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Purdue Fort Wayne Brings Record Label to the Summit City


When the announcement came that the long time merging of Indiana University and Purdue University in Fort Wayne was unraveling, it seemed to spell possible doom to the campus’s music department. Its connection to the prestigious IU School of Music had made it a popular alternative to Bloomington for legions of music students. But instead of an ending, the opportunity became a fresh beginning with the newly minted Purdue Fort Wayne becoming home instead to the first and only Purdue University School of Music.

With an important affiliation with Sweetwater, the PFW School of Music added three new programs which have drawn more than 100 students in three years. Now the school has started Gold Top Music Group which includes its own record label. With two artists already signed, the entity officially launches on September 2.

“It was an idea which had kind of been discussed after our new degree programs were created,” said John Buteyn, Director of Popular Music & Music Industry Programs and Clinical Assistant Professor of Music at Purdue Fort Wayne. “Shortly after that, things started going rather quickly.”


John Buteyn, Purdue Fort Wayne


What became a more challenging aspect was building a business model within an academic environment. The music business is well-known to be a massive corporate structure, but nothing like that can be created at a university where the primary objective is education. Instead Gold Top Music Group has been created as one of PFW’s Centers of Excellence. The plan had a start and stop, but once Buteyn jumped into the program, his attention and energy helped push it over the finish line. Even the pandemic didn’t slow the progress once the process was moving along.

“There’s a lot of red tape when you’re doing something like this at a state university,” Buteyn said. “There are certain things you can do, certain things you can’t. We can’t really make a profit so we looked at a lot of business models. We had a university attorney and media attorney look at it and help us build our model.”

What this music group provides the students of PFW is a hands-on way to learn the business rather than study it from afar. They’ll be scouting talent, signing them, working on marketing, building social media campaigns, and working with the artists themselves. One artist, Bear Case, will see her first album – and Gold Top Records first release – drop September 2. The other signed artist, Man of the Flood, will have a release down the road.

More university collaborations may come of this project, particularly as promotional materials like videos start becoming part of the process. Although Buteyn oversees the work, the students are really the ones gaining hands-on experiences.

“Every year we get more applications for the positions of student managers, which are paid one-year positions,” Buteyn said. “We also have practicums which are not paid but allow students to earn credits toward their degrees.”

The public is welcome to the September 2 release party and performances which will feature Bear Case performing from her album “Brain Soup” as well as a performance from Man of the Flood. Admission is free, and food trucks will be on hand for those wishing to purchase food. (The first 200 PFW students who attend will also receive a $10 voucher for food truck purchases.) The event will be held at the PFW Student Commons, 6-8 p.m.. Enter from Trier Road and bring a chair or blanket. For more information, visit the Gold Top Music Group website, goldtoprecords.com.

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