And they needed something to call this
endeavor. After throwing around names
that seemed clever but less accessible, the
retro-sounding Vinyl Records was suggested. The group appreciated the simplicity and catchiness of the name, so it stuck.
From there, the record label transformed from an idea to an actual entity, but
not without sacrifices from all involved.
But they seem to be heading in the
right direction.Vinyl Records hosted what
they coined a “September Showdown” last
fall, inviting musicians and students to participate in the inaugural stages of the
organization. Bands and artists performed,
and students voted on who they liked best.
The plan was to pick the best two, but
after a student body vote with almost
“It’s amazing what you can accomplish
when you don’t sleep,” Gobble said, laughing.
And they haven’t done it alone.Vinyl
Records has received both monetary and
emotional help from the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative.
2,000 votes cast, three acts — all involving
at least some part of the UNC student
body with a home base in the Triangle —
Apollo, a hip-hop artist; the rock band
Lake Inferior; and Lafcadio, an
alt-rock trio, were the first musicians named to the Vinyl
CEI is a part of the Kenan
what you can
Institute for Private Enterprise at
the Kenan-Flagler Business
School. Its aim is to provide
education for those with entrepreneurial aspirations and help
them grow with anything from
money to mentoring. CEI does
not limit its outreach to business school
students. Good thing, because Gobble,
Mask and Kennerly are majoring in environmental studies, journalism and music,
you don’t sleep.’
The big fundraising break
came when Gobble won the
Race to BE Creative Entrepreneurial Challenge, hosted by the
Kaufman Foundation in Austin,
Texas, in November.
It was a whirlwind couple of days in
which he presented the Vinyl Records
idea, met with bigwigs in the music industry and hung out with hip-hop mogul
Vinyl Records was one of only two
ideas to earn the CEI Innovations Fund
Grant in 2008, receiving a match for every
$5,000 they raise, up to $25,000.
But, most important, he won $5,000.
After weeks stealing time between
classes and sacrificing their social lives
while poring over detailed plans of ways to
get Vinyl to the masses, Gobble, Kennerly
and Mask had something solid to show for
their efforts. Armed with that desire and
the motivation of getting their hands on
the grant money, the three friends-turned-business partners worked fast.
Next came the nitty-gritty of matching
funding with talent: thousands of fliers stapled to light posts, hundreds of press
releases printed and sent out, music
And after an album release party for all
three musicians in January at Local 506 on
Franklin Street, the group earned even
more matchable money.
First, 115 students showed up at an
interest meeting to be a part of what they
hoped would become Tar Heel history. The
partners learned quickly one of the realities
of business when they had to whittle interested parties down to a manageable force.
The group also is hoping to hone the
“music incubator” side of things by providing tutorials and music mentors for aspiring musicians on campus.
They formed a group of about 15 people to manage everything from music production to graphic design.
After initial success in Chapel Hill,
Gobble said Vinyl plans to take its idea on
the road, providing the same service for
musicians at other universities. And if nothing else, the wish is for Vinyl Records to
always have a home at Carolina even after
its creators graduate.
“None of us have done this before, so
it’s completely new,” Kennerly said. “We’re
all just kind of making it up as we go.”
Said Gobble, “I think UNC has already
seen benefits from it, and that can only
continue to blossom.”
— Beth Mechum
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