March 31, 2023

Audio Engineer For Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Big & Rich and More | Dakota Hurley Grad Story

As a kid, Dakota Hurley knew he wanted a career in music. For hours he’d sit in his room dissecting riffs from great classic rock and country records. Fast forward twenty or so years, and he was working alongside those same artists. And when he’s not running front-of-house for Aerosmith, Billy Joel, and Big and Rich, he’s managing his own recording studio and event venue. Not bad for a kid from Johnson City, Tennessee.  

Dakota’s Early Journey In Audio Engineering

Dakota’s interest in music began in the church. His grandfather was a minister, which allowed him to be close to the choir and join in the musical performances during services. He was hooked… Dakota spent his elementary and high school years practicing and fantasizing about becoming a great guitarist. 

After graduating high school, Dakota didn’t immediately pursue a career in audio. Instead, he took a brief detour and joined the Air Force. This didn’t mean he wasn’t still actively creating music. In fact, the bands he joined while in the armed forces solidified his love for the country genre.

Learning the Ropes and Launching a Career in Audio Engineering

Following his time as an airman, Dakota knew what he wanted to do: record and produce records. So he took some time to find a school that would help guide him on the path he knew he was destined for. That’s when he came across F.I.R.S.T. Institute’s Recording Arts and Show Production program. He charged into the program and gained the skills he needed to elevate himself in the industry. 

Dakota opened his own recording studio and event venue in a space known as The Cove in Sanford, FL. Here he has made a name for himself by recording and producing music for dozens of bands and solo artists. Dakota’s favorite part of his job is molding the musical elements into the finished product. As a front-of-house engineer, he’s also worked with major acts like Billy Joel, Eric Church, Big & Rich, Aerosmith, and more.

“F.I.R.S.T. helped me develop the skills and understand information I still use to this day,” Dakota states. “The Sky’s the limit, and you can achieve anything you’re willing to work for.” If you are an aspiring audio engineer, music producer, or are just interested in the audio field, we invite you to tour our Recording Arts and Show Production program. We’d love to help you launch a career in a field you love!