Students produce album; get a real taste of the MUSIC business

Did you hear the rumor about a possible collaboration between G-Unit and Michael Jackson? Well, if you wondered if it had any truth to it, all one would have to do is ask a student from Professor Oswaldo Rossi’s MM173 class and they could tell you that it was false. Upon hearing this rumor in a review session, Rossi called his friend and business associate, Alina Moffat, who is G-Unit’s attorney and she advised him that his rumor was in fact, false.

Things of this nature are just a daily occurrence in Rossi’s multinational recorded music industry class. While most students go to class and listen to their professors drag on about theories or philosophies, students in Rossi’s MMI173 class hear real-life stories from a music industry executive. Rossi, a 2001 graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, is now the manager of business affairs for EMI Music Latin America. Rossi, who had been president of the Student Bar Association while at UM, interned for free for two years before landing the gig at EMI. He is now responsible for negotiating, structuring, and drafting contracts for EMI Televisa Music, the Spanish-language division of Capitol Records. Now, 75 students get to take advantage of his experience and listen to his stories from every Monday and Wednesday night in his first class taught at UM.

As part of the class, since the beginning of the semester, almost every student has been participating in a class-wide extra credit project. The goal was to produce a mock record label, and for the students to go through the entire process of producing an album. Each night after class, interested students would stay until about 10 p.m. to discuss and work on the album. Students were responsible for selecting the repertoire, securing licenses, creating production ready artwork, and implementing and executing a marketing plan. The class produced the album from beginning to end.

Most students say the hands-on experience of the project has been more valuable than anything they could learn in a classroom. In addition to the project, every class has a guest from the music industry to participate in classroom discussion and talk with students and answer questions. Such guests included nine-time Grammy award-winning producer Sebastian Krys and world renowned DJ/recording artist Tony Touch.

Junior Andrew Costa, one of the many passionate students in the class, sings its praises.

“Words can’t even convey the contribution that Professor Rossi has given to this class,” Costa said. “If you want to see the passion that the students have for this project, come to the class an hour after it’s over. The attendance speaks for itself.”

The album completed is a compilation of 18 different artists and includes some local area bands, as well as popular UM band Please, Please. The compilation is musically diverse, with rock, hip-hop/urban, and world music tracks that were selected and voted on by the students. Rossi suggested that the class take advantage of its musical talents, and therefore two of the tracks were recorded and produced by the students themselves in the UM studios. All of the vocalists, musicians, and producers for these two tracks are members of the class.

As a culmination of the project, Rossi and the class will be hosting a free CD release party at GameWorks this coming Friday, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Three of the bands from the compilation will be performing, including Unsung Zeros, Day Music Died, and Please, Please. This is a free event and copies of the compilation album entitled, “Battery 173,” will be given away for free to everyone in attendance.

Students can expect a good show to be put on by the bands playing the release party. Some Central Floridian students may remember the melodic sounds of Unsung Zeros, a pop/punk band out of Orlando. The band broke up a few years ago, but after a special request by Rossi, they agreed to be a part of the album and come play the release party.

The experience has been invaluable for both the student and the teacher.

“These kids taught me something 20 years of education didn’t,” Rossi said. “Learning can be fun.”

Matt Stanley can be contacted at