When you’re in college, it’s daunting enough to balance academics and a bustling social life. On top of that, could you imagine running your own record label? Through the MTSU Department of Recording Industry’s practicum program, students are getting that very opportunity.
Each semester, students manage virtually every aspect of a label through Match Records, (formerly known as MT Records and Scared Rabbit Records). Students are divided into various divisions of management, production, marketing, etc., and vote on what local artists to sign that semester. With the assistance of MTSU faculty, students manage every aspect of the artists’ professional development. They plan releases, book shows, market each artist, arrange interviews and more, just like any label would.
“It’s a grueling, very intense semester of immersion,” says Stacy Merida, Match’s faculty advisor and the former Vice President of Marketing for Sony Music Entertainment. “Most people think it’s just a class, but no, it’s not. It’s hands-on; if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. This is your record label. It can be what you want it to be, you’ve just gotta make it work.”
This pressure not only serves the label well, but the students themselves. They’re given networking opportunities, real-world experiences with regional industry professionals and, most importantly, experiences working with peers in a professional environment.
“It’s a good stepping stone,” says senior Briana Ramirez, who serves as the label’s vice president. “If you don’t have an opportunity like Match, when you go into your internship, you won’t have any background. Match builds a foundation and allows you to build upon it and work with other people and get an aspect of how the music industry works.”
The professional development extends to the artists as well. Former student musicians/bands Ryan Kenney, Luke Caccetta, Exum and Copper Into Steel were all on the label while they were undergrads, and this year Match has three signed artists on its roster, as well as two artists in development.
We asked the label’s three signees about their inspirations, how MTSU helped them develop as artists, and their plans for 2016:
Inspirations: “I’m inspired by imagination, nature, life’s experiences, other artists, different sounds, colors and great visual art. I always try to leave myself open to be inspired by any thought, observation, experience or feeling that I encounter.”
On MTSU: “MTSU has advanced my career by providing me with opportunities to connect with other talented students and industry professionals. Our professors are well-respected in their respective fields and have great relationships with other industry professionals who often come and speak to students to provide additional insight into their profession. I was personally afforded the opportunity to attend a summer songwriting camp at the Pop Akademie in Germany last summer and it literally changed my life. Studying overseas helped me to further understand who I am and who I can grow to become as an artist and songwriter. It also transitioned my mind to become more global in my songwriting approach. MTSU has graciously opened its recording studio to me on several occasions. Overall, MTSU has helped prepare me for a successful life and career in music.”
Plans for 2016: “In 2016, you can expect more music, more shows, and an overall better idea of who I am as an artist and a songwriter.”
Inspirations: “Anyone that made us question modern society and affected our day-to-day lives.”
On MTSU: “MTSU has provided us with the resources and development needed to be successful in the modern world of music.”
Plans for 2016: “We will be releasing our debut EP through Match Records. We will also be touring throughout the U.S. We will continue to write new and innovative music for your listening pleasure. Be prepared.”
Genre: Pop/Alternative Rock
Inspirations: “I would have to say my biggest inspirations personally are definitely Paramore, Fleetwood Mac and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I have a lot more that are a little bit more scattered across the board but I think those three have consistently been my top for quite a while!” (Ashley Nite)
On MTSU: “It’s actually done a lot for myself and the band in a lot of ways. If I hadn’t gone to MTSU, we would’ve never made the connections that got us signed to Match Records. They have really been instrumental in a lot of what’s been going on recently with playing live and getting in the studio as well as helping promote us!”
Plans for 2016: “Well, we actually just put out a single called ‘Words Left Unsaid’ on SoundCloud that will be available for purchase on Friday the 13th. Once that launches, we’re planning on filming a music video for it as well. Other than that, we’ll spend the summer playing shows, recording and writing the last few tracks for our album. Hopefully, that will be out by fall, and then we’ll hit the road for a regional tour!”
You can learn more about Match Records at matchrecordsmusic.com.