Emblem: Introduction to Philosophy

Matt Salavitch (PPE '16) combined his love of music with a King's education to pursue a career in the NYC record industry.

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Matt Salavitch (PPE ’16) parked his fixed-gear bike outside of his high school in San Ramon, California, excited to attend his first day of jazz band class. As the other students trickled into the classroom, a classmate named Nick made the connection between the bike outside and Matt’s skate-punk appearance, asking him: “Do you ride fixies?” “Yeah,” Matt answered. “Do you like punk music?” “Yeah,” Matt said again. And just like that, the pop-punk band Modern Day Kids was born.

Soon, Matt and Nick had recruited two more friends to join their band and they began practicing in their parents’ garages every day after school. As the band got better and better, they started playing gigs around the San Francisco area, slowly building a following. With Modern Day Kids growing in popularity, a local music scout heard about this new band and signed them to a record deal with a regional music label, where they recorded their first album. With this success, Matt, the band’s bass guitarist, set his sights on becoming a professional musician.

But when the band began to lose momentum, eventually breaking up during Matt’s senior year of high school, Matt started to think about college. Maybe he could study business and help other young musicians achieve their own musical dreams? Unsure of where to go to college, Matt started looking at different schools in California. His mom’s friend, though, had heard about a Christian college in New York City called The King’s College; maybe Matt would be interested?

Matt had always been fascinated with New York City, so he signed up for an Inviso campus visit, flew across the country, and was welcomed to New York by a blowing snowstorm. As Matt learned about the mission and vision of King’s during his visit, he was intrigued by the PPE classes and the idea of influencing strategic institutions for good. King’s could also serve as a great entry point into the New York City music industry. Matt flew back to California interested in King’s but still wasn’t sure where
he would end up.

A week later, though, Matt received a large, flat package in the mail with a New York return address. As he opened the package, he saw a vinyl record from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, his favorite band. Two King’s students, Alex Price and Seth Parks, after hearing of Matt’s love for the Red Hot Chili Peppers during his campus visit, had found one of their early releases in an NYC record store and mailed it to Matt in California. Matt was blown away by the gesture and decided that King’s was the college for him. “King’s was different,” Matt said, “And I resonated with the mission so much.”

Once on campus, Matt experienced a transforming confrontation with the ideas he encountered at King’s. His professors challenged him to explore new concepts he’d never considered before and encouraged him to examine why he believed what he did. Matt thought he knew the Bible and basic Christianity pretty well, but at King’s, he was pushed to grow deeper in his relationship with God.

He also grew in his marriage to fellow alumna Alexandra (Rollis) Salavitch. Dating her while a student at King’s, and now being married for five years, has taught Matt the responsibility and sacrifice of being a husband and also the balance one must strike between building a career and responsibilities to your family.

But Matt’s time at King’s did more than just help him grow, it also gave him opportunities to get involved in the music industry. When a King’s classmate heard that Matt was interested in the music industry, she helped him get an internship at Descendant Records, a record label that signed Christian artists who existed outside the confines of traditional Christian music. Matt thrived during his internship at Descendent, turning it into a legacy position at King’s, passing it on to three consecutive King’s students.

After his internship at Descendant, Matt got connected through another friend at King’s to Epic Records, part of the Sony Music Entertainment Group. Epic Records was one of the most successful record companies over the last several decades, working with artists like Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam, and Mariah Carey. Matt interned in their Artists and Repertoire (A&R) division, helping to scout and sign new talent, as well as working with existing artists to create and produce new music. The next summer, Matt used his connections at Epic to land an internship at Columbia Records, which was also a part of the Sony music empire. Every day he’d walked into the giant Sony Music Building on 57th Street in Midtown New York, passing a wall filled with the world’s best-selling records ever, before working with some of the most well-known music executives in the industry.

But Matt was doing more in college than helping artists succeed in the music industry. As he went through his core curriculum classes, he began to wrestle with how politics and economics impacted everything around him. He watched the downtown Brooklyn skyscrapers being built next to his apartment with a new fascination, as he observed political power and economic policy come to life through cranes, steel, and concrete.

While Matt was intrigued by New York City’s political and economic systems, when graduation came, he used his network in the music industry to find a job at Communion Music, Mumford and Sons band member, Ben Lovett’s, concert promotion company. Matt was living his dream, in charge of putting on small shows in New York and up and down the East Coast. He curated the lineup for a monthly artist showcase, where A&R executives would scout out the next wave of rising musicians.

From Communion Music, he transitioned to Rockwood Music Hall, a three-stage venue on the Lower East Side that booked up-and-coming artists each night. While Matt worked at Rockwood, he started to get calls from an unlisted number. The caller turned out to be a recruiter, wanting to know if Matt would be interested in a position on the music editorial team at YouTube’s streaming service. That led to an interview, and Matt was soon hired to be a project manager, working between the musical artists and the programming team.

By the time 2020 came around, Matt had transitioned to working at Facebook, where he was a content curator in several music-related categories. He was in charge of finding and promoting the best music-related content on the platform. But as Matt contemplated the cultural events of 2020, he began to think back to his PPE classes at King’s while wondering if there might be a way to use his gifts to help others in a more tangible way?

While Matt had fulfilled his high school dream of working in the music industry, he began to realize that he wanted to impact the world in a different way. As he thought about the importance of the rule of law and the impact politics and economics had on society, he started to ask himself: “Could I be a lawyer?” After talking to different lawyers about their experiences, Matt felt more and more confirmed that God was leading him to switch careers and go to law school. Now Matt has taken the LSAT, been accepted to several NYC law schools, and is all set to start this new career path at Fordham School of Law in the fall.

Matt credits his King’s education for showing him how the law and politics are the foundation of society. “King’s made me understand where society has come from and where it’s at. And now, I am realizing that I can be involved in influencing some of these issues.” While the music industry and legal work might seem total opposites, Matt sees a natural connection; in both fields, you’re working on behalf of someone else, whether an artist or a client, to help them succeed.

Matt has realized that he doesn’t need to be the star of the show to be a success but finds great joy in helping other people thrive.

While the skate-punk high school version of Matt would have never believed that he’d someday be going to law school, Matt’s looking forward to how God will use him in this next chapter of his life. While Matt knows that his time in music has made an impact, he sees being involved in the legal system as an opportunity to make an even
bigger difference in the world. He’s not exactly sure what his career in the legal field will look like, but he’s trusting God to guide him in the right direction. “I’m hoping to go into law school and let God lead the way,” Matt said. “I’ll do my best and bring my A-game to whatever doors He opens for me.”


This story is from Emblem VII, our annual magazine. Read the full magazine here

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