Birds of a Feather FAU Students and One Industry Vet Head Up Hoot Recordings

“1-900-Hustler, Sigel, holla at your boy…What’s the problem shorty?”

The popular Jay-z song thumped from a computer as the rapper’s double platinum album glistened from a plaque over the awe-inspiring office. Almost every inch of the remarkable room was covered with awards. With some of the records the students at FAU’s own Hoot Records are producing, Zager may need a larger office.

Founder of Hoot Recordings, Michael Zager, popped in 50 Cent’s “Rider” track from the new video game Bullet Proof, and explained how artists, including Missy Elliot, have been recently sampling his music. Jay-z and 50 Cent used songs from Zager’s previous band Ten Wheel Drive where he composed, arranged and produced the music. Among his numerous awards and achievements, including producing Grammy Award winners such a Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross, he is an active voice for the support of music education. As a member of the Florida Chapter of the Recording Academy’s Board of Governors, (they also help choose the Grammy winners) Zager recently went to the nation’s capitol to assist the lobbying for music programs.

Zager designed FAU’s Hoot Recordings to be based around the Commercial Music major so students could get real world experience in a classroom setting. Students can choose between three tracks of study such as creative, business or technology. Each track is geared toward the rapidly growing music industry. “We give the students an integrated course of academic studies which goes further than simply attaining knowledge from a text book,” said Zager. Every student in the major is required to study an instrument and be part of the record label’s various committees. The student-run committees range anywhere from producing and engineering to business and marketing. The students also take part in workshops hosted by leading professionals from the music world. Pro Tools pioneer and Latin Grammy Award-winning engineer, mixer and producer Charles Dye is just one of the many people who have lent their vast knowledge to the ambitious minds fueling Hoot Recordings.

To date, the label has put out two albums. The People UpStairs Synchrofunkinicity has been reported by the Barnes & Noble on Glades Road as having an unprecedented profit for any local band to date. Wisdom Recordings, which deals primarily with the projects of music department faculty and is also run by the student committees, offers a state of the art recording studio, pre-production studio, and computer music lab. Wisdom has currently released an album by Dr. Heather Coltman titled Dream Chasers: North American Nightscapes. The hip-hop group G.S.T. is also in the studio working on their new album.

“Our goal is to place as many as our artists in major labels as we can,” said Zager.

The record label is a University club and welcomes all FAU students a chance to be part of the experience. All students have the opportunity to be on the label regardless of major. Music groups and solo artists can drop off their demos at Hoot’s office in AH111 as long as at least one member attends FAU or PBCC.

Hoot Recordings and the FAU Program Board have frequently sponsored open mic night at Wackadoos to scout out new talent. Two acts from the label, G.S.T. and jazz guitarist Pierre, were both discovered at these events. “We want to expose the campus to the artists on the label as well as give an opportunity for artists on campus to show their talents,” said Hoot Recordings’ Student President Marlon Cover.

Hoot Recordings is going full speed ahead with Michael Zager at the helm and eager music students casting their sails into the wind. Each student is engaging in the creation and navigation of a full-service record label. Innovation is only limited by the students’ imaginations.

“Student growth is our main objective,” said Zager. “Profit is of little importance when compared to the learning experience.”