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College launches record label to support next generation of creative talent

Lauren Evans, 19-year-old, from Tonypandy

A college in the South Wales valleys has created its very own record label to provide aspiring musicians with a platform to get their music out to the masses.

Coleg y Cymoedd has launched ‘Cymoedd Creative Records’ to give learners studying on its creative music courses the chance to release their own music to the public.

Learners signed to the label will see their songs added to leading music streaming platforms, including Spotify and Amazon Music – thanks to licencing and distribution rights arranged by the college – as well as shared across social media.

The record label is the brainchild of Coleg y Cymoedd music tutors, Scott Jones and Scott Howells, who wanted to give learners the opportunity to showcase their talents to a wider audience and gain professional experience of writing, recording and releasing music.

Scott Jones said: “As part of our music courses, learners have to write and produce their own original music, which they record at our in-house recording facilities. Over the years we have heard so many fantastic original songs that, more often than not, remain saved on a hard drive when they deserve to be heard my more people.

“We wanted to change this and help learners get their creations out there and heard by more people. Getting music onto streaming service can be confusing and difficult so we take care of this through the label, enabling learners to get their first foot on the ladder to a professional music career.

“We are so excited to be launching our own label – doing so will go a long way to giving the amazing talent we have here at the college the platform to showcase their music and grow their audiences.”

Over the years, Coleg y Cymoedd alumni have experienced great success in the music industry with former learners having gone on to win national song writing competitions, achieve radio airplay and be featured on the BBC Horizons programme – an initiative designed to develop new, independent and contemporary music in Wales.

The college plans to release around 10 songs a year. To date, two songs have been released from rock band ‘Deadlines’ and solo artist, Lauren Evans. The 19-year-old, from Tonypandy, has just released her first single ‘Last Goodbye’.

Speaking about the record label, the aspiring star who is currently studying Music Level 3 at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “I’m hoping to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter and think the label will really help me and other musicians to get a foot in the door, providing a good platform to get my music out there.

“I wrote Last Goodbye within a day from my personal experience. It’s about having the courage to cut off toxic relationships and the lyrics are personal and powerful. My music tutors helped me to record it professionally using the college studio facilities. They have all supported me since day one – they believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and with hard work and determination, here I am with my first ever single out on Spotify and Apple Music.

“Being on streaming platforms has given me so much more exposure. Last Goodbye has even been playlisted, which is really exciting as it will now reach even more people!

“I think it’s a good thing for new musicians too because once your music is out there, you are inspired to make more. I’m now currently in the process of writing and recording an EP which will be a different style of music and hopefully be out towards the end of the year.”

The college has set up a team of learners who are responsible for managing music releases and social media posts. The team meets up every fortnight – now done virtually – to decide what songs are released next as well as discuss promotion and marketing strategies.

During the lockdown, the label has also provided learners with an outlet to focus their attention on, motivating them to continue writing and creating their own music from home. Tutors at the college are still encouraging learners to send raw music files to them which they will mix and produce into polished, finished songs on their behalf.

Scott added: “We are still mixing learners’ music and getting them onto the label which is helping to engage learners and push them get creative and productive during the lockdown.”

Coleg y Cymoedd was the first Welsh college to provide Rock School music qualifications – industry renowned qualifications that have produced some of the biggest names in the charts including Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora and Jess Glynne.

The Rock School Diploma for Music Practitioners course at Coleg y Cymoedd aims to give learners an understanding of everything they need to know about the music industry as well as practical experience that will equip them with the skills needed for a career in music.