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Across a crowded room

Tanner Smith and his fellow Georgia State University music industry majors are following the do-it-yourself ethic and starting a record label. "It's been sort of building for the past couple of years," says Smith of the project. "But, until recently, it never really had a strong backbone."

Smith is pumping some calcium into the project with old-fashioned hard work. Along with Carlos Martinez and Pat Williams, Smith took the original concept of a student-run business, based on a model from the University of Miami, and built a working record company called Crowded Room Records from scratch. "We have had to do everything from getting contracts drafted to promotions to scouting bands to play a showcase. Since we've never done any of this before, everything we do is a learning experience." Even the occasional small headaches and setbacks have helped the students better understand the business. "So far, everything is going great. It just moves slower than any of us imagined."

As the exclusive in-house record label for music industry majors at GSU, Crowded Room Records' first release probably will be a compilation, he says. "In a crowded room, there's all kinds of people, and the label will reflect that," Smith says.

To raise awareness for their cause, the budding moguls have planned an ambitious show to raise money to produce their first CD, tentatively scheduled for a fall release. He says the five selected Atlanta bands (Last Dark Mile, Iris, Beorscipe, Pot Luck and Cosmic Gypsies) represent different aspects of the basic rock formula. Smith says recorded highlights from the event will appear on a future Crowded Room album.

"It's totally hands-on and it's all our project," he says proudly. "We are already learning a lot about the industry just from planning the show. I'm sure as the evening wears on, we'll learn a lot more."

The Crowded Room Records showcase begins at 8 p.m. Thurs., April 19, at the PlanetJam Cotton Club. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, contact gsumia@yahoo.com. ??