Zack Sandler ‘20: Artist and Producer Living Out His Dreams

Some students work on their honors thesis in their dorm room or in the student center, but that wasn’t the case for Zack Sandler ‘20. He wrote his thesis while traveling around the country in the back of a tour bus as a tour manager for an emerging band at the time. Zack majored in Music Industry with a minor in Business Management.

Today, Zack plays saxophone for several bands and is the producer for Danny Clinch and The Transparent Clinch Gallery in Asbury Park. He is also co-producer for the pop-up Transparent Clinch Gallery Art Tent at the Sea. Hear. Now. Festival. He’s worked on projects with Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, GRAMMYs, Pearl Jam, and more.

For the last two years, Zack has been a producer at the Transparent Clinch Gallery working directly with Grammy-nominated photographer and Director, Danny Clinch. Danny has photographed and worked with top artists; Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, John Mayer, Radiohead, Neil Young, Patti Smith and countless others. In addition to his work adorning album covers, he’s directed music videos for Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and the list goes on.

Since The Transparent Clinch Gallery also acts as a local living room and live music space, Zack’s role as a producer includes live music curation and logistics, sound engineer, archive organization, marketing, digital media and production management.

Zack grew up by the Jersey Shore, so having the childhood foundation of going to concerts in Asbury Park and fast forward to producing and playing in the same area is a real full-circle moment.

He said, “I’m here at the studio, working on projects with some of my favorite artists that I grew up listening to and idolizing. Now, I’m helping them grow by working on their tours and new albums. I’m also pulling out photographs from our art archives at the studio which end up on major platforms on the world stage.”

Zack didn’t just land in the music industry, he immersed himself in it while being a student at Monmouth University. As soon as he finished his classes at Monmouth, he’d head into town that same night to practice exactly what he had learned.

Joe Rapolla, Chair & Specialist Professor in the Music and Theater Arts Department, worked closely with Zack as a student. Rapolla shared, “Zack was willing to put himself out there. He was willing to go find and/or create opportunities, to make contact with decision-makers and follow up. This is a key element of success in the music, media, or really any business.”

Zack credits Professor Rapolla for much of his success in the music industry and the late Reenie Menditto who encouraged him to finish his thesis, which is now published and archived in the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music.

In terms of opportunities at Monmouth, Zack grabbed them all. He was a member of Blue Hawk Records, President of the Men’s Soccer Club, Treasurer of the Chabad Club, a participant in the Birth Right trip to Israel with Chabad, and co-founder of the “Save Bread” app that won first place on the Hawk Tank, all while maintaining the academic standards of the Honors School.

Even though Zack plays the saxophone, he discovered his entrepreneurial spirit in his business classes and eventually published his app after winning the regional pitch with the financial support of the school.

Zack discovered more of his Jewish identity through the Chabad club and had the opportunity to speak publicly at fundraisers in front of hundreds of potential donors.

Professor Rapolla added, “Zack was also directly responsible for linking the relationship that Monmouth University has with the Light of Day Foundation, which funds Parkinson’s Disease research. This concert series would bring student performers together with legendary musicians to play in the benefit.”

Zack is a firm believer in giving back and passing along the torch to the people who paved the path for him. Zack will be heading back to Monmouth University for Blue Hawk Record’s Industry Alumni Networking event which will take place on Oct. 11 from 7-9 p.m. in the Lauren K. Woods Theatre, where he’ll be speaking and sharing his knowledge with students who have similar aspirations.

Zack shares his advice for students looking to gain entry in the music industry, “It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. When I was a tour manager, I thought that was it. I didn’t know what else was out there. A lot of people expect music to be heavily involved in contracts in offices of Nashville or New York, but it’s whatever you make of it. The most important thing is to be happy with what you’re doing.”