Music Industry Studies Program

MIS StudioMusic Industry Studies (MUSX)

The Music Industry Studies Program at Diablo Valley College is a leader among the California community colleges. DVC was one of the first community colleges to offer electronic music, and houses the state-of-the-art Music Technology Center (MTC). The MTC is a successful, fully networked lab equipped with cross-platform Macintosh and Windows workstations. We are an AVID Learning Partner with several AVID Certified Instructors, ensuring that students will be receiving instructional consistency and up-to-date education.

Mark Steidel, Music Industry Studies program creator, has provided dynamic leadership for the development of the Electronic Music and Recording Arts programs at DVC from their inception. The final results of the new MTC clearly demonstrate a commitment to quality and innovation in teaching and learning experiences. Students gain hands-on learning experiences using software applications that have been developed under true cross-platform equivalency standards.

In addition to Steidel, many of the faculty in the Music Industry Studies program are also award-winning musicians who have received recognition for electronic music, composition, teaching, and performance. The DVC program is highly regarded throughout the community with students recognized in statewide competitions.

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Spring 2016 Course Offerings

Course Offerings

Cubase Reason Pro Tools Ableton Live

(Click on a class to read its description)
MUSX-124 Introduction to Music Production and Multi-Track Recording
This course is designed to give the music student a working knowledge of the principles and techniques of multi-track recording. This course will explore, analyze and evaluate contemporary music production techniques and to apply these techniques to real production and recording situations. Emphasis will be on student involvement with various interrelated roles, including that of studio musician, writer/arranger, producer and sound engineer..

MUSX-125 Advanced Music Production and Multi-Track Recording
This course extends basic practical music production and multi-track recording skills to include complex projects, integration of acoustic and digital recording elements, and use of current computer software in the mixing process.

MUSX-150AV AV Essentials I
This course is a study on the essentials for AV technology specialists. Instruction on the fundamentals of signal flow, rack installation, cable construction, basic low voltage electrical systems, and working with clients will help students prepare for the AV technician certification.

MUSX-172 Introduction to Electronic Music and MIDI
This is an introductory course that provides the foundational skills necessary for the creation of electronic music on a Digital Audio Workstation capable of utilizing MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Students will gain direct hands-on experience with MIDI capable synthesizers, tone generators and samplers, digital signal processors, and computer-based music sequencing software.

MUSX-173 Advanced Electronic Music
This advanced course builds upon the knowledge and technical skills developed in MUSX-172 Introduction to Electronic Music and MIDI. Students will learn to integrate the MIDI and digital audio recording environments and also develop the advanced post production skills needed for employment in the music recording industry. Topics will include digital audio recording and editing, effects processing, mixing, and digital audio file management and conversion, sampling, synthesis, and advanced MIDI sequencing.

MUSX-174 Introduction to Pro Tools
This is an introductory course that will provide the foundational skills to learn and function within the Pro Tools audio production environment. Pro Tools represents a new generation of digital audio workstations that uses the power of personal computers and digital signal processing to record multitrack digital audio directly to hard disk. Topics will include digital multitrack recording, effects processing and digital audio mixing techniques.

MUSX-175 Advanced Pro Tools
This is an advanced course designed for students who are preparing for employment in the music recording industry. Students will work on special production-oriented projects utilizing a Pro Tools capable digital audio workstation (DAW). Working independently and in teams, students will use the recording production tools that they have developed in prior semesters. Topics include acoustic recording, field recording, sound design, sound for picture, control surfaces, use of external signal processors, surround sound, and advanced mixing techniques.

MUSIC-176 Introduction to Ableton Live (Fall)
This course presents skills used within the music production software Ableton Live. Topics will include music sequencing, digital audio recording, software synthesis, sampling, Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), MIDI mapping, virtual effects, automation, signal flow, and mixing.

MUSX-177 Introduction to Reason (Spring)
This course will provide the foundational skills needed to learn and function within the music production environment of Reason. This software application represents a new generation of the stand-alone virtual recording studio. Topics will include music sequencing, digital audio recording, software synthesis and sampling, virtual effects, automation, signal flow, and drum machines.

MUSX-178 Sound for Picture (Spring)
This class examines the topic of sound for picture through a combination of lecture and hands-on experience with a Digital Audio Workstation that is video capable. Students will develop the skill set needed to create soundtracks for film, television, commercials, and video games. Students will learn the three layers of sound for picture: dialog, music, and sound effects including Foley and ambiance. Each of these layers will be discussed and worked on in depth through lab projects.

MUSX-181 Introduction to the Music Industry
This course presents an introduction to the music industry, including its evolution, corporate structure, and legal practices. Topics include record production, music publishing, marketing, use of music in film, television, and advertising, touring, development and implementation of business plan, and career strategies.

MUSX-182 Songwriting I
In this course, students will study the process of songwriting. Songs will be analyzed in terms of chord structure, form, rhythm, melody, harmony, and lyrics. Original compositions and performances will be expected from all students.

MUSX-183 Artist Development in the Music Industry
Students will gain knowledge of the skills and techniques utilized by music industry professionals responsible for the identification, development, and promotion of successful artists. Tools such as identifying talent, building an artist development team, networking, and structuring a cohesive development plan are explored. Career options, such as artist management, A&R, sync & licensing, public relations, and social network promotions will be reviewed. This course is also designed to assist the DIY musician in developing the skills and techniques used in self-management.

MUSX-270 DIY Music Production and Promotion Projects (Spring)
This course provides students the opportunity to work on special production-oriented projects utilizing the college’s internet radio station and record label as a laboratory. Working independently and in teams, students will apply the music production tools and business skills they have developed in prior semesters of the Music Industry Studies program.

MUSX-282 Songwriting II
This course presents the continued study of the structural, rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, and lyrical components of a song. Original compositions and performances are required of all students.

MUSX-295 Occupational Work Experience Education in MUSX
MUSX-295 is supervised employment that extends classroom learning to the job site and relates to the student’s chosen field of study or area of career interest. Under the supervision of a college instructor, students will engage in on-the-job and other learning experiences that contribute to their employability skills and occupational or educational goals. Five hours work per week or seventy-five hours work per term is equal to one unit. Students may earn up to a maximum of sixteen units; repetition allowed per Title 5 Section 55253.

MUSX-296 Internship in Occupational Work Experience Education in MUSX
MUSX-296 is a supervised internship in a skilled or professional level assignment in the student’s major field of study or area of career interest. Under the supervision of a college instructor, students will engage in on-the-job and other learning experiences that contribute to their employability skills and occupational or educational goals. Internships may be paid, non-paid, or some partial compensation provided.

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What is the music industry studies program?

The Diablo Valley College music industry studies program prepares students for a variety of careers in music production, audio engineering, and the business of music. As a music industry studies student, you will gain an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the music production process including recording, marketing, and distribution. This same skill-set will also prepare you for a career in specialized areas of the music industry such as recording engineer, producer, composer, arranger, songwriter, sound designer, artist manager, and marketing representative. The music industry studies program has several unique features:

          • It has a distinctive entrepreneurial focus emphasizing an industry trend toward DIY (Do It Yourself) music production, marketing and distribution via newly emerging Internet based markets.
          • It has a unique program of study that embraces the enormous and continuing changes in music marketing and distribution by allowing students to incubate business concepts with a variety of student-run music businesses.
          • It has a one-of-a-kind music production facility, the Music Technology Center, with 26 Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) as well as a professional multi-track recording studio.our voice poster image
          • It has a music industry partnership with Avid allowing us to provide a range of Pro Tools certification classes.

Why music industry studies?

Those who work in the music industry enjoy an exciting and dynamic career combining a passion for music, artistry, and business know-how. The music industry studies program prepares students for one of the many careers in the music industry including:

  • Careers in music production and engineering: record and mix engineer, mastering engineer, producer, sound design
  • Careers in contemporary music writing and production: composer, arranger, jingle writer, producer/songwriter, lyricist
  • Careers in music business: music publisher, artist manager, public relations, marketing representative, music supervisor and licensing, music marketing
  • Careers in sound for picture: ADR, Foley, production sound mixer, sound designer, film composer, music editor
  • Careers in game audio: game music note tracker and transcriptionist, game music composing and scoring, sound designer, production coordinator
  • Careers in sound reinforcement: front of house engineer, concert sound, monitor mixer

Music Industry Studies Faculty

nick vasalloDr. Nick Vasallo | Program Director

Award-winning composer, sound artist, teacher, vocalist and guitarist, Dr. Nick Vasallo is "a composer on a mission and one possessed of a distinctive voice" (Michael Quinn, The Classical Review, 2012). His music exhibits "strokes of genius that blend the density of heavy metal with the harmonics of gamelan, the polyrhythms of taiko, and atonality," (François Couture, Monsieur Délire, 2012) "…creating new sonic alloys never heard before. Vasallo's work is a fresh music that may help usher in a new audience for classical music." (Daniel L. Muñoz, I Care If You Listen, 2014)

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nick Vasallo began performing music in high school where he picked up the electric guitar and eventually formed Antagony, an influential extreme metal band in the underground. While pursuing a career as a film composer, he decided to begin formal music training at Diablo Valley College as a Music Industry Studies major and transferred to Cal State East Bay where he studied composition and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007. As a Chancellor's Fellow at University of California Santa Cruz, Dr. Vasallo completed his Masters in 2009 and subsequently went on to finish his Doctorate in 2011 as a President's Fellow.

In 2010, Dr. Vasallo was the recipient of the President's Dissertation-Year Fellowship Award – the first arts student to ever receive that honor. Other honors and awards include: The American Prize in Composition 2015, Washington Composers Forum 2015 Award, San Francisco Classical Voice Music Educator Award 2013, International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2011, MACRO Composition 2011 award, San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices 2009 award, The Seattle Pianist Collective 2008 selection, UCSC Student Orchestral Composition 2008 winner, 60×60 project – Pacific Rim Mix 2008-2009 selection, The David Cope Award for Music Composition Excellence 2008, New Jersey International Film Festival 2005 Selection "Sinful" musical score, and CSUEB Student Composers 2005 Competition winner.

Director (and alumnus) of Music Industry Studies at Diablo Valley College and Artistic Director for Composers, Inc., Dr. Vasallo has taught college-level courses in Music Theory, Composition, Digital Audio, Electronic Music, Music Appreciation, Form & Analysis, Counterpoint, Instrumentation, Music Industry, History of Rock & Roll, and Songwriting in addition to his work as a composer and performing artist. He is an Avid Certified Instructor and has previously taught at Cal Poly Pomona, CSU East Bay, UC Santa Cruz, Gavilan College, and Los Medanos College. Dr. Vasallo currently composes, does lead vocals and plays bass for the modern extreme metal band Oblivion. His music is published by Santa Barbara Music Publishers and released by Innova Recordings and Unique Leader.

Read the recent article about Dr. Vasallo in the DVC Inquirer.
Visit his official website for more info.

CLICK HERE to see Dr. Vasallo's current course schedule

Michael Aczon | music business

aczonMichael A. Aczon has been a faculty member at DVC since 1996 teaching music business courses for the Music Industry Studies Program.  Michael brings a unique mix of music industry and educational experience to the courses he teaches, resulting in approaching the study of the music industry with a combination of historical, theoretical, artistic, and practical points of view. 

For over three decades, Michael has practiced entertainment law and personally managed clients at the highest levels of the entertainment industry. As a lawyer, he has represented a variety of clients in virtually every musical genre from local emerging artists to internationally recognized multi-platinum selling artists and successful entertainment companies. Michael has been described in the press as “bright, funny and supremely knowledgeable. He possesses that too rare ability to distill complicated issues of entertainment law and convey them in a clear, storyteller language we all can understand.”

Michael’s book, “The Musician’s Legal Companion” is widely used as a resource by independent musicians and as a textbook in music industry programs. His writing about the music business in publications including Electronic Musician and Guitar Player has guided artists through the evolution of the music industry since the early 1990s. He is frequently published and interviewed in various forms of media about the constantly changing music industry.

Along with being on the DVC faculty, Michael has been a faculty member of the SFSU Music and Recording Industry Program since 1992 and lectured as an adjunct professor teaching Entertainment Law at JFK School of Law and San Francisco Law School. He was an advisory committee member for the inaugural Grammy™ Foundation Entertainment Law Initiative Program, serves on the annual planning committee for the California Lawyers for the Arts Music Business Seminar, and frequently lectures at colleges and music industry seminars about music, business, and society.

CLICK HERE to see Prof. Aczon's current course schedule

Jon Bendich | songwriting, music literature

bendichJon Bendich is currently a teacher at both Diablo Valley College, San Ramon College and at SF State. Jon has also worked for the past thirty years as a percussionist, producer and songwriter in the SF Bay Area. Jon has performed with Tito Puente, George Duke & Stanley Clarke, Robin Ford, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Andy Narrell, The Last Poets, Frank McComb, Lisa Stansfield, MC Hammer, Lenny Williams and Ray Obiedo. Between 1985 - 1989 Jon recorded and performed as a member of The Pete Escovedo Orchestra.

From 1987 - 1992 Jon was signed as a songwriter and co-publisher with Famous Music, then a subsidiary of Paramount Corp.  Jon's catalog contains over 280 songs with more than eighty songs in commercial release. Jon's songs have been recorded by an assortment of R&B and Pop acts including Peabo Bryson (BMG), Larry Graham (Capitol), Walter Beasley (Polygram), Will Clayton (Polygram), Joe Public (Sony), Starpoint (Elektra), Z' Looke (Orpheus/Capitol), Omar Chandler (MCA), Shades of Lace (Wing/Polygram), Street Fare (Atlantic), and Lenny Williams (Fantasy).

Jon has also recorded extensively as a studio musician. Jon can be heard as a featured percussionist on En Vogue's award winning triple platinum album, "Funky Divas," as well as on albums by Jesse Colin Young, Lenny Williams, Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Lady Bianca, Jules Broussard, Carl Lockett, Bill Bell, Lloyd Gregory, Luce, Sakai, and Jenna Mammina.

In 1997 Jon began teaching “Songwriting” at DVC where he has continued to teach the class up to the present time. Also in 1997 Jon began teaching in SF State University’s Music Recording Industry program, teaching such courses as “Popular Music and Cultural Exchange”, “The History and Aesthetics of Record Production”. “The History of the Popular Music Industry”, “The Independent Label from A-Z” and “A&R in The Popular Music Industry”. In 2001 Jon graduated with an MA in Humanities from San Francisco State University.

CLICK HERE to see Prof. Bendich's current course schedule

Doug Michael | digital audio & media

doug michael picDoug Michael is a seasoned composer, guitarist, instrument builder, and educator.  He’s been a regular featured composer on the syndicated TV show “Planet X” since 2010, and scored a Hyundai car commercial narrated by Jeff Bridges.  Doug has had music placements with Sports Illustrated, This Old House and has written music for commercials in Portugal, Turkey, Hungary, Germany, and Canada.  Besides composing for TV, he has written music for Video Games, Film, Theater, the Concert Stage, and the Web, including the 2K Sports video games, All Pro Football 2K8 and NCAA College Hoops.  Doug has won various composition awards and his works have been performed at many music festivals throughout the world, including Hong Kong, Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Europe.  He has enjoyed extensive radio airplay and has CD releases with HyNGE and CMAU along with a solo CD’s entitled ‘Outpost’ and most recently ‘Periphery.’  Mr. Michael's compositions are recorded on Centaur Records, Frog Peak Music, Seeland Records, Aporia Records, Nebula Productions, and Angular Momentum CDs.  His music can be purchased through iTunes and CD Baby and streams from Pandora and Spotify.  Doug is also a Recording Arts Instructor in the Music Technology Center at Diablo Valley College and Ohlone College in Northern California.

To hear his latest music release ‘Periphery’:

To see and hear some of Doug’s Music placements:

CLICK HERE to see Prof. Michael's current course schedule

Piper Payne | recording technology

lewisPiper Payne is a Mastering Engineer at Coast Mastering, Northern California's premier mastering facility, where she works on albums for independent artists and major labels. She is the President of the SF Chapter of the Recording Academy and serves on the P&E Wing Steering Committee and the P&E Wing Advisory Council. She is also on the committee of the AES SF Chapter and an active member of the Women's Audio Mission. Piper is an audio professor and guest lectures often about mastering and recording.

Piper has mastered music for many artists, including Madame (Kiran) Gandhi, Sioux City Kid, Fritz Montana, Beautiful Machines, Battlehooch, Headlander (video game), Emily Afton, Psychic Twin, Alexis Harte, Deer Park Avenue, Tumbleweed Wanderers, Abbot Kinney, American Lions, Alta View, Bed., Stalin, Travis Hayes, Vela Eyes, Higuera, Hundredth, New Diplomat, Brendan McCreary, Crashing Hotels, D Edward, Eagle Wolf Snake, Moetar, Bad Form, Gardens, The Boys After, Sabertooth Zombie, Mars Today, Makeunder, MC Rai, Owl Paws, Gay Paris, Real Numbers, Shawna Virago.

CLICK HERE to see Prof. Payne's current course schedule

Gino Robair | digital audio

robairGino Robair has created music for dance, theater, radio, television, silent film, and gamelan orchestra, and his works have been performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan. He was composer in residence with the California Shakespeare Festival for five seasons and served as music director for the CBS animated series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. His commercial work includes themes for the MTV and Comedy Central cable networks.

Robair is also one of the "25 innovative percussionists" included in the book Percussion Profiles (SoundWorld, 2001). He has recorded with Tom Waits, Anthony Braxton, Terry Riley, Lou Harrison, John Butcher, Derek Bailey, Peter Kowald, Otomo Yoshihide, the ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and Eugene Chadbourne, among many others. In addition, Robair has performed with John Zorn, Nina Hagen, Fred Frith, Eddie Prevost, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, and the Club Foot Orchestra.

Robair is a founding member of the Splatter Trio and the heavy-metal band, Pink Mountain. In addition, he runs Rastascan Records, a label devoted to creative music.

CLICK HERE to see Prof. Robair's current course schedule

Tim White | Pro Tools, digital audio & media

whiteTim White is an award-winning composer, musician, music technologist and teacher with a broad range of experience in the music industry as recording engineer, producer, record label owner, acoustic researcher and recording studio designer with an MFA in Electronic Music and Recording Arts from Mills College.

San Francisco Bay Area native Tim White performed classical and blues guitar as a teenager. After studying composition in Rome and London, a fateful encounter with Master Indian sarod player Ali Akbar Khan led him into a three-decade long in-depth study of North Indian Classical music. As an accomplished sitar player Tim White has performed and taught nationally and internationally.

"White's musical performances have left his audiences with a lasting appreciation for the beauty and depth of classical Indian music. His joyful creativity and commitment to his art is apparent in every brilliant performance."
(India Currents Magazine, July 1997)

Mr. White’s albums Morning Song, Evening Song (top 10, NAR radio charts 2005) and Inhale Slowly (top 10 ZMR international radio charts 2011) have achieved critical acclaim. Inhale Slowly (, a collaboration with Joe Paulino, was also the recipient of ZMR’s Best New Artist award, 2012. The album, on which Tim White plays several different instruments (including sitar, flutes, guitar, esraj) blended together in gorgeous, meditative, musical themes, is not only a testament of his excellent and versatile musicianship and compositional ideas, but also of his highly refined skills as recording engineer.

“The veteran production values of Joe Paulino, coupled with the amazing musicianship of Tim White fooled my experienced ears! I thought this was a room full of musicians! Recurring musical themes and excellent mixing make this listenable time after time!”
Robin Yeager, Audio producer and engineer, Tres Virgos studio [George Benson, Stuart   Copeland,
Kenny G, David Grisman, Van Morrison, and more]).

“Luminous! Highly recommended for anyone who wants to deepen their meditation with music.”
Patricia Ellsberg, Social change activist, meditation teacher and life coach, pioneer.)

As an audio engineer and music producer Tim White has collaborated on Suzanne Tedeschi’s & Derek Trucks’ recent Grammy winning blues album Revelator, and has recorded Ali Akbar Khan’s Grammy nominated albums Legacy (with Bollywood singer Asha Bosle) and Passing on the Tradition.

Tim White is also the owner and, with fellow musician and long-time friend Jack Gates, co-founder of WhiteGates Publishing/ WhiteGates Music – BMI. (

For the last fourteen years Mr. White has devoted himself to teaching at Diablo Valley College, and his classes in the Music Industry Studies department have become very popular among the students, not only because of his excellent teaching methods and vast knowledge and experience, but also because of his commitment to helping students achieve their goals.

As a certified Pro Tools Expert Instructor he introduced Pro Tools classes at Diablo Valley College, starting in 2001, created the curricula for MUSX 174 Intro to Pro Tools and MUSX 175 Advanced Pro Tools, and later pioneered fee-based courses at DVC offering Pro Tools Certification classes, which now include PT 101, PT 110 (User certification), PT 201, PT210M (Operator certification), PT310M (Expert certification) and PT130 Game Audio.

Mr. White also created the MUSX 270 Applied Projects in Music Industry Studies, the first upper-division course offered in the Music Industry Studies program. This class launched KDVC.ORG, our own Internet radio station, featuring 100% original music from DVC students, and Duck Pond Records, which has released several CDs, whose sales help support the MIS program. MUSX 270 has also produced yearly Music Industry Studies benefit concerts, whose proceeds also help support MIS.

Tim White has also initiated student internships at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley and is currently working on expanding internship opportunities with other major studios and Music Industry related businesses throughout the Bay Area.

CLICK HERE to see Prof. White's current course schedule

Bill Wolter | digital audio & media

wolterBill Wolter is a composer, guitarist, audio engineer, and sound educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He composes music for film, games, and modern dance. His music is inspired by the sounds of jazz, classical new music, film music, progressive rock, and experimental music. He composes a diverse range of musical styles and instrumentations focused on the intersection of rock and new music. His main musical project is Inner Ear Brigade (IEB), an ensemble that plays a mix of progressive rock, avant jazz, and classical new music. A restless collaborator who seeks the most diverse and challenging musical experiences, Bill performs and collaborates frequently with a wide range of musicians, bands, improvisers, and choreographers. As a sound designer, Bill has worked on musical games such as Guitar Hero, Tap Tap Revenge, as well as several films from shorts to feature lengths. Bill is also a passionate educator teaching music and audio at Diablo Valley College, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, and The Art Institute of California, San Francisco.

CLICK HERE to see Prof. Wolter's current course schedule

Mark Steidel | Program Creator

Steidel HeadshotMark Steidel has devoted nearly three decades to a teaching career that is marked by quality and innovation. He is recognized as a builder of programs. He has been influential at the instructional, departmental, and campus levels and has been a creative force in setting high instructional standards in both traditional academic and vocational education programs. Through leadership and collaboration he has played a key role in the development of the technology infrastructure and of new technology programs at Diablo Valley College. He currently coordinates the Music Industry Studies program at DVC where he teaches Introduction to Electronic Music and MIDI. He received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of Oregon and received his Master of Arts in Music Composition from Mills College. He owns a production company with credits in digital audio & video recording, film, and advertising.

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Music Catalog

We encourage you to take a music course. We have a course for everyone. To search the course schedule, click here. If you are a NEW student, it often takes a little time. Please contact office of admissions or one of the music faculty for help.



DVC Music Department has a wide range of scholarships available for students participating in our musical each semester. Please fill out an application, or see your ensemble director for more infomation. (Coming Soon)

Contact Us

For more information about our Music Industry Studies program, please contact Dr. Nick Vasallo at (925) 969-2705. or by email, Ask a question?