‘Got to Believe’ more than just a slogan

Brittany Thoma

Great expectations for new student record label

Professor Gene Shelton opens his Record Promotions class, which is run by student group GTB entertainment. This semester the class is working on promoting folk band The Speedbumps and breaking a new music act. Elizabeth Myers | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

A new student medium is emerging at Kent State.

Record Promotions was first offered last semester. In the class, students advertise and manage a record label, GTB Entertainment.

Patrick Hawkins, senior general studies major, took the course last semester and said he learned about “the whole octopus” of the record industry.

“Marketing is one tentacle and promotion is another. And the core, the head of it, is the CD we create.”

At the start of the semester, students choose the artists and bands they want under their label. Julia Yuryev, a teaching assistant for the class, said the company’s artists are contained to the area, for now.

“We’re trying to establish the name right now,” Yuryev said, “so it has to start local; it has to start small.”

Once the talent is signed on, the class arranges and promotes a record showcase. This gives the public the opportunity to hear the label’s artists.

The other event the Record Promotions class plans is the CD release party. A compilation CD is produced with all the semester’s talent. Each act picks two songs for the CD. Last semester’s release party took place in May at the Kent Stage.

But before any CD release parties and even before GTB Entertainment got its name, the class was just a stirring idea.

“It was Jeff Fruit’s idea, so I can’t take the credit for it,” said Gene Shelton, the instructor of Record Promotions.

Shelton said Fruit, the director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, looked at Shelton’s background and wanted him to teach a class on how to make a record label successful.

“And I said ‘I can do that,'” Shelton said.

Prior to teaching, Shelton spent 30 years in the record business. He worked for Epic, Columbia and Motown records. Before teaching, the last position Shelton held was as vice-president of media relations for Warner Bros. Records.

Record Promotions was no longer just an idea, it was a reality. Now the company needed a name.

“GTB got its name by class liberation and by popular vote,” Daniel Doherty, president of GTB Entertainment, said. “GTB stands for ‘Got To Believe,’ because in order to be successful in the music industry, you’ve got to believe,”

Although the class is just in its infancy, David Ullman, senior electronic media production major, said the class has aspirations of developing the company.

Hawkins agreed.

“I can definitely see this class pursuing something that could potentially be very, very big,” he said.

Doherty said the main thing he wants is for GTB to become a staple in Kent, an imprint in the community.

As for Shelton, he said he wants to make GTB Entertainment as much a part of student media as TV2 and the Stater. Ultimately, he wants GTB to put one of their groups at the top of the billboard charts.

“To see a big band grow out of Kent would be great. It can happen.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Brittany Thoma at [email protected].