SUNY Oswego's "Music Business" course recently scored with an effort to create a hit song to raise scholarship funds.
"Instead of reading in a textbook about 'this is how you would produce a pop single,' we've just produced a pop single," said Rob Auler, who teaches the class with fellow music faculty member Dan Wood.
The resulting song -- "You Can't Do It Alone" -- performed by Closer Still, consisting of class members Maggie '09 and Maynah Goble '09 -sold more than 100 copies when it debuted at the music department's "Collage" fundraising concert.
The course, part of the arts management minor track, brings together those interested in performing, recording and promoting music. Auler and Wood made it a project-based class, previously promoting "Collage" and the Oswego Jazz Project's debut album.
With the members of Closer Still in the class this semester, "we decided the best way to illustrate the music business was to simulate the music business," Auler said.
At Auler's request, "we brought a couple of lines from the song, a couple of chords . . . to show it to the class," said Maggie, a broadcasting major. "They seemed to like it and felt like this was a direction we could go."
Since college students are a large part of the demographic buying pop records, the rest of the class provided a "lot of input about what they liked, what they wanted to hear," playing the Artist and Repertoire -- or A&R -- role of a record label, Auler said. "It was really the students who were giving us a lot of the leadership. It was kind of a back-and-forth process."
Ken Barden '10, a music major in the class, recorded and mixed the single in the Tyler Hall studio. Business majors priced the single, communication majors helped with publicity and artists with created the design.
Auler provided piano lines and Nate Felty '11 and Andrew Friedman '10 -- music majors not in the class-played drum and bass, respectively.
The music comes with a message as well. "Technology kind of isolates us in a way and a lot of people tend not to think we need to lean on the support of our friends and relationships," Maggie said of a world where young people sometimes hide behind iPods and prefer text-messaging to talking. "I think our generation has kind of lost the idea of real community."
The lyrics by the twins, graduates of Mexico Academy and Central School, touch on real community with Oswego references. "I like the idea of bringing in a story, bringing in specifics so that people have something to tie it into," said Maynah, a sociology and cinema and screen studies major. "It was a tribute to Oswego."
Since Closer Still plans to record more tracks for release this semester, Maggie said the experience of being in the studio, and seeing all the work that went into a marketable single, will prove invaluable.
"This class was kind of a bridge between college and the real world," Maynah said. "It gave us a lot of experience dealing with people and things that you don't really get out of a lecture. It gave all of the students a chance to explore what they're really interested in . . . everyone got really involved."
"You Can't Do It Alone," with proceeds supporting the Music Department Excellence Fund, sells for $2 and is available through Oswego's River's End Bookstore or the band's MySpace page.
-- Tim Nekritz M '05
Maggie '09 and Maynah Goble '09
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