Appalachian State University has been good about creating hands-on programs and degrees for students that allow them to learn a business in real time.
Legends night club, for instance, still ranks as the nation’s only student-run music venue in the country.
On a different side of the equation, ASU’s Hayes School of Music created the Split Rail Records label in 2007, and it has given students a chance to learn various sides of the music business in a hands-on way. The label gives local university-connected bands a place to record their music and an outlet to release their albums to the rest of the world.
On Dec. 3, the students and teachers/advisors of Split Rail Records will celebrate the last day of the semester by hosting a fundraising concert at Ransom Pub. The show will feature seven bands and will be a fundraising effort fueled by live music from bands connected to the High Country. The lineup will include Barefoot Modern, Lowercase Numbers, Free Shrugs, Aphrodite’s Homework, Max Marotta, Those Dogs and Mac Greer.
The current President of Split Rail Records is Elora Dash. Hailing from Chapel Hill, she is a Music Industries major at ASU with a concentration in Marketing and Promotion, and she is also a member of the bands Foxy Moron and Aphrodite’s Homework.
“With Split Rail Records, I am in charge of external communications, communicating with members of the community who we want to reach out to and work with and advising on the events that we are doing,” said Elora Dash. “We have discussions with the whole class and have executive meetings on how to get the Split Rail name out there. My role is to make sure that everything is moving smoothly. We have someone who is in charge of legal stuff and contracts and we have a VP of Marketing who does the social media. We are all students, but we are under the supervision of the Department Advisor Kim Wrangler and our new faculty member Dave Brewer. I think it is cool that we are working with both of them because we have been able to more projects this semester than in past semesters.”
The goal this semester has been get the Split Rail Records name out there so that bands will consider signing with the entity and making records with the label.
“We want musicians to know that we are a school record company and to know that we provide opportunities for local bands,” said Dash. “Right now, Barefoot Modern is a local band that signed with Split Rail. So, we have spent a lot of time brainstorming on new events to produce. That can be hard, as not everyone takes the second semester of this class, but thankfully most of the students will, so I am hoping that we will be able top out on a few more shows after the new year. We also hope to add an artist or band to our roster. But that also means building ourselves up so that people trust us to do a good job with their product.”
Basically, the record label is working to renew and position itself to go to the next level. That is not easy, however, considering that new students come into the program every fall semester.
“The thing is, we are all only in this program for a year and then a new group of students comes in,” said Dash. “I personally hope that Dave Brewer stays on with the program and continues to give us his knowledge to the next group of people who will take it on.”
The upcoming Split Fest music show on Dec. 3 is a community effort to help the program sustain itself.
“Split Fest is our main fundraiser for this semester,” said Dash. “It will be like a mini-festival with seven bands all playing about 35-minute sets. They are all local bands, and my band, Aphrodite’s Homework, will be performing as well. We will also have a mini-pop up shop that night where we will have arts and craft vendors selling their goods. The cover at the door is only $5, and all of the proceeds will go to the Split Rail program so that we can complete projects for the upcoming semester. We want to work with local bands and do community projects and everything else in the pipeline. We also need to get more merchandise like Split Rail stickers, hats and maybe shirts so we can get our name out there and add more money to the funds account.”
Even if you stop into Split Fest for a little while, you will be helping a good, pro-active cause for local students.
“The event will begin at 7 p.m. with the music beginning at 8 p.m.,” said Dash. “We will have people there selling their art, doing fairy hair and henna art and more, so I think it will be a fun show.”