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UCLan students work on promotion of MC Tunes’ lost album

21 May 2014

Rachel Atkinson

Iconic British rapper’s album to be released 23 years after it was recorded

University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) students have helped promote a music album, 23 years after it was first due to be heard.

The four MA Music Industry Management and Promotion students, based at the Preston Campus, have worked with Manchester rapper MC Tunes to bring Damage By Stereo to the ears of all.

The album was originally recorded in 1991 but was never released following a disagreement between Tunes, whose real name is Nicky Lockett, and his record label ZTT. The hip-hop star then bought the tapes from the label but left them untouched to work on other projects. However, he said "a bunch of people" had since "convinced me to let people hear the music". 

Damage By Stereo got its first outing at Manchester's Factory 251 last month at an event called 23 Years Late which attracted several hundreds of people. The four students; Tony An, Vickie Cummins, Belle Lu and Jed Saint, organised the exclusive public airing of the album and arranged for former Inspiral Carpets member and DJ Clint Boon to interview MC Tunes in between album tracks and while an artist painted the album’s cover live on stage.

“It’s been a massive learning curve that has shown us what it’s really like to work in this industry.”

Founder of ‘The Laboratory Project’ and UCLan Associate Lecturer Tony Rigg said that the event “was like a time capsule taking us back to a key stage in the development of British hip-hop.”

The Factory 251 gig was just one aspect of a wider campaign run by the Masters students to promote the album. They also arranged for the fragile original tapes to be carefully restored by Manchester's Advanced Media Restoration, ran a PR campaign targeting national and trade press to share MC Tunes’ lost album story, established a social media presence for the rapper and enlisted the help of three other UCLan production students to film a promotional video of MC Tunes.

Student Vickie Cummins commented: “The whole process was a huge undertaking and we’ve relished it all. By getting involved in so many aspects of the promotion process, from arranging the successful exclusive event in Manchester to producing fliers to hand out at a BBC 6 Music Festival to contacting music blog sites to share the story, it’s been a massive learning curve that has shown us what it’s really like to work in this industry.”

The management and promotion students have also tapped into the talent on offer at UCLan by working with undergraduates Jack Ashcroft, Jonathan Beech and Aaron Miller to film and produce the promotional music video. The video, which features MC Tunes singing Tunes Blues and We Don’t Care, will be released over the summer through Jonathan Beech’s music videography company Suburban Productions.

MA Music Industry Management and Promotion Course Leader Les Gillon said it was projects like this that make the UCLan course stand out from similar courses. “These students aren’t just talking about what it’s like to promote an artist,” said Les. “They’re actually doing it and learning from industry professionals along the way.”

“It’s been fascinating to see the original lost tapes restored and then work with MC Tunes here at UCLan to record a music video that we will use to promote the album.”

Damage By Stereo will be released later this year on UCLan Honorary Fellow Peter Hook’s label, Hacienda Records, allowing the students to benefit from working with the musician’s promotional team as part of the project.

Fellow student Jed Saint said: “We’ve worked extensively with Peter Hook’s team and were able to utilise their contacts to really make 23 Year Late a success. It’s been fascinating to see the original lost tapes restored and then work with MC Tunes here at UCLan to record a music video that we will use to promote the album.”

The group’s next step is to negotiate with Hacienda Records on who will distribute the album and the best ways to promote it. It is thought Damage by Stereo will be released digitally in the UK by the end of June with a launch party at the beginning of July.

Vickie added: “We will approach the likes of iTunes and Amazon as well as radio stations to get the album into the market. The team will also organise the album’s launch party in the summer so there’s still lots to do but we’re enjoying every minute of it.”

Damage by Stereo was recorded as the follow-up to MC Tunes’ 1990 debut album The North At Its Heights which included his two hit singles with Manchester electronic music band 808 State, The Only Rhyme That Bites and Tunes Splits The Atom. 

Photo: The four MA Music Industry Management and Promotion students with three UCLan video production undergraduates, rap star MC Tunes, UCLan lecturers Tony Rigg and Les Gillon and two music producers.