ANDERSON — As his high school graduation grew near, Sam Schmidt channeled his feelings about moving on into song. The Warsaw teenager didn’t expect to be in Gaither Studios, recording it with an award-winning producer just a few short months later.
But the quick introduction into the music businesses is just what Anderson University wants high school students to experience with its Orangehaus Music Business Camp.
Over the past week, AU’s Orangehaus Records hosted nearly 30 students in a crash course of navigating the music business through classes, band practice and a recording session at Gaither Studios in Alexandria.
“I feel like I’m learning a lot so that I can apply it directly to me and my story and where I’m headed,” Schmidt, 18, said.
Now in its 10th year, the camp allows students to focus on one of two tracks: producing or artist development, said Becky Chappell, AU professor of music and director of music business and Orangehaus Records. It’s open to kids ages 14 to 19 to explore performing, recording, songwriting, producing and marketing Chappell said AU is focused on ensuring that college students get started on their music business career as soon as they step on campus. Once the university gives them more hands-on experience, they had greater job placement success after graduation.
“Then we realized that you know what, even starting in college is too late,” she said. “They need to start in high school.”
Chappell said the camp is almost like a mini version of AU’s music business program, and students can earn college credit if they complete an online course now that the camp session is over.
If they choose AU, they won’t be required to take an introductory course into music business.
Now that he’s finished with high school, Schmidt plans on attending Word of Life Bible Institute for a one-year program before moving forward as a musical artist.
“I would view just being in a band and wanting to make money, that in of itself is its own business,” he said.
Camp faculty member Tonya Butler said even if kids don’t figure out at the camp what part of the music business they want to go into, they can at least easily discover what they don’t want to do in their careers.
Growing up in California and around the entertainment industry, it took Butler years before she figured out what avenue she wanted to take. She was a theater major in college and didn’t realize she wanted to focus on music entertainment law until she was in law school. This fall, she’ll be assistant chair of the music program at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“I will say, had I had a camp like this, it would’ve helped me,” she said. “There were a few years there I wasn’t sure what I wanted because I had not been exposed to enough.
“These students get exposed to a little bit of everything within a week.”
Anderson resident Cassidy Lee, 16, always suspected she wanted a career in music or theater, but she didn’t know exactly what.
She was first introduced to the Orangehaus camp last summer and realized she had a passion for songwriting. She’s utilized the lessons she learned last summer to market herself as an artist online over the last year.
“There was so much more I knew I could learn if I came back,” Lee said. “I knew I hadn’t learned everything I could.”
She’s about to enter her junior year at Liberty Christian, but she knows already that she wants to attend AU for its music business program.
“Now I know this is what I want to do for a living,” she said. “I want to be in the music business.”