One of Illinois State University’s newest registered student organizations (RSO) is introducing students to the music industry.

Basement Bars strives to teach students the ins-and-outs of the music business.

“We teach our students how to work in the music industry,” said President Jake Hoffman, a junior from Batavia who is majoring in arts technology and minoring in business administration. “We meet every Monday and cover a topic relevant to what we are working on at the moment.”

Social media marketing and professional communication are among the topics covered with the goal of immersing students into the artists and repertoire (A&R) side of the industry. In the music industry, A&R representatives are responsible for scouting talent and overseeing artists’ development. 

From the beginning, Hoffman and his team have been dedicated to building a platform for aspiring artists, producers, and entertainers. They are also dedicated to teaching those who are interested in learning the music business by offering them hands-on experience.

Basement Bars began last January as a limited liability company (LLC) with two divisions. Basement Bars Entertainment is the parent company, while Basement Bars Records is the organization’s very own record label. The entertainment division focuses on delivering social media content to promote the artists, while the record label focuses on scouting and developing local talent. 

The members of Basement Bars together at meeting

Basement Bars members at their weekly meeting: Jake Hoffman (front row, far left) Audrey Strunewitz (front row, fourth from left), and Matthew Schiltz (back row, far right). The organization’s title came from the name of a music group that Jake Hoffman and his friends started in high school that made music in their basement.

“We work with our artists to bring them to the top,” said Hoffman. “We assist them in recording their music, promoting their music, filming their music videos, and hosting concerts.” 

In addition to becoming an RSO this fall, Basement Bars organized its first concert on campus. Hosted August 23 at the Brown Ballroom in the Bone Student Center, the concert showcased a variety of local and regional artists.

The show reeled in an enthusiastic crowd of roughly 350 music lovers. Many fans waited all night for the headlining act, LGado, a hip-hop artist from Chicago. Securing him as the headliner was a major accomplishment for the Basement Bars team.

“We plan on bringing big-name artists to ISU,” said Hoffman. “At our last show, we learned how to run a large-scale concert, and it was a great experience for the team. We’re ready for something bigger.” 

Basement Bars is eager to grow its campus presence. “We definitely want to increase our exposure on campus,” said Matthew Schiltz, a junior entrepreneurship major from La Grange who handles the RSO’s operations. “We would like for ISU to know that we are a reliable, student-run company that works to help students out professionally.”

Social media has been a vital tool in the growth of Basement Bars. “I’m working on our social media marketing,” said Audrey Strunewitz, a freshman marketing major from Lisle. “I’ve been working on gaining a follower presence and posting consistent content on Instagram to get our name out there.”

Members of Basement Bars hope to turn their college activities into a career in the music industry, but for now they just want to grow their organization on campus.

“We’re building the back end of the company financially and getting in contact with different artists,” said Strunewitz. “Once we do that, it’s easier to make a name for ourselves and bring a great experience to the school.” 

Basement Bars offers members a unique experience at Illinois State and student artists a chance for further exposure.

“Basement Bars not only provides a unique opportunity for its members to learn about the music and entertainment industries and get hands-on experience, but also serves as a gateway to bring up-and-coming artists to the attention of our ISU community,” said RSO advisor Rosie Hauck, an associate professor in the College of Business at Illinois State.

Learn more about Basement Bars by visiting the organization’s website or following the group on Instagram and Twitter.