There’s nothing quite like finding a new “underground” artist to listen to, whether you discover them through friends, from a random TikTok or on a Spotify playlist. If you’re on the hunt for some new tunes, look no further than the far side of campus. The Frost School of Music is home to Cane Records, a student-run recording label that helps students artists at UM promote their music and gain industry experience.
Whether it’s putting music on streaming platforms like Spotify or strategizing a song release plan, Cane Records exists to help student artists prepare for a career in music. Each year the organization, which was created in 1993, selects 10 students to “sign.”
For these students, said Cane Records president Ally Moore, this type of support is invaluable.
“We help them with the things they might not know how to do, which includes social media marketing, by making sure everything is cohesive and relates to their brand image as well as many other things,” said Moore, a senior music business major.
With the help of their faculty advisor Guillermo Page, who is an assistant director of the music business and entertainment industries program at Frost, Cane Records has kept up with the ever-changing and growing industry. While Page’s experience as former senior vice president of Sony Music and Universal Music Group allows him to advise the label in making the right decisions in regard to innovating, he said he lets the students call the shots.
“The goal is to add value to their careers, and that is how we ended up with the structure we currently have in Cane Records,” said Page. “I let them run the show because I am not there to tell them how to do things, I am there to guide them.”
From rock to R&B and folk-pop, Cane Records’ artists range in style, sound and persona.
Jeyhan Turker, a senior studying music business and entertainment industries, is one of this year’s artists. His music is a mix of ‘90s R&B, current trap beats and Turkish folk music.
“When working behind the scenes, you have more empathy for those in the business side of the industry,” he said. “Artists can get frustrated by restrictions on their artistry, but working with Cane Records made me realize there are reasons for these actions, and at the end of the day it is to benefit the artist.”
For performers like Turker, diving into live performances is an exciting prospect now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased.
“Our live performance aspect is what really drives us to be our best, and we like to have a lot of fun performing live,” said Jack Dratch, a member of the rock/R&B band Pump Action, also signed to the record label. “We are all craving that live show atmosphere, especially since it has been hard with COVID.”
Performances for promotion are one of the biggest opportunities that Cane Records gives their artists. This includes the music school’s Frost Sounds and HP Productions’ Patio Jams.
Some of the label’s student artists are just starting to get used to playing in front of an audience. Marlei Dismuke is another Cane Records artist with a distinct R&B/Pop sound.
“I had my first gig recently and I feel like that was a really big start,” said the senior. “I’m actually doing something with myself and there are clear-cut goals; before I was just grasping at straws.”
Sydney Altbacker, a senior also on the label who sings folk and pop music artist, said Cane Records is exactly what she needs to become the artist she has always wanted to be.
“They have the tools to help promote your music and help you get on your feet when it comes to self-promotion, getting gigs and creating your artist persona,” she said. “To have someone holding you accountable for deadlines and to come to you with events and opportunities is amazing.”
Cane Record Artist Playlist
Right now these artists are headlining Patio Jams and playing at local coffee shops. But in a few years, you might be attending their sold-out stadium concerts and watching their songs hit the top Billboard charts. So why wait to start listening? If these artists blow up, you’ll have the bragging rights to say you’ve been a fan from the very beginning.
words_aine murray. photo_sharron lou. design_keagan larkins.