Student-run label offers music opportunities, record deals

“You’ll talk to students and they’ll be like, ‘We have a record label?’ They have no idea,” said Cane Records’ President Bailey Usdin.

Cane Records is one of the first college student-run record labels. It was started by students in the Frost School’s Music Business and Entertainment Industries program in 1993 and is an independent label affiliated with the University of Miami. Cane Records is not a student organization with university funding.

“We make our own money; we lose our own money,” Usdin said.
Cane Records operates like any independent record company. It’s involved with all aspects of their signed artists’ albums, from producing to writing contracts to sales and marketing.

And they seem to be doing a good job. In 1997 the label entered into a joint promotion deal with Sister Hazel for their debut album Somewhere More Familiar, which went certified platinum. The band later signed with Universal Records. Cane Records also promoted and distributed Nothing Rhymes With Orange’s album Polite Gothic, and Bill Aucoin, former manager of Kiss and Billy Idol, now represents the band.

In 2007, the label is making changes, and next month they’re looking to sign the next big musical act. Additional changes include staff members receiving academic credit for their work and a recent update to the label’s logo, Web site, mission statement and operational approach.

Accordingly, Cane Records will be reviewing demos before holding auditions this year in order “to act more like a real record label would,” said Megan McClary, Cane Records’ Vice President of Public Relations and Fund Raising.

On-campus auditions for the label’s next musician will be Nov. 16 and off-campus auditions will be Nov. 17. “We’re having off campus auditions for local artists,” McClary said. “We’re trying to branch out and not only support young students but also alumni or anyone that is in the local area and that is unsigned.”

The deadline for demo submissions is Nov. 1. Artists will be given a two-week notice if selected, and the callbacks from the auditions will be invited to perform a showcase at the Flavour nightclub in the Grove.

“Our hopes are to make it more of a performance so that we can see the artists react to the real live audience and that whole nerve-racking experience,” Usdin said.

Last year, Lester Hussie and Brink of Something Beautiful signed with Cane Records after auditioning. Solo act Hussie brings a hip-hop and R&B sound while Brink of Something Beautiful adds a heavy metal element to the label.

Both Hussie and Brink are currently recording albums that will debut sometime this school year. While the terms of contracts cannot be released, all artists are signed to Cane Records in the Frost School of Music’s facilities. Music engineering students are producing to “save money,” McClary said.

With four music majors, three of which are music engineers, the self-recording Brink is an exception. Regardless, the label will still ensure that UM students are present during the process to give feedback.

“It’s our hobby to record basically,” said Brink’s guitarist Tim Stimpson, who believes his band’s album will be released in late February. This is what we want to do and to be signed to a huge label or end up on Warped Tour or something. That would be a dream come true.”

Cane Record’s vision is to serve as an incubator connecting artists to major record labels. “We want an artist who, like us, is serious and passionate about what they do,” Usdin said.

Kimberly Rubenstein may be contacted at

For more information

Visit Artists of all genres are encouraged to send a demo, picture, name, band name, e-mail and phone number to Cane Records Vice President of A&R and Productions Jessie Allen by Nov. 1. Demos can be sent via email link to; submitted to P.O. Box 248165 Coral Gables, FL 33124; or dropped off in VOLPE 204 at the UM Frost School of Music.