“I think we are just scratching the surface…“
Those words by Professor Denise Shackelford perfectly sums up the idea of Match Records. Being a student in MTSU’s Recording Industry program, even I was surprised to find out that we had our own record label.
Throughout MTSU’s history, there have been multiple student-operated record labels. Match Records was originally founded in 2012-2013, but after the founder left, the label went dormant. However, in the fall of 2019, Match Records was resurrected to become the operation we see today.
Match Records falls under two classes in the RIM program: Record Label Operations (RIM 4820), and Record Retail Operations (RIM 4720). Both are taught by Professor Denise Shackelford, who has spent many years in multiple industry departments such as artist management, entertainment law and promotion.
“I would say that Match Records is a student-run record label at MTSU, but it operates a little differently than mainstream record labels. We do not have the large amount of funds record labels typically have, so we mainly focus on promoting our artists and getting them scheduled for performances and interviews around campus,” explained Brittany Farrar, one of the two student co-managers at Match during the Spring semester.
“[Match is a] multi-genre, student-run record label services company. [Match] provides…whatever a student artist needs…at that particular moment,” Shackelford added.
At Match, the students learn from the artists and get hands-on experience. And students make all of the decisions. The class is a great way to gain experience and get a sense of what working at a label is really like.
“It gives them hands-on training. When you walk into your first job, be it at a label or someplace else, you will be able to say with confidence, ‘Hey, I took this course that was like a job and these are some of the things we did,’” said Shackelford.
“Match gives RIM students a foundation for how a record label operates. There are different departments so there really is something for everyone. Plus, Dr. Shackelford used to work at Arista Records, so she offers some great insight and guidance to how a large record label operates,” Farrar said.
The label also gives its students and its artists many amazing opportunities. Whether it’s professional photos, interviews, or concerts, Match finds ways to help their artists grow and move forward in their careers. By helping the artists, the students grow as well.
“Students can work in a department they want to know more about. They also get to be a part of label meetings with the rest of the team and present any ideas they have for artists or the label. Working with Match allows students to have a little more creative freedom than a traditional class, and new ideas are always welcome,” Farrar, who co-manages the label with John Cantor explained.
When asked what her favorite thing about Match Records is, Farrar said. “I really enjoyed learning and understanding how different areas of a record label operate. I enjoy doing “a little bit of everything,” so getting to be a manager this semester was great for me because I had the ability to work with all the departments.”
Each semester, Match allows artist submissions. Through these submissions, Match decides what artist(s) to sign and work with. If you are interested, keep an ear out at the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester for the announcement. When you submit, you will be asked for biographical information, links to social media, a recording of a song and a video. Match Records will help you as an artist based on the level you’re at, and they will provide you with whatever services are needed.
“Even though Match doesn’t really have a budget, we can still do many things to help our artists at no cost to them. We can do radio pitching, schedule artists for performances and interviews around campus, as well as provide support on projects they’re working on. Since Match is so small and we only have a handful of artists, we’re very fortunate to be able to tailor our services to what our artists need.” Farrar said.
“When I look down our hallway in Bragg, I see all of the departments at a record label. There’s journalism, there’s video, there’s radio, there’s… copyright law… there’s everything that a record label has in our hallway. So, we are kind of this mini record label system even though we’re a university,” Shackleford said. “ I think we are just scratching the surface in finding ways to collaborate between departments and between disciplines on all of these.”
Match Records is student-operated and has many opportunities for growth and success. Whether you’re a RIM student wanting to work in the industry and get hands-on experience, or an artist pushing to reach the next level, Match Records is a great way to achieve your goals. Click here for more information on Match Records.
Author Nicole Alexander is currently an undergraduate student in the Recording Industry Program in the College of Media and Entertainment.