Without music, life wouldn’t be the same for Connor Murray. The Pitt Business student (Junior – Supply Chain Management) created his record label “Crafted Sounds” when he was 18 years old.
“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me,” Murray says. “It’s one thing to absorb music and consume it and share it with your friends, but I think it was another thing to create something or put on a show.”
Murray’s independent label is currently supporting nine bands along the East Coast and focuses primarily on the cassette tape format. According to Murray, vinyl is more expensive, so artists and independent labels are starting to adopt the cassette format once again.
His label mainly supports punk and garage rock bands but is also open to supporting more experimental acts.
“With music, for me especially, I want it to be community oriented,” Murray says. “I am definitely trying to look for people that encourage other people to pursue their art.”
Murray recently signed a licensing deal with a larger label to allow his label to provide streaming and commercial licensing for artists he works with. Several hundred people attended a recent record release, which also raised over $1,000 for a nonprofit.
“Now with our streaming capabilities, I make a point when an artist signs our contract that a.) it’s their intellectual property and b.) it is a mutual partnership,” Murray says. “There is a sincere amount of trust on both ends.”
Having an online presence is vital for the Crafted Sounds label. Especially when it comes to interacting with musicians and promoting upcoming shows.
“I use Facebook all of the time because it is a huge networking tool for music,” Murray says. “A lot of my communications are over Facebook Messenger, whether it is setting up a show or communicating with a band. It is almost like a music Slack.”
Murray, who is originally from Severna Park, Md., says that the Pittsburgh music scene is a tight-knit community where everyone knows everybody.
“People in Pittsburgh are so excited when they hear things about entertainment or anything like that because there is not a lot of it,” Murray says. “That’s why I’ve able to do what I’ve been able to do because there are only a few other people doing it.”
As the music scene in Pittsburgh continues to emerge, there is a unique way Murray showcases his bands and interacts with new acts — house shows.
“People will go on tours going through houses,” Murray says. “I can kick back with my friends and see a cool band from the other side of the country that I never would have thought came to Pittsburgh. On campus, there are even a couple of houses where people have shows.”
Murray has used his education at Pitt Business to make more financially savvy business decisions.
“Years ago, I was getting quotes from companies figuring out where I am going to source tapes because a lot of the stuff is cassette tape format,” Murray says. “So I had a preferred supplier for a while, and then I was sitting in my supply chain class and thought I haven’t done a nice audit of who should be supplying me. Now I work with a different manufacturer that has better price breaks. It was not until I took purchasing at Pitt that I thought it’d be smart to reconsider where I buy.”
Murray looks forward to balancing work and play in the future as he combines his two passions of music and IT consulting. This summer he will intern at Highmark in Pittsburgh as a Business Analyst. After work hours, though, he will continue to push his record label, where he plans to work with an experimental hip-hop act, showcase artists in the Deutschtown Music Festival, and maybe pursue a vinyl release.
“I am meeting people in Pittsburgh and I am starting to think long term,” Murray says. “I want to live here after graduation.”