For my J-Term course in January 2017, I took the course JMC 99: 1796 The Recorded Music Industry: A Peek Behind the Curtain, taught by Tobi Parks, Executive Director of Station 1 Records, Tom Kutz, Director of Operations and Consultant of Station 1 Records, and Thomas Swartwood, Professor at Drake University and Board Member of Station 1 Records. This course is an interdisciplinary study of the music industry including music publishing, music promotion, music business ethics, emerging music business technologies, copyright law, and other subjects directly pertinent to understanding today’s music industry landscape. The course took a practical look at the industry through the work of Station 1 Records.
Station 1 Records is the non-profit record label of the Des Moines Social Club and is an experiment in a new kind record company model – one that emphasizes patronage over profits. Part of the purpose of Station 1 Records is to build music careers. With the goal of developing artists currently living in smaller markets in the Midwest – and luring new artists to these markets – Station 1 provides a platform for artists and opportunities for students interested in working in the business to do hands-on work in recording, distribution, public relations, marketing, promotion, and tour support.
The plan for Station 1 Records is to be an organization that is partially student-run with the supervision of seasoned music industry professionals. Drake students will be involved with the day-to-day operation of the record and entertainment company, gaining hands-on, real world experience while also getting the academic foundation for future success. This course offered me an opportunity to launch this partnership while gaining skills in the industry.
In my time spent with Station 1 Records, I was tasked with showcasing an upcoming artist, MarKaus, and his new single “I’m Barely Breathin.'”
Here is some of the concepts I came up with Station 1 Records to possibly utilize to market MarKarus’ brand and music.
The most basic thing I could think of to market MarKaus was to create a t-shirt. Part of our project was to market MarKaus’ single as well as the setting it would be debuting at, The House Party. The House Party is a recurring event which is hosted by Lefty’s, which is a local bar near Drake’s campus. At The House Party, MarKaus would perform his single with the rest of the Station 1 Records team, which include artists such as SIRES and Lily DeTaeye. The goal of making this t-shirt was to create something that would be sold at The House Party.
Another concept that was very popular with a lot of my group mates was buttons. Since they’re such a popular collectable, we felt marketing MarKaus with a button would be successful and popular with a college demographic. The problem with this concept was, it’s difficult to fit much information on a button to educate an audience other than the buyer. So this concept was not one the record label decided to go forward with.
These are some examples of stickers I came up with to brand MarKaus. The purpose of the QR code here is that someone would buy the sticker, which would be attached to a T-Shirt tag or just attached to a flyer that came from The House Party, and the QR code would be a free download of MarKaus’ single, “I’m Barely Breathin.'” I used this same concept in previous albums MarKaus had released, using cover art he had used to market those albums to show him how this QR code could be continuously used as he released more music.