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Brick City Records: New student label offers hands-on industry experience

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 22, 2003) -- On the eve of its 200th birthday, Ohio University is getting its own student-run record label.

Brick City Records' Nate Levin, Scott Rosenblatt and Matt Gerst. Photo by Susana Raab and courtesy of the College of Communication.

Nate Levin, left, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, serves as president of production for the new student record label Brick City Records. He is joined by Scott Rosenblatt, of Livingston, N.J., vice president of client relations, and Matt Gerst, of Rockville, Md., who serves as vice president of administration. All three are seniors in the School of Telecommunications at Ohio University.

Photo by Susana Raab and courtesy of the College of Communication

Brick City Records is a full-service record label and student organization founded by School of Telecommunications students Nate Levin, Scott Rosenblatt and Matt Gerst.

Late last fall, the three began a dialogue that were the beginnings of the young organization. Rosenblatt and Gerst, who plan to attend law school after graduating this spring, were looking for a way to gain legal experience, while Levin was interested in the production and technical aspects of the music industry. The three began meeting with faculty members such as Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies Jeff Redefer.

"They were extremely excited," Redefer remembers. "They wanted to work."

Redefer and others suggested they look into creating a record label.

"The faculty was ecstatic that anyone wanted to take on the project," said Levin, who is now president of Brick City Records. A small group of faculty members, including Redefer, assistant professors Greg Newton and Joe Richie and School of Telecommunications Director Karen Riggs helped get Brick City Records, one of the first student-run, university-sponsored record labels in the country, off the ground.

Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Services Florence "DeeDee" Riffe is also enthusiastic about this organization and the hands-on experience that it will yield.

"I predict that folks in Austin, Texas, will soon be looking over their shoulders to see Athens, Ohio, gaining on them," Riffe said. "I've long been fascinated by the music scene in Athens and am delighted that Nate Levin is taking the lead in creating recording opportunities for the wealth of music talent in this region."

The three founders, all three seniors and management majors in the School of Telecommunications, spent last year and this summer gathering the information and resources necessary to open Brick City Records this fall.

"The biggest problem has been funding," explained Redefer, who serves as the faculty advisor for Brick City.

The university-wide budget cuts left no money for the new record label, so Levin and other founders have been working with the university to contact alumni who may be interested in donating to the organization.

"We have been finding out a lot about how the university works," Levin said of his quest for funding.

Brick City Records is also working on getting some sponsorship from larger corporations and will be partnering with the Blue Gator, an Athens-area restaurant and nightclub, to make every other Tuesday night "Brick City Night," where a portion of the profits will help the organization. The goal, Levin explained, is to have enough funding to have production begin by 2004, and the first Brick City album released in the spring. Any profits garnered will be reinvested in Brick City.

In addition to being a student-run record label, Brick City Records is also a student organization. Rather than make the record label a business endeavor that may make money for the founders but would be gone after they graduate, the three decided to open Brick City up to everyone.

"The university resources were one reason that we wanted to make [Brick City] a student organization, but we also wanted to start something we could leave behind," said Levin, who will graduate after Winter Quarter. "It's disheartening to leave so soon after the beginning, but I am really looking forward to years down the road, when I can see what happened with what we started."

Redefer is confident that Levin, Rosenblatt and Gerst can help point Brick City Records toward success.

"For many years, students have only considered recording from the artistic standpoint," Redefer explained. "However, it's a business, and they understand that. You have to make art, but you also have to make a living."

With Brick City Records, students have the chance to involve themselves in every aspect of the recording business, including scouting talent, producing albums, marketing, promotion and legal and financial business. And students are jumping at that chance. More than 200 students have contacted Brick City with an interest in joining, with a lot of first-year students getting involved.

"The response has been overwhelming," Levin and Rosenblatt explained. "Last year, it was the three of us in an apartment. This year, we have people standing at our meetings, even in the largest rooms in the building."

Meetings have been moved to large lecture halls to accommodate the growing interest in the organization.

One interested student is Amy Sandel, who is currently the events planner for Brick City. Rosenblatt hopes that she and others will be able to rise into leadership positions in the organization.

"We really hope there is a group willing to take on the work after we leave," Levin explained. He and the two other founders want Brick City to be taken seriously, eventually becoming a recognizable force in the Athens music scene.

For information on joining the organization, please contact Nate Levin at brickcity@ohio.edu.

If you would like to become a Brick City sponsor, please contact Heidi Tracy at tracyh@ohio.edu, or check out the first "Brick City Night" at the Blue Gator on Sept. 30.

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