For some Yalies, a cappella jams, the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween show and folk trio Plume Giant may seem to comprise the undergraduate music scene on campus. Nascent campus record label 17O1 Records is striving to highlight less well-known talent.
After releasing its first compilation of songs by independent Yale musicians last April, the label will conclude accepting submissions for its second album in late January. With the record’s upcoming release and a slew of new initiatives, members of 17O1 Records said the organization aims to provide a more consistent support system for campus artists having difficulty gaining an audience for their own work and performances.
“17O1 was founded [in 2010] because a whole lot of talent on campus was not getting promoted, and we wanted to fix that,” said 17O1 Records President Martin Weaver ’12. He added that he wants Yale musicians to think of 17O1 Records first when brainstorming ways to reach larger audiences.
Carson Weinand ’13, 17O1’s director of marketing and promotion, said the label’s recently redesigned website will act as a hub for Yale music with the addition of schedules of tour dates and regular updates from acts.
“We hope to be more than a release platform,” Weaver said.
The number of submissions 17O1 received last year and so far this year has been surprising, said Jacob Reske ’14, the label’s sound engineer.
“I was floored at the amount of people you just don’t know about, because there’s been a lack of connection between arists, engineers and promoters,” he added.
Weinand, who is a member of the group High Definition, said Yale artists are currently not very vocal about their work. Weinand added that some artists may not be inclined to promote their own music or are unaware of channels beyond Facebook and MySpace.
“We have plenty of musicians, but they maybe aren’t that good at promoting themselves,” said singer-songwriter Rich Gilliland ’13 of the band No, We’re Not. He added that people often do not know when or where certain bands are performing, and that centralized advertising by 17O1 Records may help musical acts.
Promoting their music is not at the top of student musicians’ lists, Weaver said, because they often choose to focus on other priorities, like the demands of academic coursework.
Some artists said, however, that unknown musicians also need better community outlets to make a name for themselves.
Musician Jake Backer ’14 of the band The Rain Brigade said that other organizations including Yale’s WYBC radio station have often been unable to give students the platform they need.
“The WYBC needs to be more regular with shows at [its off-campus venue] The Cavity and more avid about publicity,” he said. Backer added he has, however, noticed an increase in WYBC’s activity since the beginning of the year.
Gilliland said bands lack a regular forum to perform before substantial crowds outside the annual Yale College Council-sponsored Battle of the Bands. The three finalists in the competition perform as the opening acts at Spring Fling later in the year.
“17O1 Records is the kind of resource that hasn’t been around for private musicians at Yale,” Gilliland said.
In addition to making connections between musicians and audiences, Weaver said, the label will establish a fluid relationship with artists, helping them find new members if one leaves, for instance, and promoting their work beyond the initial album release. This help extends to artists whose tracks do not make it onto 17O1’s annual album.
A consistent relationship with the record label may address musicians’ concerns about a regular way to air their music. Backer said that while 17O1’s annual album is a good idea, a one-off record is not enough to create a community to create a community and sustain the level of independent musical activity on campus.
“To make a culture of independent rock and pop artists happen, there need to be shows and a cultural change,” said Backer.
Once all submissions are received, the label will narrow them down to a selection of 12 tracks, Reske said. The tracks will then be polished in Yale studios, he added, before being sent for professional mastering. The label’s funding derives from the Office of the Dean of Arts and the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, Weaver said.
“Most musicians submitting to this call wish they could afford better equipment and mastering services,” Gilliland said. “It’s basically a blessing.”
Weinand said the second 17O1 Records album is scheduled to be released around the time of Spring Fling, near the end of the semester. He described last year’s album, “Blue Noise,” as a blend of soft rock and strong vocals, with a “hipster edge.”
Eight hundred copies of last “Blue Noise” were downloaded free from the label’s website.