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AEMMP Records supports diverse range of artists

Ruby Henson


Since its founding in 1982, AEMMP Records has offered music business students and creatives the opportunity to help operate a functional record label, as the longest-running college record label nationwide.

The Record Label Practicum course is offered each semester with the option to attend South by Southwest (SXSW) in the spring. Students who take the course are involved in every step of the process of signing and working with artists, including artists and repertoire (A&R) work.

“We are doing everything from creating new master recordings, organizing those studio sessions, distributing the music through Ingrooves, marketing the music [and] running social media,” said Associate Professor Alexander Fruchter, who teaches the course. “AEMMP throws events, open mics, open beat-making sessions, partnering with outside collaborators on events or sponsorships.”

Senior music business major Melina Ortiz said the class has allowed her to learn better communication skills between artists and other professionals. Her group is currently working on completing a single by their newly signed “electronic emo” artist Star Student.

Star Student is the stage name of Jacob Cocking, a junior audio arts major, who signed with AEMMP this fall. Cocking said his experience working with his assigned team has been “valuable.”

“That’s cool, just gaining perspective on what outside help could do for my project, given the workload I am already managing on top of that,” Cocking said.

Most recording and production occurs outside of Columbia, according to Fructher, due to a “disconnect” between the audio and business departments, though he’d “love it” if they collaborated more.

“Majority of the recording is done at random various studios. What’s great about AEMMP, too, is almost every semester I have students that are audio engineers, some have their own studio setups,” Fruchter said.

Aside from securing recording spaces and engineers, one of Fruchter’s biggest challenges is the constant turnover of students. The course is repeatable, but most students only take one semester.

“It’s almost like starting a label from scratch every single fall semester,” Fruchter said. “So in the fall, we want to set goals, the students get acclimated to things and then we try to hit the ground running.”

Making connections with other young and more experienced professionals is one of the highlights of the course, Oritz said.

“It’s allowing me to really understand how to communicate with the artists and then communicate with people in your field,” she said.

In addition to the diversity of students in the classroom, AEMMP allows artists from outside of Columbia to sign with the label as well as students themselves. Contracts usually do not extend past one year and are non-exclusive, meaning the artists are free to work with other organizations or other record labels, though copyright ownership of music released by AEMMP remains with the label.

Regardless, Cocking said it was worth it to give over those rights for the opportunities the label could offer him.

“If I’m losing the rights to a single song, in exchange for the labor of a few talented individuals, and for a new experience, it’s kind of a necessary evil, I guess,” he said.

Jalyn Burton, known by her stage name Oxvy.Moron (pronounced oxymoron), is a class of 2022 music business graduate and signed as an artist at AEMMP for about two years while still studying at Columbia.

Burton said she had a lot of control over what projects she chose to work on during her time with the label and ended up creating an EP, “Indecisive Introvert,” with the help of AEMMP’s resources.

“I had access to studio time and that’s a really huge thing for artists. I didn’t have to pay for any studio time,” Burton said. “I was also able to get a photographer to get new artist pictures done and I got to keep all of those pictures.”

Burton describes her music as “alternative rap,” with 1980s influences. She is still active within the music scene on both the artist and business professional sides.

AEMMP is currently expanding its repertoire of rock artists and more experimental genres within the hip-hop and alternative styles. AEMMP’s array of artists represents the very diverse Columbia community, Fruchter said.

“They’re trying to find music and artists that take some of the best qualities of Columbia College, the collectiveness, the diversity,” he said. “I think Columbia is where a lot of students — where they might not fit in elsewhere — fit in here.”

Spanish Digest

Como el sello discográfico universitario más antiguo de la ciudad, AEMMP Records, fundada en 1982, ha servido a la comunidad de Columbia y de Chicago por más de 40 años. El curso universitario “Record Label Practicum” ayuda tanto a los jóvenes profesionales del negocio de la música como a los artistas musicales. El sello discográfico ha ofrecido a los alumnos la oportunidad de manejar un sello discográfico operativo. Los estudiantes que toman el curso están involucrados en cada paso del proceso de firma y trabajar con artistas. 

“Estamos haciendo de todo, desde la creación de nuevas grabaciones maestras, la organización de sesiones de estudio, la distribución de la música a través de ‘Ingrooves,’ la comercialización de la música [y] la gestión de las redes sociales”, dijo el profesor asociado Alexander Fruchter, quien imparte el curso.

Melina Ortiz, estudiante de último año de negocios musicales, dijo que la clase le ha permitido desarrollar sus habilidades de comunicación entre artistas y otros profesionales.

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About the Contributors
Izzie Rutledge
Izzie Rutledge, Former Reporter
irutledge@columbiachronicle.com   Izzie Rutledge is a senior journalism major, minoring in music business. She has covered Chicago's music scene, Columbia's student population and metro events, like NASCAR. She worked for the Chronicle from May 2023 through December 2023.   Hometown: St. Louis, Miss.    
Ruby Henson
Ruby Henson, Former Illustrator
rhenson@columbiachronicle.com   Ruby Henson is a senior illustration major and has created graphics for artificial intelligence, campus issues and first-year student retention stories. They worked for the Chronicle from August 2023 through December 2023.   Hometown: Austin, Tex.