STORY BY HANNAH KEISKER
The Des Moines Social Club (DSMSC) is partnering with Drake University to launch a non-profit record label in April.
The label is called Station 1 and will give students hands-on experience to learn the process of the music industry. This will begin as a January term class in 2016 and could turn into a major or concentration, depending on the popularity of the course.
Tobi Parks works for Sony Music in New York as the Director of Copyright for Columbia Records and Epic Records. She conceived the idea of a record label after she and her partner decided they wanted to move to a quieter city to raise their children. She reached out Zach Mannheimer, the executive director of the DSMSC.
Mannheimer said there’s a lot of musical talent in Des Moines, but not a lot of options for musicians. He wants to use Station 1 to keep young people in the area by offering them exciting career opportunities.
Parks said students would get more action at Station 1 than at an internship for a large music corporation. She said students’ ideas would be put into action and could really formulate how the label runs.
“The genesis of this came out of collaboration and out of a sense of community, and I know that Drake is such a huge part of Des Moines and is such a big part of the overall community that it seemed like a natural fit,” Parks said.
Carlyn Crowe, visiting assistant professor and internship coordinator at Drake, was contacted by Parks in search of interns for the label.
Although the curriculum hasn’t fully been decided, the course or concentration would include an interdisciplinary education between multiple schools at Drake.
Classes for the concentration would include studies in public relations, promotions, marketing, recording audio and business classes to study how to financially organize a company.
Parks said there’s not a lot of overlap between business, journalism and music students.
“This would be a magnet to bring all of those different elements together so you can have cross-collaboration across different schools and business areas,” Parks said.
Mannheimer said the ultimate goal is for Station 1 to help make Des Moines a cultural mecca. He said the music scenes in cities like Austin, Portland and Seattle helped bolster their economy.
“I think Station 1 has the ability to jumpstart that. It can’t do it alone, but it could do it in concert with a whole lot of other things,” Mannheimer said.
Parks said the DSMSC plans to raise money for the non-profit label through fundraising and donations. They also received a grant for Station 1. The partnership with Drake will help solve staffing problems to counteract the low budget of the organization.
The label currently has three bands signed to it: Holy White Hounds, MAIDS and Fields Division. Parks said an important aspect of Station 1 is educating the band members. Then, they understand what they’re getting into and can make smart business decisions.
“The idea of doing a record label where it’s focused basically just on the artist and building the artist and building the culture and art scene of a city is way different than focusing on the bottom line of a corporation,” Parks said.
Crowe said she has asked people about their thoughts on the label and no one has had anything negative to say.
“It’s something new and different. There are not a lot of other places, certainly not in this area, that are doing anything like it,” Crowe said.