By Gabe Fernandez
Two University of Maryland students are looking to bring the school’s first ever record label to campus.
Mike Houser, a senior mechanical engineering major, and Nick Arnold, a junior communications major, met last semester at a WMUC Radio Third Rail, a weekly concert hosted in the radio station’s live room, and found they shared a common skillset and passion for the more technical side of music.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with music so I took a bunch of audio and musical engineering classes in case the music I was making at the time didn’t take off,” Arnold said. “When Mike mentioned he wanted to start this record label, we linked up and that’s how we got started.”
The duo also discovered that a lot of their knowledge in the field of audio engineering and music business came from hands-on experiences. Arnold got his start from a DJ business in high school while Houser started when he was appointed the station manager at WMUC his freshman year. Both wanted to take the music technical skills they had both learned over the years and apply them in a larger context.
“We thought it’d be cool to start a club where we could sort of benefit the surrounding community and teach people some of the skills we’ve learned over the past couple years,” Houser said.
As a result, the Terrapin Record Label was born. The college record label would not be the first of its kind on a national scale. Both Temple and Drexel University in Philadelphia each have their own campus record labels. Temple’s label, Bell Tower Records, even produced the first album of one of Houser’s favorite bands, Mo Lowda & the Humble.
Both Houser and Arnold hope the Terrapin Record Label can fill a void the university has in terms of music business and music talent.
“The University of Maryland has an extremely vacant spot in terms of music business and I think this could be a very beneficial club to help fill that void,” Houser said.
“There’s a lot of potential and talent here at UMD to fill that void that’s not just in music business, but also in artist culture,” Arnold said. “We need to utilize the community and energize them to get their music out and bring attention to the shows in and outside of campus to help make artists as big as they should be.”
Much like the record labels at other universities, the Terrapin Record Label would look to provide artists with assistance in recording, promotion and other managerial services, according to the two founders. Sometimes the assistance can even come in the next step of artist development as Arnold explained.
“I’ve met a handful of people already who have all of these songs and I’ve asked, ‘So what are you going to do with these?’ And they say, ‘Oh i’m not sure, I just have them here,’” Arnold said. “They have all of this great music on their computer when there are so many people who would love to hear it and see them performed.”
They also want to create space for those who want to be involved in the organization as non-artists who are just interested in gaining experience in music industry-like tasks.
“There will be a fairly good number of people needed for promotional material,” Houser said. “There will also be a need for people who are good with videography, photography and graphic design and to make sure that people get branded correctly.”
“There are a lot of different areas we’re trying to cover for involvement but the idea is mostly development,” Arnold said. “In every aspect of this label, we want to open it up and have it more be a learning, give-and-take experience for everyone, not just the artists, but also the members.”
Ultimately, both Houser and Arnold have made it clear their goal is not to get everyone on campus to listen to one genre, even one label. They just want to make a meaningful impact in the musical community of College Park and the surrounding D.C. Metro area in terms of support.
“The dream is that everyone on campus at least knows that we can be a source that artists and bands can go to,” Arnold said. “You know where to go if you want to get a record done and recorded. We want to keep people in the know that this is a thing that exists that will help artists as much as it can and if we could do that, that’d be great.”
“For the record label itself I want to support local artists who are really talented but might not have the funds to go forth and produces a record and advertise themselves or have the knowledge base to put something together,” Houser said. “Five years from now, I hope we’re still getting bands and artists from the university and the larger DMV area, and promoting bands and artists in a way they couldn’t have done themselves.”
Featured Photo Credit: Mike Houser (left) and Nick Arnold (right) hope to create the first on-campus record label at the University of Maryland. (Gabe Fernandez/Bloc Photographer)
Gabe Fernandez is a senior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.