Ryan Dils

DJ, software engineer, entrepreneur
Open Beats, UB Blockchain ThinkLab


My name is Ryan. Some people know me better as DJ Gradient, Dils, or many other monikers.

My life and career as a whole encompasses a unique mixture of software development, entrepreneurship, music, finance, art, and many other fields.

I have a lot of interests and I’m very ambitious. By nature I just do a lot of things. If you ask my friends or anyone who really knows me at all they can co-sign the fact that I just kinda do whatever I want.

I am going to school for computer science at the SUNY University at Buffalo, and by the time I’m finished with my education it’s going to have taken me 6 years to get a bachelor’s in computer science and minors in psychology and music.

I’m a Western New York Prosperity Fellow Alumni, which means I was a former recipient of the most prestigious fellowship/scholarship at my University. The Western New York Prosperity Fellowship is a program at the University at Buffalo and Canisius that awards financial support to recipients based on their endeavors to become an entrepreneur in the Western New York community. I became a member of the program mainly because of my work as a Software Engineer (SWE) intern at M&T Bank in 2018 before they moved into Seneca One and did a total rebrand, my early work with ACV Auctions as a SWE intern and Technical Program Management (TPM) Intern from 2018 to 2020 before they went public, and my experience doing academic research in the Data Intensive Distributed Computing (DIDC) Laboratory, and spearheading the Conor J Long Foundation through GoFundMe.

Right now, I work as a DJ and music producer based out of Buffalo, NY. I primarily record out of Bridge Studios and my house, and I currently DJ at SoHo Buffalo, Cole’s on Elmwood, Club Marcella, Allen St. Hardware, and more. I have previously DJ’d at other locations in Buffalo such as Venu and Falley Allen.

I primarily mix House and Dance music, but I have also spun open format/top 40 which encompasses all genres of music. I have been really involved in music and have been building an expansive palette since I was a kid. My dad was in the navy and my mom was a flight attendant and they played music constantly. Due to their careers, they traveled all over the world and heard sounds from everywhere and then brought it back home. I frequently remember my mom putting on music from “back in the day” and asking people around if they remember “skating” to it, meaning dancing at the roller rink, or my dad telling stories of songs he heard when he was stationed in Hawaii or lived in Atlanta.

I’ve played a lot of instruments such as the saxophone, piano, bass, drums and more, but decided to land on DJing and music production through a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) because I believe that it’s the best way to combine my passions for music and software.

When I think about what my goals are in life, I really just want to put people on to cool stuff, build cool stuff on the internet and the real world, and maybe go see a couple places that I have some relation to like Spain, Puerto Rico, and Ireland. That’s what it looks like at a high level. When you get more granular and break it down, my TODO list kind of looks like this:

I currently own and operate a Delaware C-Corp called “Open Beats” which is a piece of music production software that lets artists collaborate on musical projects from across the world in a way that is similar to Google Docs. Basically you just log in to a collaborative “studio session” and can see any change that’s made by another party in real time. I decided to start building the platform after struggling to collaborate on music remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. My business partner is Brennon Hall, the owner and operator of Bridge Studios in Buffalo, NY.

It’s a pretty straightforward concept, Google Docs for music, but to break it down even further, if ACRAZE, Benny The Butcher, and myself cough cough are not in the same geographic location and we want to work on a record together, we can still build the project at the same time or continuously work on it without having to navigate through painful file transfers, and risk the track being leaked early.

Open Beats is more of a file sharing and conversion technology than a standalone Digital Audio Workstation. This was a business decision that Brennon and I pivoted to after having multiple conversations with coaches in the UB Cultivator Program and customers at Bridge Studios.

I wasn’t really taking music seriously before the pandemic because I was so obsessed with building up my software engineering skills and my professional network there. When I got the idea for Open Beats, I was a WNY Prosperity Fellow. In the program, they have this thing called an enrichment fund which is basically a grant given to fellows in the program to enhance their experience in the fellowship. When it came time to apply for the grant, I argued that I needed the money for music equipment, a Rekordbox DDJ-400, and Logic Pro X. I have been building original tracks, mashups, edits, and more since then. I have worked with hundreds of unique artists primarily through the internet in order to understand the problem space required to build Open Beats. Due to growth in my music career both as a DJ and a producer, I’ve upgraded most of the equipment and just kept rolling those chips.

I want to continue to engineer software, DJ, and produce music. As a result, I have taken a research opportunity in the Blockchain ThinkLab at the University at Buffalo under Bina Ramamurthy and am working on building NFTs for audio files. Before you roll your eyes, think about how amazing that would be for musicians and producers. A 1/1 sample that cannot be replicated or extracted by other software because it exists on a blockchain. The amount of ways you could flip that with the right technology is mind blowing to me and could be really profitable. By the way, if you’re interested in collaborating on that in some capacity, send a message to my school email: ryandils@buffalo.edu

My music career has gained some traction and I want to continue to explore this area. I’ve always had a huge passion for music and it just makes sense with what I’m trying to do as an entrepreneur. Right now, DJing and producing are my main focus, and I’m passing off the software engineering reins for Open Beats to a lot of smart cookies I worked with at UB and the Buffalo startup community.

I’m going to continue working on this Music NFT project, DJing, and producing while I finish up my education.

There’s a lot left in store for me and I’m just really excited to see where life takes me. I’ve been really down and right now I feel kinda up. I just keep riding whatever wave I’m on and pray I keep getting blessed.

If you’d like to book me you need to reach out to @clarkethrasher on Instagram somehow.