Changing ‘I want to be’ to ‘I am,’ organization plans to connect all artists


Abigail Schmidt

Sophomore music industry major Aidan O’Connor leads a meeting for EX3. This organization aims to brings different aspects of creative industries together to help promote artists and network in and outside of Loyola. Abigail Schmidt/The Maroon

Abigail Schmidt, Life and Times Editor

When music industry major Aidan O’Connor transferred to Loyola his sophomore year, he said he felt like every artist was “waiting for something.”

O’Connor said he noticed that a lot of creatives seemed nervous about what lay beyond Loyola and how they were going to get the experience they needed after graduation. This inspired him to form the EX3 collective to help musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, managers, advertisers, and writers break into respective careers.

“It’s a collective in which students of all different majors and career paths are able to get career experience by working together to promote artists of all mediums,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said he hopes to connect and help build a symbiotic relationship among all aspects of the music industry and help them make connections inside and outside of Loyola. This would include helping artists find managers, a legal team, and a marketing team, while also connecting them with designers, videographers, and social media coordinators.

“The whole point of it is changing ‘I want to be’ to ‘I am,’” he said.

He said he hopes to give people experience in the entertainment industry by participating in projects that promote artists and forming early connections that might be difficult to form after graduation. For example, he is currently planning a photoshoot for musicians to network with photographers and social media coordinators.

“People need something tangible to accomplish, especially when you’re just starting out,” he said.

O’Connor had the idea and began to work on it last fall during music industry studies professor Billy O’Connell’s introduction to music industry course.

The idea was based on a similar project O’Connor did in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, which he said led him to put a music festival together with major headliners that led to some members of the organization getting record deals.

When the spring semester started, O’Connor said he began spreading the word that the project was officially underway. He started by creating a Discord server with subcategories for different fields where anyone is free to join and network with other people. He started gaining traction with the idea, and had over 60 people join the server. He said that when he felt that word had spread enough, he held the first meeting.

“I could tell that there was a sense of community,” he said. “I could feel in that room for the first time since coming to this school that feeling of nervousness, the waiting, was there when everybody entered the room. And by the time everybody left, it was gone. And it was like the biggest weight off of my shoulders, because people showed up. People cared. There was a great discussion between everyone. Everybody’s really excited because everybody’s doing what they love, because now there’s an opportunity to do it and there’s nothing left to wait for.”

He said it felt good to see people talking to each other and networking within their creative fields.

“When Aidan told me about his idea, I immediately jumped on board and started communicating with others to form a foundation for the organization,” said freshman popular and commercial music major and EX3’s legal director Edmund Parry.

Parry and O’Connor are currently working toward an LLC for the nonprofit organization, and Parry is in charge of things such as financial work, acquiring permits for future shows, and writing contracts with people doing business with EX3.

O’Connor said he hopes for the different groups to grow and develop their own networks, starting within Loyola and branching out. His long term goal is for EX3 to be an accessible way for young people to try their hand at the industry they want to go into, he said.

Professor Billy O’Connell said he believes this is a positive initiative. Seeing O’Connor develop the idea in his class, he said he could see the need for something like this collective at Loyola, and feels hopeful that artists could become more united.

“It’s a very positive thing to break down silos between various groups within the music industry, whether it’s genre or specialty,” O’Connell said.

He added that while most artists tend to be competitive, “a rising tide can raise all boats.”

O’Connell said especially somewhere as close knit as Loyola, there can be a “fraternal approach.”

“We are all brothers and sisters. We are here to protect each other and look out for one another, and that’s the true value of a collective,” he said.