RIT students gain industry insight with Tiger Records

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

Rochester Institute of Technology students have been able to take music lessons for years, but now they can learn more about the music industry by taking a class about artist management, recording, production and marketing.

Tiger Records, which is based in Annex 7, a temporary building between Brown and Ross halls, is where students may take their class, rehearse and eventually record their music. 

Four students are taking the class this semester. The course, part of the School of Individualized Study, includes topics such as artist management, recording and production, marketing and the business side of being a professional musician.

“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, visiting lecturer for music business and performing arts initiatives in the Department of Performing Arts in the College of Liberal Arts.

President David Munson pushed to provide more options to attract more students who can pursue their love of performing while earning a non-music degree at RIT, according to Stabnau.

“Everybody wants to be a rock star at some point,” he said. “The arts are something everyone wants to participate in, 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. So, if we can’t provide that experience, students will go somewhere else. 

“Here at RIT, students will see that being a singer or songwriter and, at the same time, being an engineer can be a viable career path. They can come to RIT to get the best of both. There are not a lot of universities that provide that support structure for students.” 

The record label will provide support for student-run bands to help them with their image, social media and production.

Stabnau said more than 50 students are using the nearly 1,000 square foot space in Annex 7, which is being outfitted with furniture, signage, logos, a recording studio and a speaker system. The space can be used for rehearsals; 10 student bands currently rehearse there, usually in the evenings and on weekends. A website is also in the works that will feature recordings from students.

“It will be a place where you can meet all of the bands on campus,” Stabnau said.

Although there are students involved in Tiger Records who play jazz fusion and heavy metal, and groups featuring a jam band and acoustic duo singers, Stabnau expects the bulk of the interest from students will be commercial and contemporary music, including rock ‘n’ roll.

He hopes more students will get involved with Tiger Records and they will have more space to expand when the proposed Performing Arts Complex is built, the first phase scheduled for completion in spring 2023.

“I’d love to see 100 students taking Tiger Records courses,” Stabnau said. “Our goal with the label is to be a place where everybody who wants to be in music can participate and turn this into the hub of commercial music on campus. I can foresee students breaking off into creative design, recording and producing, artist management, live show promotion, financing and business. However they envision being part of the music industry, this will help them achieve it.”

Rochester Institute of Technology students Jared MacKenzie, left, of Geneseo, and Anthony Roberts, of Chittenango, founded their band, Tzars of NY, last semester. They are taking courses to learn about the business of the music industry and practice each week in the Tiger Records studio.