Outside a Grand Union suite, a group of restless students strum away at guitars, heads ducked down into their chests as they quietly sing to themselves. The anxiety in the air is high as each individual hopes they’ll be one of the select few to be signed to UTalent Records.
The student run record label is new this semester and aims to provide hands on experience to students with a passion for music. Maria Tangarova, a finance sophomore and creator of UTalent, said she started the organization because she felt there was a lack of resources at UT for its many student musicians.
“I created UTalent records kind of as a home for people like that,” Tangarova said.
The organization signs student artists to their label, helps them produce their music, lock down gigs anwd teaches them how to market themselves to music producers.
“There’s so many people that love to sing or play something,” Tangarova said. “They are just shy about getting their face out there.”
Sarah Teng, a management information systems junior and UTalent’s financial director, made it clear that UTalent was meant to be a safe space for young artists. The organization is meant to allow students to get their bearings and learn about the music industry without fear of getting cheated, something that is commonly associated with a record deal.
“We’re really just providing that experience beforehand,” Teng said. “It’s just a good way for people to be confident here and feel safe here before they want to get into the real world.”
Tangarova said the organization has a lot to offer students, but it nonetheless is taking a while to get off the ground. Although UTalent is currently comprised of only an executive board and two signed artists, Tangarova expects that number to grow due to their recent casting call.
“We’re trying to get our name out there,” Tangarova said. “Doing everything ourselves has been obviously time consuming, but it’s all worth it in the end I think.”
For Michael Duhaime, an international relations and global studies freshman who is signed with UTalent, the fact that the organization is still in its infancy has actually been beneficial.
“A lot of people in the industry get very set in how they do things,” Duhaime said. “(At UTalent) everyone is kind of learning at the same time.”
Duhaime, who recently played at Lost in Austin — an activity fair for freshmen — said signing with UTalent Records has provided him with more opportunities to do the thing he loves and has given him more access to the world of music.
“It’s pretty hard to manage yourself as one person, one musician always trying to find places to play, getting plugged in with this,” Duhaime said. “All of a sudden, you know people who know other people who work for venues or who are always looking for musicians.”
Tangarova said her goal is ultimately to turn UTalent into a well-known place for larger record labels to find and sign artists.
“I want producers from LA and New York to come to Austin, Texas and to ask ‘Where is this talent coming from?’” Tangarova said.