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VALLEY FOCUS | Northridge

CSUN Music Industry Class Promotes Singer

April 17, 1998|EDWARD M. YOON

Gina Buhl may be an unknown commodity in the recording industry, but the students at Cal State Northridge's music industry studies program are doing their best to get her music out to a mainstream audience.

As part of a class project, the future executives are working to sell Buhl's song, "Closer to Your Life," to a major recording label in Hollywood.

"We think it's a very nice song that is similar to what's popular today in radio," said CSUN student Riki Bitton, who is in charge of publicity and marketing. "She sounds like Sarah McLachlan."

Attracting a buyer would merely be icing on the cake for Bitton and her classmates, who at the start of the fall semester began an ambitious program in which students get hands-on training in how the recording industry works from the inside, said Joel Leach, CSUN music industry studies professor.

"It's proven to be real valuable," Leach said. "The students have shown great professionalism, and the fact that we're located near Hollywood, the recording center of the world, gives them a possibility of finding real success."

On a shoestring budget of $1,300, the first-year project began with the formation of a miniature record company. Then the students searched for a potential hit song through on-campus and word-of-mouth advertising, Leach said.

They received 20 demo tapes, one of which was a tune written and sung by Buhl, an Alaska Airlines pilot who lives in Washington state.

"It just so happens that one of my students knew [Buhl] and it turns out that her song was the best song," Leach said.

Buhl flew to Los Angeles last month for a recording session at Burbank's Blue House Studios, which the class rented for the occasion.

Currently, the students are distributing to record companies and the news media promo packets that include a demo tape, a biography on Buhl, a glossy photo of the singer, lyrics and information about the music industry studies program.

"We hope that this song will catch the ear of some record producer," Bitton said.

And if the song becomes a hit?

"It meant that we did a good job," Bitton said. "It will be a great achievement."

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