Making music the NCAA way
By Karen Guregian
Boston Herald General Sports Reporter and Columnist
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Prior to officially enrolling at Boston College, Ayla Brown hurriedly whipped together her debut CD, “Forward.”
Remarkably, she put together the 10-song disc in a little more than a week. But there’s more. She actually recorded enough music for a second CD, which is tentatively set to be released early next summer.
Only, there’s one rather sizeable glitch. Thanks to NCAA compliance rules, the record company can’t use her name, or image on the CD.
“That’s where it’s at right now,” said Jim McGregor, who produced the first CD. “The NCAA won’t let us put her picture or her name on the CD. So we’re not really sure what to call it.”
As it is, Brown can’t even promote her current CD. Once her hoop season is over, the rules are a bit more relaxed, but at the moment she has to keep her distance from it. The Browns understand the guidelines are in place essentially to protect the athlete and the school.
“Since the second album was also recorded prior to her enrollment, we might be able to figure something out,” said state Senator Scott Brown, who is Ayla’s father and manager. “As long as we’re in communication with the compliance people, and being honest and open with them, I think it might be possible to work out some parameters.”
Prior to attending classes, Ayla was in the recording studio. The need for speed was imperative given compliance considerations. She only had a brief window between the time her “American Idol” contract expired and when she enrolled at Boston College on Sept. 4. Like a true athlete, she responded to the pressure, recording enough music to fill up two CDs, while also recording three Christmas songs.
“It was pretty insane,”said McGregor. “Usually, a vocalist will take a week for one track. We did 19 songs in 8 days. Then, we had to turn it into the NCAA before she started school. But that’s all in accordance with the by-laws.”
Brown didn’t get a big-name record label. Under NCAA guidelines, she can’t promote her music. She can’t have signings, appearances, nothing even remotely associated with pushing the product. But Double Deal records still picked up the contract, and they’ve sold 1,285 copies of the CD, 3,386 copies of a two-song single (with “Know You Better” and “I Quit”) and they’ve had 760 itune downloads.
“She brought some ambition and energy here when she came to record,” said McGregor, who is based in upstate New York. “We really put the girl through the ringer, and she held out. She did great in the studio.”
Said Brown, who has written some of the songs and lyrics: “It was really exciting. The adrenaline rush of being in the studio and knowing you had to get all that done in two weeks. I pretty much sang until I couldn’t anymore. I think even with all the time constrictions, we came out with a great product.”