and he has produced many big artists such as Motorhead, My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects and Kelly Clarkson. Benson now records and produces solely from West Valley Recording Studios in Woodland Hills, California.
“I realized it paid off,” Benson said. “When Pro Tools came out I had my engineering background and understanding of computers. It gave me about a five-year head start over engineers who were still using tape because it’s what they knew best.”
Pro Tools is the recording industry standard for digital recording software and is used in practically every recording studio.
During the discussion, Benson’s phone buzzed several times, from co-workers on his current project, Three Days Grace’s new album, which Benson hopes will be released before the end of the year. Benson works on his project with a team of people, some of whom graduated from Drexel’s Music Industry Program.
“Everyone who has come and worked for me, full-time or co-op, has never been a dud.” Benson eagerly said to the room of students. “And even if they don’t know what they’re doing, they are always ready to learn and can show their seriousness and passion.”