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Student Spotlight: Griffin Underwood combines music and marketing in a promising career

TAMPA – University of South Florida marketing student Griffin Underwood spent the summer documenting a guitar-playing YouTube star as the one-man band played at music festivals around the country.

The marketing principles he learned in his graduate classrooms were top of mind as he filmed, edited, and created video clips of Døvydas and posted them online to promote the Lithuanian music star.

Underwood, a student in the master’s program in marketing at the USF Muma College of Business, believes studying marketing is vital to his video production and photography pursuits — a craft he has been honing since he started his YouTube channel in middle school to feature his homemade films.

“I’ve been interested in film and television production since I was young,” he said. “I loved going to see movies, and always wanted to be a part of making them. I didn’t necessarily want to go to film school, so I thought that pursuing a degree in business/marketing would be a great way to apply the skills I had gained.”

Underwood has been recognized for his film career, explicitly winning the best student film at the Sarasota Youth Film Festival in high school. 

After high school, Underwood earned an associate of arts degree from State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from USF. At USF, he expanded the business side of his craft and founded Underwood Media. He credits USF for playing an integral role in his blossoming career, specifically in helping him start his own business.

“Using knowledge gained from my undergraduate and graduate programs at USF, I was able to start my own freelance video production/photography business, Underwood Media. Through that, I could work with influencers on YouTube and expand my network with people in that space,” he said.

Through Underwood Media, he connected with Døvydas. 

Døvydas, a Lithuanian guitarist with a collective following of over 1.5 million, settled in Sarasota, playing local spots like St. Armand’s Circle. 

Using the skills taught in his courses, Underwood utilizes both his marketing and production skills to produce videos, with some reaching audiences of over 2.4 million viewers. 

Underwood says a highlight of his summer was filming at GearFest in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

“GearFest was such a great experience,” Underwood said. “I was able to visit Sweetwater, the largest music store in the United States. It was so cool seeing their new retail store, talking to their marketing team, and seeing their distribution center at work.” 

He acknowledged how his background in film prepared him for a career in marketing. 

“Apart from advertising and promotion, really understanding who you are trying to reach, and having the creative skills to understand and solve problems, is how media creation and marketing are similar. A solid understanding of the market and your target audience are the keys to success, and, of course, execution of your strategy.” Underwood said. 

After his eventful summer, Underwood returned to USF, where he held leadership roles and had valuable marketing experience. 

“The Muma College of Business has so many support systems and opportunities for students, and has some of the nicest, most knowledgeable employees and staff — all of which have contributed to my success,” Underwood said. 

Some of his favorite USF memories include being a graduate assistant for the Basic Marketing class and taking the Business in Esports course, where he hosted a stream alongside classmates sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Underwood works freelance through his company and expects to graduate with his master’s degree in marketing this fall.

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