LISTEN TO THE MUSIC -
This is Our State
This is Our State The Eggbowl Blues My Mississippi Home The Dawgpound Rock Bite Me!
Rockin' With the Rebels
Kiss This The Hotty Toddy Song The Eggbowl Blues The Ole Miss Magic Cruisin' with the Colonel
Ohio State/Ohio Songs
Ridin' High in the Middle of Ohio My Ohio Ohio State Alma Mater Rockin' in the Buckeye Tree Nobody Beats the Bucks
Read the Mississippi Magazine Field Guide Article About University Jams
STORY OF UNIVERSITY JAMS
Written the Summer of 2013
ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF NEW MUSIC MARKETING
The founder of University Jams composed and produced what was possibly the first officially-endorsed, original rock record for a major University in the United States. “Bulldog Blitz” for Mississippi State was a statewide radio and stadium hit in 1980 with thousands of 45 rpm singles sold throughout the state. 20 years later he recorded “The Dawgpound Rock” for State and “The Hotty Toddy Song” for Ole Miss with similar sales success.
Steve Acker's original college spirit songs and CD’s have been popular (and profitable) for 33 years. Acker now owns University Jams, LLC a music production company specializing in new college music. This is an enormous, untapped, nationwide market, ripe for something new, something fresh. ESPN and ReverbNation have co-sponsored a new college song competition. A handful of schools have endorsed original new songs with much success.
New college music is a growing trend. University Jams has the experience and knowledge, and a tangible record of achievement, that places the company at its cutting edge.
A MASSIVE MARKET
There are some 2,600 accredited 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S., with 74 million graduates over the age of 25. They love their teams...and they love their music. Bring the two together with a ht song or two and you create an event. Your song becomes the soundtrack of the season, it fuels fan fervor and...it sells.
The century-old fight songs and alma maters that accompany most university games are much revered, but seldom bought. Most stadium songs are classic or current hits (e.g. "Hang on Sloopy" at Ohio State, "Who Let the Dawgs Out" at MSU). The schools pay big licensing fees for the use of these songs. But they can't be branded, they can't be be owned, and they can't be re-sold.
A University Jams song is personal. It's about one school and one team and it speaks their language. Instead of paying licensing fees, the schools are paid a licensing fee by University Jams. For the schools it's perfect branding. These songs are extended jingles that sound like hits. They are records, and as such, radio will play them (whereas they would charge the schools for 60 second spot buys). The keys to success are great songs...and trademark licensing rights. If you can get the Athletic Directors and Head Coaches enthused and make the recordings radio-friendly, a hit is virtually assured.
There is no deeper devotion--outside of faith and family--than a football fan's devotion to his team and his school. Music is the soundtrack of all our lives; it keeps us connected to our glory days. And for 74 million of us, the glory days lasted four seasons.
The primary target market is alumni, parents and families, and other fans ages 28 to 62. The secondary market is current students and younger graduates.
NICHE MARKETING MUSIC
Old-school marketing techniques no longer work as well for music producers and marketers as they once did. Until the beginning of this century, recording artists could create their albums without regard to market needs and expectations; if the music was good enough it would attract a market through traditional media channels. But the market has become so fragmented and--because recording technology has become affordable for almost anyone--there is so much product flooding the market that very few artists and albums find a significant audience anymore.
University Jams reverses the old-school approach--we identify specific niche markets and we create music to satisfy those markets (one independent record company that has been doing this for decades and still finds an audience for its product is Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records). University Jams' market is a specialized, upscale, niche market of 74 million devoted fans.
Nearly 20,000 copies of the original "Bulldog Blitz" 45 rpm record were sold and distributed throughout Mississippi during the 1980 season. 33 years later it continues to sell as part of Acker's CD's.
About 7,800 Ole Miss and Mississippi State fans purchased the original versions of the current CD's in the 1999-2000 seasons at $12.95 retail, $6.50 wholesale with virtually no promotion
Since 2002, Acker has personally sold nearly 3,000 State and Ole Miss CD's to fans he meets along the way at $10 per CD.
Basing the return as a percentage of living alumni, 6.24% of living alumni purchased one of those CD's the first year of its release. Factor in 4000 CD's sold between 2001 and 2013 and the sale rate is 9.4%. A school like Ohio State University boasts 475,000 living alumni. Using a figure of 8%, with proper distribution, University Jams could expect to sell 38,000 CD's at a wholesale price of $6, for a $228,000 first year gross..
13 years ago there was no social media, only dial-up Internet, and virtually no download sales. Today, these resources are a reality, so the numbers should go up accordingly.
COMPACT DISCS OR DOWNLOADS?
Why manufacture and distribute CD's? Why not sell downloads alone? Because our primary target market does not generally pay to download music. They are not heavy users. But they will buy CD's at retail locations if the CD's are substantial and if they are merchandised properly. To this day there are thousands of Mississippi State fans across the country who still cherish their Bulldog Blitz 45's. A CD is a tangible souvenir they can hold in their hands and mount on their wall.
The fans may go to The Lodge in Starkville or Rebel Rags in Oxford and or any Walgreens store and the state and see hundreds of T-shirts and caps and bumper stickers on sale. But they see only one CD of new University songs. It's an impulse buy, and enough fans will buy it to make this company quite profitable.
A typical University Jams CD/EP consists of 1) A stadium rah-rah single in an contemporary urban R&B style to pump up the fans and the team, a dance song, basically, 2) A "B side", perhaps a more introspective original song, 3) A contemporary version of the school's alma mater, 4) A contemporary instrumental version of the school's fight song, 5) Any other available contemporary recordings that we can license for a reasonable fee, 6) Ideally, a marching band version of the single, and 7) Ringtones.
Such a CD can command a wholesale price of $6 and a retail price of $11.95.
MERCHANDISING AND CROSS-SELLING
There is, of course, big money in merchandising. The original images University Jams creates for any given school can be licensed for a whole array of merchandised products such as T-shirts and caps. Merchandised products are walking billboards for the CD's.
Additionally, as a "specialty label," University Jams can cross-sell CD's of artists that record its songs, creating an additional marketing channel and profit center for the company.
BACKGROUND and VISION
University Jams evolved from Acker's hit, Bulldog Blitz, into a partnership with New York producer and SST studio owner, John Hanti. SST clients include Beyonce', Alicia Keys, and the Rolling Stones. Acker was the guitarist and writer for MCA recording artists LAW and toured throughout the 70's with stars like The Who, Bob Seger, and Earth, Wind and Fire. He then served as a creative director and copywriter for ad agencies and marketing firm in Jackson (GodwinGroup) and Nashville for nearly 30 years, penning numerous popular jingles along the way.
A Yahoo discussion group brought Acker's songwriting to Hanti's attention again in 2007. He signed Acker to a long-term development deal and for five years Acker wrote full time for SST. Hanti and Acker formed a formal partnership called University Jams LLC (a New Jersey corporation) in January 2012.
Songs like "Bulldog Blitz," "In the Big House" for Michigan, and "Feed Moncrief" for Ole Miss clearly show that fans do adopt and buy new music when it becomes available to them. Despite the growing interest in new college music. there has been no organized effort by one company to create music for a multitude of schools. This is what University Jams hopes to do.
The musicians, singers, producers, and recording engineers who participated in last summer's recordings at Hanti's studio in Weehawken, NJ have appeared on countless platinum albums and classic hit singles, on stages with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Bob Dylan and John Lennon, on HBO specials, and on many nationally televised concert events.
PLEASE LISTEN TO
Rockin' in the Buckeye Tree
(Steve Acker-Rob Parissi)
Produced by University Jams and Rob Parissi for Ohio State University ©2009
VIRGINIA TECH AND OHIO STATE
University Jams had a false start in 2009 with two projects for Virginia Tech and Ohio State. The most notable of those songs was "Rockin' in the Buckeye Tree." Acker and Hanti worked with Rob Parissi--singer and writer of "Play That Funky Music" and leader of the 70's Ohio band, Wild Cherry. Acker and Parissi co-wrote and co-produced "Rockin' in the Buckeye Tree" for Ohio State.
Acker and Hanti also tackled Virginia Tech in Spring 2009 with several finely produced theme songs.
But not all the elements for long-term success were in place. It was not yet time for University Jams to take flight.
The company bounced back in 2012 with University Jams LLC and the new State/Ole Miss products. The company had secured about 50 retail locations in North Mississippi and placed initial orders in those stores. Mississippi Magazine had published an article on the company in its Fall Field Guide.] WAPT-TV in Jackson and the Columbus ABC affiliate covered the story. University Jams was on a roll.
SUPER STORM SANDY BRINGS THE HOUSE DOWN
On October 29th, 2012 (one month after Hanti was critically injured in a car wreck) SST's multi-mullion dollar recording complex in Weehawken, NJ was destroyed by Super Storm Sandy. The studio--and our business--were total losses. The Ohio State project had to be shelved entirely. Nor were we able to continue The Ole Miss and Mississippi State projects, under the circumstances. University Jams' time had still not come. Sandy was a rude interruption to say the least.
Due to last Fall's twin tragedies, John Hanti is no longer directly involved in University Jams, although he continues to serve as Acker's executive producer. Advising Acker on the future of the company, he said "University Jams is a brilliant vision; find a new set of believers."
Thank you for reading this story.