This semester, Grace Harris and Sarah Segner, two students from New York University’s undergraduate Music Business program within the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, are documenting their college course/indie record label Village Records as it works with CMJ to break Australian band Tigertown. Check out Part 1 and Part 2.
Back in Australia post-CMJ, Tigertown quickly saw a positive response to their whirlwind US debut. The week of October 28, Tigertown’s "Wandering Eyes" EP was #16 most added on the CMJ Top 200 Adds chart, where they previously had not been ranked. Additionally, the band was nominated for the Unearthed J Award, given by the national Australian radio station Triple J to an unsigned, up-and-coming artist annually.
Escape from Tape, the SoHo-based audio and video production company, developed its video single documenting Tigertown’s time in the studio for CMJ Sessions@NYU, which CMJ released on their website.
Joanne Abbot Green, Senior EVP and executive producer of CMJ Holdings Corp., provided a little insight into the partnership between CMJ and NYU: “CMJ Sessions@NYU is a revolutionary program whereby students are intricately involved in every step of the process, from A&R selection to the recording process to PR and marketing to video. I believe this is the very first time that a university department has teamed up with an outside media company [CMJ] to develop such a groundbreaking initiative. NYU Steinhardt's visionary leadership and CMJ's multi-layered ecosystem are a perfect match.”
Baeblemusic, curator and creator of music video programming, produced a documentary-style video following Tigertown around New York City during CMJ week. The result, a compilation of interviews, footage from the studio, and video shot by the band as they explored the city, the featurette, below, had over 41,000 views at the time of writing.
Tigertown also provided Village Records with a playlist based on their artistic inspirations; Village Records wanted to get a sense of the band’s influences to properly market them. “The list of songs on this playlist is made up of a lot of songs that we reference when it comes to songwriting or production decisions,” says Tigertown keyboard player Alexi Collins. “We tried to take a more classic approach at recording [the Wandering Eyes EP] to mimic how they would have done it in the 1970s. For example we tracked vocals all together around one mic and we all played our instruments live together, too. We also used old gear, including a suitcase Rhodes keyboard from the 70s and a Roland Juno synthesiser from the 80s.” The below playlist is a snapshot of the band's influences.
"Our aim is to use all our varied influences and make pop music that is unique," said Alexi, "so maybe in the context of the music industry at the moment we'll call [our music] 'alternative pop.’ While we look to this time period [the '70s] for influence and inspiration, we aim to produce originality in our songwriting.”
Village Records has been busy developing merchandise for Tigertown’s promotional use. Several ideas are being workshopped by the label, and the product management team has been tasked with conducting research to determine product cost, production, and distribution. Village Records and Tigertown-branded USB thumb drives were one popular product suggestion. The label is most interested in the prospect of creating lathe-cut records featuring both the "Wandering Eyes" EP version and the CMJ Sessions@NYU version of “What You Came Here For.” These records are made out of clear polycarbonate plastic, may be cut into a variety of shapes, and are playable on a standard record player. Most intriguing is the idea of having customized, limited-edition merchandise to commemorate the partnership, and for Tigertown to use for further promotional use.
Moving forward, Village Records recently announced its rebranding and search for talent in a press release. The press team is looking to expand the label’s press relationships beyond the scope of NYU, and has begun contacting New York City-based newspapers and blogs. An additional press release announcing the CMJ Sessions@NYU video single is currently being circulated in the US and Australia. As well, the A&R team has been busy outlining a new system for the label to review artist submissions. The system will streamline the A&R process. Bands will submit a direct link to the Village Records Gmail account so that the label can stream the band’s music online from services such as Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube. If Village Records is interested in the band’s music, they will reply to the band with a link to a Google form so that the label can get to know the band’s goals, past performing experience, and upcoming shows, among other information.
With the semester coming to an end, Village Records will be passing the torch on to a new group of students, who will have the task of carrying on the label’s mission and beginning new projects for the spring. This semester’s students are hard at work with handover reports and presentations to ensure the forward momentum of the label. Village Records’ success in the past months has been due to unfettering support from the NYU community, the independent music scene, and a group of open-minded music industry mentors whose help has brought the label to a new level this fall. The students are grateful for the experience, and look forward to sharing their expertise with a new generation of Village Records students.
Grace Harris is a senior in NYU’s Music Business Program. She currently interns at Nasty Little Man (Feb 2013-present) and Mick Management (Aug 2013-present). She will continue at Nasty Little Man in the new year before graduating in May.
Sarah Segner is a junior in NYU’s Music Business Program. She is an active freelance violinist and has interned with Play On Philly, Weathervane Music, and is currently working with Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra The Knights and, in the spring, with 21C Media Group.