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McNally Smith Alum Named One of Billboard Magazine’s 30 Under 30

When Kyle Frenette graduated from McNally Smith College of Music in 2007, his record label, Amble Down Records, was just emerging in the contemporary music scene. Frenette founded Amble Down as a student at McNally Smith, and soon after formed Middle West Management. Four years later, the young entrepreneur manages one of modern indie’s most successful acts, Bon Iver, and has just been named one of Billboard magazine’s 30 under 30, a yearly list that recognizes and appreciates the work of up-and-coming executives in the music and entertainment industries.

Frenette received an A.A.S. in 2007 from McNally Smith’s Music Business program. Coming from Eau Claire, in western Wisconsin, he took advantage of the college’s connections to the Twin Cities’ music scene. “I really enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the school and made some great and lasting connections with fellow students and staff,” Frenette told McNally Smith’s Director of Career Services David Lewis in an interview last fall. He added, “In fact, I recently brought on one of the friends I made at McNally Smith as a full-time partner and assistant to the label and management firm that I run.” While at the music college, in addition to founding Amble Down Records, Frenette interned for Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO), a Twin Cities nonprofit that supports up-and-coming musicians.

After graduating, Frenette’s Middle West Management took on Bon Iver. The band’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, saw a limited, independent release of 500 CDs in late 2007, but soon signed to Jagjaguwar, and the record was officially released in February, 2008. To date, For Emma has sold approximately 350,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Last year, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon contributed to Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and the group released its second, self-titled album this summer to widespread critical acclaim. In addition to Bon Iver, Middle West Management now oversees Solid Gold, Gayngs, Volcano Choir, S. Carey, and others.

Congratulations to Kyle, and to Amble Down Records and Middle West Management, from all of us at his alma mater!