LOS ANGELES — For musicians today, it takes a lot more than a drum set to get to work. Music producer Jamey Tate writes and records music for film and television and he’s able to do all that from the comfort of his home studio.

“So one of the great things about having a facility like mine at home is that I don’t have to leave the house to actually work,” said Tate. “Now that we’re in all of these crazy times with COVID and having stay-at-home orders, I don’t have to actually go anywhere and I’m still able to make a living.”

But to earn a living, you need hardware and it can feel daunting to patch it all together, especially for those starting out. That’s why Tate agreed to be a mentor for The Music Center’s Spotlight Program.

What You Need To Know

  • Southern California high school students (grades 9-12), from any skill level, can apply to The Music Center's Spotlight program

  • The yearlong art training and scholarship program is free for participants

  • Spotlight will be entirely digital this year to ensure the safety and well-being of participants and instructors

  • The deadline to apply for the 2020-2021 Spotlight program is October 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Apply at musiccenter.org

“I know that when I was younger, my life was so incredibly changed in a positive way by the mentors that I had,” said Tate. “I hope to be the same type of mentor for these young people to help them move further in their quest for arts and greatness.”

Hundreds of high school students audition to be one of the 14 finalists. Each finalist takes home a $5,000 scholarship. All participants are mentored throughout the program and can access the Academy where they’ll learn workforce development skills. This year, Spotlight will be virtual and students will also learn how to build a home studio for the first time. Thankfully, students won’t need much to get started.

“As a younger student, maybe it’s so much about you needing to work, maybe it’s just being able to explore,” said Tate. “And you can do it because of technology at a fraction of the cost.”

Kai Burns first auditioned for Spotlight his sophomore year in high school, but didn’t become a finalist until a year later. A jazz guitarist, he loves the freedom of performing his own music. Now a senior at the L.A. County High School for the Arts, Burns has learned a lot from the program.

“I’ve met a lot of new people who have become helpful connections for me to play with or learn from or do work for later in the future,” said Burns. “I’ve also learned a lot, especially about working, especially if you’re under a deadline.”

Along with a scholarship, mentorship and education programs, winning students best of all, will get to perform in the Grand Finale.

“You know music changes,” said Tate. “Everything evolves and we have to evolve with it.”