The Lowdown on High Street Records, by Allison Krivda and GraciAnn Hicks
Senior Michael Smith toured Miami University alumna Celena Fields’s Apple Music office while he participated in the Inside Hollywood program. During the program, he discovered his desire to pursue a career in the music industry. With a passion for music and the ambition to start a student organization, Smith founded High Street Records.
As Smith applied for internships, his lack of experience in the professional world prevented him from receiving any offers. “It just kinda got to a point where I was applying to all these internships and stuff, and I just wasn’t getting anything because I didn’t have that experience,” Smith said. “So I just thought, ‘Why not create my own experience?’”
In the spring of 2020, High Street Records was born into a world of COVID-19 chaos. It became an official university organization in October.
With the organization in its infancy, Smith’s friends stepped into executive roles; Todd Stuart, faculty advisor and director of the arts management program, was also a big help, Smith shared. High Street records has a strong team of executives. This includes Mike Rellick, who is vice president and executive producer.
Rellick, a third-year vocal performance major, met Smith his freshman year when the two were in Collegiate Chorale together. Smith reached out to Rellick after seeing a Snapchat video of him in the studio.
Other notable executive members are Anna Skalicki, the creative director, and Rachel Daddieh, the media manager, whom Rellick praised for their “phenomenal” abilities. Smith and Rellick shared that High Street Records welcomes new members as it continues to grow.
Aside from building its team, the organization has struggled with being a record label when live music is put on hold. “We were trying to get a concert series together,” Rellick said. “But even with that roadblock, it has also given an opportunity to now look to the digital side of things.”
High Street Records’ Instagram @highstrecords features the bulk of the artists’ music.Here, the record label dedicates two whole weeks to an artist of the month. The artist of the month does an Instagram takeover, a live concert, and has featured videos on Instagram TV. “Amongst the Miami student community specifically,” Smith noted. “I feel like Instagram is where a lot of us mostly spend our time on social media.”
Currently, the account is holding auditions for a musical showcase that will be held live on Instagram. The theme of the showcase will be an open mic night through Instagram live. In the future, High Street Records plans to hold more virtual events, such as showcases and virtual concerts.
Unlike the thriving music scenes in New York City and Los Angeles, there’s no music scene in Oxford, Ohio. The label provides aspiring musicians of all genres with a platform to share their music.
There are currently three musicians who have shared their talents through High Street Records. Jake Nelson, who operates under the name Its.Nakey, focuses on R&B. Sydney Fowler is a country pop singer. Sam Novak is a hip hop and R&B producer who works under the name Tweak On The Beat.
As High Street Records continues to grow, it hopes to gain more artists and help even more people pursue their passions. Rellick shared, “There’s no such thing as too many artists.”
High Street Record’s goals are simple: Gain more artists, interact with the Miami community more through live events, and keep the label an active organization. The label also wants to acquire a recording space for artists to use.
Smith hopes for a smooth transition of power once he graduates this spring. His dedication to the label was evident when he remarked, “I really don’t want to see this idea that I’ve seen come to life crash and burn after I leave.” Rellick feels he has big shoes to fill once he takes over as president next year.
In recent years, various music organizations on campus have fizzled out after their founders have graduated. High Street Records hopes to be the music organization that makes a large, lasting impact.