Match Records set to open new doors for student and local talent
MTSU has always boasted itself as one of the nation’s top schools for recording industry majors, and now it has the record label to go with it.
Since the opening of the Center for the Innovation of Media last semester, the RIM department noticed that it, too, was in need of a serious change.
MT Records has been the school’s official label and has allowed students first-rate access to the ins and outs of developing an artist, and what exactly goes into the business of working at a record label. In the past, the program has only lasted for a semester, which has kept the work that could be accomplished within the confines of time. This ultimately left many students without the proper time necessary to develop a new artist.
The artists also suffered because three or four months is barely enough time to establish yourself with those you work with, especially when it comes those at a record label. A semester can only scratch the surface of what could be accomplished. This resulted in a program that couldn’t offer much to students except the absolute basics.
The solution that the RIM department came up with was to completely start from square one and build a completely new label from the ground up. Match Records is the result of a long period of meetings, decision-making and tireless Googling. The name itself is a metaphor that has much in common with the college experience – the place where the journey begins for most people.
“It’s just kind of a cool, you know, lighting the fire, creating the fire,” said Shelby Lowe, director of artists and repertoire.
Josh Carlton, general manager, is also enthusiastic about the new name’s compatibility with the label’s goals.
“We were trying to think creatively and trying to incorporate some of those ideas, like something with ”MT” in it, something that’s … easy to say, easy to remember, and like Shelby said, it’s got the symbolic meaning of starting a fire, which we’re not promoting anyone to go out and become arsonists, but it’s a metaphorical fire,” Carlton said.
In order to break the semester-long timeframe, the program was changed to a practicum and can now stretch out over multiple semesters as opposed to the older, semester-long program of MT Records. This extra time is necessary for students, who could only put their foot in the door in the past. With new faculty advisor Amy Macy, associate professor in the RIM program, in charge, Match Records will allow students a more immersive experience that this kind of work requires.
“The way it’s been in the past is it’s an actual class. Students would come in for one semester, do the record label thing and then it’s over with and then they’re gone. Now Amy Macy took over, and it’s a practicum meaning that a student can sign up for the practicum and be a part of the record label for multiple semesters,” Lowe said. “It can be more of an organization that they are a part of for semesters to come. It’s a lot easier for it to maintain itself because there isn’t a turnover every semester.”
This arrangement is also beneficial for the artists, allowing time to foster relationships with the team. It provides a comfortable environment for both the students and the bands, where work does not have to feel rushed in order to meet finals deadlines.
The label is designed to employ and develop local bands whose members include at least one MTSU student. Copper Into Steel and The Resolute are the bands that have been chosen to be this year’s artists.
For students who are interested in getting involved, but are not necessarily RIM majors or have been granted candidacy, there are opportunities out there. Match Records hopes to develop a good street team that can deliver a strong sense of guerilla marketing by going to venues and handing out flyers for shows or selling merchandise for the label.
“On our website, we’re going to have a section for ‘grass roots’ efforts and it’s going to incorporate a street team. We’re going to have whoever wants to volunteer as street team personnel, go out and do that guerrilla marketing: hang flyers, put stickers on places. Not too much graffiti or anything like that, but you know, the usual stuff,” Lowe said.
Word of mouth through the university population will be crucial to develop these bands, as well.
“Spreading word of mouth is a huge thing, and I think that just having even five or 10 people that are just extra hands that can … just post off their Facebook or tell their friends about what we’re doing, tell friends about shows. It really widens the effort,” Carlton said.
Match Records dreams of making a name for itself in a way that MT Records was never able to in the past. Its mission is to separate itself from the typical school-related program and treat itself as a professional, first-hand opportunity for students.
“We wanted to find a name that kind of ventured slightly away from being under the MTSU umbrella … it’s not that we’re trying to hide our association, it’s that we’re trying to make it seem more, I guess, legitimate,” Carlton said.
There is still much work to be done in getting Match Records off of the ground. There are T-shirts to be printed, contracts to finalize and advertisements to shoot that will be broadcast at sports events, television commercials and more. For now, students can check out the Match Records’ Facebook page to learn more and keep up with the progress of the label.
“The biggest things we’re going to be able to do are provide recording opportunities, number one,” Carlton said. “Number two, take over or help enhance their social media presence or their internet presence … we’re working to foster some good relationships with local venues, regional venues so that we can have our artists keep coming back for years to come.”