Tiger Records: RIT record label gives students real-life experience in the music business

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — Just like the TV business, the music business has so much more than just the performance with the behind the scenes production.

That’s the goal of Rochester Institute of Technology’s new course, which is run as a record label called Tiger Records. The students pick out what project they want to do, anything from recording and mixing to marketing and branding, and try to achieve it by the end of the semester.

For bandmates Jared MacKenzie, a freshman and engineering major, and Anthony Roberts, a computer science major, it was not only a way to play together, and work together putting out an album, but helped them get through the stressors of college.

“COVID, freshman year, all of that combined, it’s been a stressful semester,” said MacKenzie. “But this has been a really good outlet just to take what I’m feeling, anything I’ve been through in the past week, and put that into music, that get emotion out, and express myself. To get to do that, and get credit for it, it really feels unreal to be honest. It’s amazing.”

Roberts sheepishly admits that of the eight planned songs for Tzars of New York, with two weeks to go, they have only finished three songs. He is also using all of this knowledge for another musical endeavor, The Kiwis.

Another lesson learned along the way: Times New Roman isn’t the font to put on their upcoming album. Even a small decision like that is very helpful to any musician in a changing music business landscape.

“Some of the students do perform music, some just love listening to it or just want to be part of the music scene, maybe in design, and some are looking for the business and organizational skills to see how they can do this on a more professional level,” said Karl Stabnau in a statement.

Stabnau is a local saxophonist and concert promoter. For RIT, he is visiting lecturer for music business and performing arts initiatives in the Department of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts.

He also went to music school with a performance major, and has learned many of the other behind the scene skills on the job, without the support of a teacher and resources of a university. He hopes to pass along those lessons.

“Everybody wants to be a rock star at some point. The arts are something everyone wants to participate in,” Stabnau added. “But we’re no longer living in a world where you do one thing, like being an architect, photographer, or guitar player. Now you have a plurality where you can do them all.”

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