Business Students Create Record Label

Business students at Dominican University of California have started their own independent record label and are in the process of creating an album featuring their newly signed artists – all as part of an undergraduate course “Marketing for the Music Industry.”

The course is taught by recording industry veteran C. Michael Brae, the CEO of San Francisco-based Hitman Records. While most college music business courses usually operate on a theoretical level, Brae believes the best way to learn his business is to actually work in the business.

In this hands-on course, students not only develop an album project but also address all aspects involved with running an independent label, such as signing up artists, manufacturing a CD, and branding, marketing, and distributing their product.

The students’ AlphaBeats label will feature a variety of music, ranging from rap to hip-hop to some alternative tracks. Three artists have been signed to the label and the students are in negotiations with another six artists. An album release party is set for December 2 in San Francisco. Brae is encouraging the students to seek corporate partners for cross promotion opportunities — a growing trend in the music industry.

This is the right time and the right location for such a course, as music industry distribution shifts from a retail focus to a growing reliance on Internet commerce and digital downloads, notes Brae, who also has taught the program at the University of California Los Angeles and University of the Pacific. 

“San Francisco and Northern California are the capital of independent recording of the music world,” says Brae. “Independent labels are leading the way into new areas of music, introducing new artists, and changing the way the music business is conducted.”

In the course, Brae emphasizes new opportunities available to independents and the need to understand the dynamics of the music industry including record promotion, manufacturing, distribution, press, touring, and the Internet’s role in label management.
Classroom projects have included: Establishing the name of label, directors and departments; scouting artists, reviewing projects, and signing artists; developing a marketing plan; setting up a barcode, a company logo, a website, and a press kit; setting up and promoting a record release show; and creating art and the manufacturing setup for a CD.

Posted November 20, 2006