April 12, 2019

Dakota Hurley: Graduate Story, Recording Arts & Show Production

Meet Dakota Hurley, a Recording Arts and Show Production program graduate of F.I.R.S.T. Institute. He refers to his first experiences with the Orlando, Florida technical college as “light bulb moments.”

Within the first couple of months, Dakota learned how to use music software such as Logic Pro and Pro Tools. Since he already knew Garage Band, learning these programs was a breeze.

Dakota Hurley’s First Music Production

As a F.I.R.S.T. Institute student, Mr. Hurley began producing his first single in October. It was released that following January. He enjoyed the project because it taught him the right wayto produce music.

His first single, Riding Out, was mostly written when he was still in the Air Force. The rough demo was created using Garage Band software before he became a F.I.R.S.T. student. Dakota used more state-of-the-art software to polish it as a class project.

Riding Out is now available for download on iTunes, Spotify and more.

Anytime he’s feeling stagnant, Dakota listens to the rough demo and the polished version and compares the two. This allows him to hear how much his music production skills have improved since enrolling at F.I.R.S.T. That motivates him to keep going.

Dakota Becomes a F.I.R.S.T. Institute Student

When Dakota toured F.I.R.S.T. Institute before enrolling, he was impressed with the office setup. The front desk resembled a recording studio. Country music rang out from the office speakers.

Being a country guy himself, it was cool to be in the middle of Downtown Orlando listening to country music at school. That was the winning moment for Dakota. He knew this was the music school for him!

During the tour, he visited music production studios on the Orlando campus. He had no idea what any of the equipment was or what it did. It was a bit intimidating. But he was “in”!

Mr. Hurley loved the layout of the school, including the Rock ‘n’ Roll and movie posters all over the walls. It looked just like a studio… a place the artistic would want to create art.

Learning to Connect Film & Audio

Dakota’s favorite project as a F.I.R.S.T. Institute student was the Sound for Visual Media project (SVM). With dreams of being a musician, artist and record producer, this was the most challenging project for him.

Up to that point, he hadn’t understood the connections between film and audio. Once he realized how they were connected, he was truly fascinated. Mr. Hurley has never watched movies the same again.

As a class project, Dakota and his classmates redid the trailer for the movie Deadpool. They went Downtown Orlando and recorded sounds of cars and busy streets to use as background noise for the audio. He was proud to do the music score for the trailer, calling it a “cool” project.

John Martinez, his instructor on the Deadpool trailer project, was just awesome.

Life After Graduating from F.I.R.S.T. Institute

Now, as a graduate, Dakota Hurley continues his endeavors into rock and country music production. He has five singles out now and recently completed his first music video.

The F.I.R.S.T. graduate is staying humble. Yet, he enjoys logging into his Apple Music for Artists account to see where his singles have been played. So far, they’ve been played on six different continents and in hundreds of different countries.

To date, he’s done hundreds of live shows. And his band is planning a fall tour right now.

Recently, Dakota spoke with Bob Hershberger, a former instructor at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, who’s also his mentor. Bob advised the graduate to stop releasing singles and start working on an entire album. So, now he’s stacking up his singles, preparing to release his album, hopefully sometime this fall.

Dakota has opened for quite a few national country acts, including Craig Campbell, Garth Brooks, Confederate Railroad, Darryl Singletary and Joe Nichols. Anytime the F.I.R.S.T. graduate gets the chance to work with such top artists, he “picks their brains” to learn as much from them as possible.

Mr. Hurley advises anyone trying to get into the music recording or audio industry to “learn absolutely everything you can.” That means attending an audio recording school, like he did, to learn the basics and fundamentals of producing music.

Then, go out into the real world and expand on that through mentorships, internships and networking. And learn literally everything you can from the people you meet.