Spreading their musical messages in District 196

Student develops label to unleash the potential in her classmates

Jack Mooradian plays guitar in the studio of the student-run record label Overtone Audio Productions. The studio at the School of Environmental Studies serves primarily as the classroom for the music production class. Photo by Tad Johnson
Jack Mooradian plays guitar in the studio of the student-run record label Overtone Audio Productions. The studio at the School of Environmental Studies serves primarily as the classroom for the music production class. Photo by Tad Johnson
Emily Pauly, a senior at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, sits in the studio for Overtone Audio Productions — a record label she founded at the school. Photo by Tad Johnson
Emily Pauly, a senior at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, sits in the studio for Overtone Audio Productions — a record label she founded at the school. Photo by Tad Johnson

For some Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District students, making music is a part of every day.

While playing in school groups fulfills a part of that passion, there’s nothing quite like creating one’s own song.

Emily Pauly, a senior at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, was so impressed with some of the music her classmates were creating that she wanted to share their talents with a larger audience.

As a junior, Pauly laid the groundwork of making Overtone Audio Productions a bona fide record label, which launched its website and free music downloads this month.

“I like for people to be supported when they are truly into something and it’s something they love,” Pauly, of Eagan, said during an interview in the school’s music production classroom last week. “It’s like hearing music from the ’60s or ’70s when you could hear true passion. It is great to be part of something larger. I’ve always been business-minded and entrepreneurial.”

SES student musicians like Jack Mooradian, whose home high school is Eagan, have embraced the opportunity.

“It was so cool to be able to make my own music, so I’m extremely grateful,” Mooradian said of Pauly’s work to launch the label.

Pauly’s teacher has been impressed that she’s been able to turn a concept into a reality.

“To take this record label idea to having a website up and artists signed, it is tremendous,” music production teacher Jeremy Bartlet said.

With a fully functioning studio already available to her, Pauly went to work on the logistics of setting up a record label as part of the music production class’s year-end project.

She had to create a name, logo, website, marketing plan and contract process for signing artists.

There isn’t any money changing hands as part of the contract, which also serves as an application for students to tell Pauly about themselves and their music.

In an effort to ensure quality and appropriate content, the contract details stipulations for the artists to follow.

“There is a slight box that you have to fit into,” Bartlet said.

He said he’s been impressed with Pauly’s ability to say no to some applicants.

“That’s all part of the music business,” he said.

She said the biggest challenge has been getting the word out that the studio space is available, though there are limitations since it is used as a classroom during the day and needs to be staffed after school hours.

To market that the recording space and label were available to District 196 students, she communicated her marketing materials throughout the high schools.

In addition to Mooradian, the label has signed six other artists in the genres of R & B, alternative and rap and hip-hop.

The students’ and their home high schools include: Elaina McRath of Rosemount; Sed Hassan of Eastview; Allie Maas, Sed Hassan, Josh Groven and Kevin Lee, all of Eagan; and Joe Mendes who is an SES student from Farmington.

“They are setting the tone for what we will hear in the future,” said Pauly, whose home high school is Eastview. “Having students helping students getting their music out there is kind of powerful.”

“I didn’t know I would get this far,” Mooradian said of releasing a single for download.

He said he’s been playing music since he was about 10 and has some family members who have been musicians. In the past three years, he’s been working on recording some songs at home but they haven’t received the kind of exposure they are now.

“I’m still trying to work out the kinks,” Mooradian said. “People ask me what kind of genre the music is and I can’t tell them one. I pull inspiration from a lot of different kinds of music.”

Currently, he says he’s been listening to a lot of R & B and Michael Jackson.

While Overtone has a stable to artists, Pauly’s main focus is marketing the website to let people know the music is available for free download.

The first week there were 550 song downloads, which Pauly says is pretty good.

Bartlet said Pauly has done most of the work on the project independently, which is what he likes to see in class.

Since the skill level of students is all over the range, he helps them move at their own pace.

Since most students have already been tinkering with the recording software since it’s widely available on most computer systems, Bartlet said he focuses the class more on the music industry as a whole and the job opportunities available in it.

“I give them the tools to figure out the music industry,” Bartlet said. “That is what it is all about.”

He said he emphasizes that they have to be multifaceted learning the skills about each phase of the industry.

Pauly has put many of those phases into action through Overtone, whose future she says in undetermined.

“I don’t know how big it can get,” she said.

If the start of the project is any indication, people might be hearing a lot more from District 196 students in the future.

More about the label is at http://overtoneaudioprodu.wix.com/2016.

Contact Tad Johnson at [email protected] or at twitter.com/editorTJ.