Greetings everyone. My name is Joe Musser, and I am a returning student to FSU (it was FSC the last time I attended class here!). I was a former resident student living in Larned, and an even an RA in Towers. Originally, I was a Political Science major when I first enrolled, however, as my courses progressed, I found myself spending a great deal more time in the computer labs and the WDJM radio station. Currently, I am a Liberal Studies Major, with concentrations in Computer Science, History, and Communication. Since leaving school in 1997, I have had a 20 year career in Information Technology, beginning with working for EMC as an Analyst during their early peak years.
From EMC, I took my experience to work for Boston Scientific in their Network Operations Center (NOC) for a short, 1 year contract, and as the tech boom started the demand for skilled IT personnel skyrocketed, and I began my journey in the world of startups with a fledgling E-Commerce development company called Event Zero. Hired as employee #30, and one of the two principal Technical Operations Engineers, we were able to grow and build the business from 30 to over 300 people in 18 months. We had expanded from Boston to San Francisco and New York City in that time, and raised over $30MM in capital to fund the business. Our company had been building large scale websites for clients like Barnes & Noble, CBS, Brainshark, and a host of others. Unfortunately, our company’s business model was inextricably linked to the VC’s that funded all of these startups during this era, and as the VC money dried up due to many companies not being able to turn a profit, our soon became a casualty as well, unable to shift with the changing market.
Nearly 5 years into my career at this point, I had achieved a lot professionally. I had amassed not just a wealth of experience, but also more than half a dozen professional certifications within my field. After my second layoff in as many years, this one through our company being acquired by IBM in 2002, I decided it was time to start my own business and pursue a lifelong dream – music production and performing.
From 1998 to 2000, I had helped produce a few recordings, and had some limited performances. In late 2000 I was hired as night club DJ in downtown Boston to play every Saturday night based on a demo I had submitted. Over the next couple of years I found myself producing and DJ’ing 3-5 nights a week or more, and no longer was it just Boston – soon it was Providence, then New York City, Washington DC, Miami, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Hollywood, San Francisco and more US cities. Before I knew it, I was getting booking requests to perform overseas – England, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bali, Aruba, Belize, Mexico and more.
Around 2005, I landed what I thought was going to be my dream job – a little video game company founded by some MIT Media Lab guys in Central Square Cambridge that was making ‘music-based’ video games. The company was called Harmonix Music Systems, or simply Harmonix to outsiders. I had been hired to help standardize their IT department (since they had never had a full-time person doing this in 7 years as a company). In less than 6 months I had delivered a standardized solution for the company allowing the designers and developers to work much more efficiently, and minimize any downtime. in exchange I got to be part of a team that built Guitar Hero, Karaoke Revolution, and Rock Band. One thing I found during this job was that though I really ‘like’ video games, I didn’t ‘LOVE’ them like most of the people there. Also, the company was about to be acquired by MTV Games/Viacom, and things were about to change. Thankfully, I did have a parachute to land with, and continued to press on with music, and IT consulting.
In 2009, a good friend of mine (also a prolific DJ), Steve Porter and I set out to build a media production company. Steve and I had worked together in the electronic dance music scene for over 10 years and were growing weary of some of the emerging trends. Using the tools and software we had been using for music production, and seeing the explosive growth of viral news and videos, Steve started blurring the lines of music, video, comedy and drama. This eventually morphed into a video earning several million views in less than a week. So we pushed out a few more, touching on different personalities and genres. a few short weeks later we were producing the TV and online ad campaign for the NBA Finals “Where Amazing Happens.” This continued to morph into more work with the big networks, weekly contributions to ESPN, and a host of others.
More recently, I have been working as a Consultant, Sales Engineer, and Solutions Architect.
My interest in this course in particular is initially rooted in my deep interest in the history of media, communication and it’s evolution. I have always possessed an affinity towards various forms of media and communication, including but not limited to:
- Co-editor of my High School newspaper
- Assisting with publicity for US Senator Paul Wellstone’s (MN-deceased) campaign
- While in the US Army, I ran the Communications Department for my unit as a Signal Systems Support Specialist
- I was a columnist for the magazine “The Improper Bostonian”
- I co-founded a media production company, and have worked with major US TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and others)
It’s my hope to learn a great deal more about the formal history and origins of how American media and communications has shaped today’s industries, and the associated classroom discourse.