UT students create their own record label

Jonathan Um (KXAN Photo)
Jonathan Um (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the University of Texas at Austin campus this semester, there’s a new resource for students who are looking to pursue careers in music. UTalent Records is a new UT record label — for students by students — looking to connect Longhorns with music opportunities.

The group was founded by UT sophomore Maria Tangarova, who’s been a singer her entire life, but in college she’s pursued a degree in business. UTalent Records began this fall semester, with around 30 Longhorns auditioned of which seven performers were selected as artists.

“One of the most important things for all of us to know is that people can go out there and kill it on stage,” Tangarova said. “We want to help artists who don’t necessarily know how to get discovered in the music industry and help them by getting them the right resources.”

Some artists are rappers, others are percussionists. Some, like first year student Jonathan Um, are looking to break into Austin’s competitive music scene. Um has what he describes as a Ed Sheeran-like pop/ RB style. He believes UTalent has given him the edge to secure performances in Austin by giving him resources for mixing and marketing his work.

“Without UTalent I think it would be really hard for me to find that,” Um said.

Um remembers a point in high school where everything shifted, when he realized that he wanted his passion for music to become a career

“In the end I just want to be an artist, an artist-producer type of thing, and just make it big and get into the music industry and make lots of money so I can pay it all back to my mom!” Um said with a said with a smile.

Nineteen-year-old Um hopes that other universities develop similar record labels.

So far, the artists at UTalent have been networking with those in the Austin music industry, holding discussions with people in the radio world and in the concert production realm. They have regular meetings with committees of UT students with skills in a number of areas, some help the artists with audio mixing, others have skills in producing, and others help the artists to market themselves.

Both the artists and the people on the committees for UTalent Records pay dues of $30 per semester, the rest of the group’s funds are covered through UT Student Government, said Sarah Teng, UTalent’s production director.

“One of the girls who auditioned to be a signing artist, she’s also a percussionist, and she can play all these different kinds of instruments and that’s kind of cool because we can use her for different pieces and different needs that other parts of the group might have,” Teng said.

The students leading UTalent are all business majors. They say that while many of their peers are looking into finance and accounting, they believe this venture is opening doors for them to make careers out of using their business skills in the arts world too.

Tangarova said she hopes that before the time she graduates, she wants to see a UTalent artist signed on by a major record label. Her goal is for UTalent to help get already-talented Longhorns some recognition by big players in the industry.

“Let’s say some huge record label wants to find talent in Austin, I want them to come from like the coast and say, ‘I need to find talent, where do I go? UTalent records has the talent.'”

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