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Student turns techno ambition into tuition

Musician is on his way to collecting $50,000 to attend private art school
by: Jaime Valdez Lewis Godowski puts the finishing touches on a new music track. Godowski is raising money for college by selling his dance music online.

Lewis Godowski is headed to college, and he is looking for your help to get there.

The 21-year-old music producer is on his way to the California Institute of the Arts, a private arts school in Valencia, Calif., and he's well on his way to raising the $50,000 he needs for tuition through online sales of his music.

'Music is undoubtedly one of my top passions,' the Bull Mountain resident said. 'I use it to relax, to help me through hard times, to give me energy and confidence. Music is one of the most powerful influences in my life. I don't know what I would do without it.'

One of only a handful of students accepted to CalArts' music technology department and unable to pay for school on his own, Godowski is working to raise the money through donations by selling his soon-to-be-released album for tuition money.

Godowski set off on an ambitious challenge called '$50K in 50 Days,' to raise the amount he needs before the fall semester begins next month.

It's a gamble that's paid off. To date he has raised more than $32,000 in the first four weeks of his eight-week fundraising mission.

'I've got about $18,000 to go,' Godowski said sitting in his bedroom, his desk occupied by a large, electronic sound-board filled with flashing buttons.

Godowski has studied classical, jazz, funk, classic rock and other musical genres, but has made his name online with electronic techno-style dance music under the pseudonym 'P4NTHER.'

'I don't like to put labels on my music,' Godowski said, 'It's been classified as trance, but a lot of what I'm doing is very broad.'

'People can donate whatever they want'

Godowski's website, calartsdream.com, offers incentives to anyone who wants to contribute to his college fund.

'I wanted something that was really easy for people to use; that they don't have to spend a lot of time on. But what incentive is there for someone to donate $5, or $10 or $20?' Godowski asked. 'I needed some sort of incentive.'

Hard at work on a self-produced album of electronic music and a smaller EP, Godowski decided to offer them online.

A $5 donation allows you to download his soon-to-be-released EP; a $10 gets you his upcoming EP on CD.

A $50 donation gets your name included in the liner notes and copies of both the EP and the CD.

'People can donate whatever they want,' Godowski said. 'The whole thing evolved as I was putting it together.'

Godowski said he was surprised at the response, and the amount he's been able to raise.

'Looking back, I've come so far,' he said.

Godowski said that music has always been an important part of his life.

'Every day for years I would listen to The Beatles on an old cassette on the way to and from school,' he said.

Godowski said that making music has always been his dream, but he didn't see a way to be successful as a musician until he discovered CalArts' music technology department.

'There is this stereotype of the poor musician that can't make a living,' Godowski said, 'But this program, it takes the music that I love and puts a more practical twist on it.'

A self-described 'tech nerd,' Godowski will study the technical aspects of music making, which he is already well versed in. He built the music equipment he uses for his music and dreams of opening his own audio-visual production company.

'It really focuses on the technology behind creating music,' he said.

The '$50K in 50 Days' challenge ends on Sept. 15.

For more information on the challenge or to donate, visit calartsdream.com.