Joel Bauman made national headlines earlier this year as the college wrestler who chose music and the chance to inspire others over a career on the mat.
Nearly four months later, Bauman has not lost his vision.
“It’s only grown from all these other things that have happened to me,” he said, with the same sense of conviction with which he always speaks.
Bauman is working on his first album with Foreign Affairs Media Enterprises, an ar tist development company that assists up-and-coming talent.
It’s a better position than Bauman was in four months ago with the NCAA.
He received a letter from the University of Minnesota compliance that said he wasn’t allowed to use his name in his music. Bauman had to take down his music or use an alias to maintain his eligibility with the Gophers.
Bauman chose not to comply with either request.
“This is bigger than me,” he said in February. “I know my calling to make a difference is bigger than my eligibility.”
His vision made waves on the national stage, but it also caught the eye of FAME President Jay Escobar, who said he has worked with big-name artists like the Black Eyed Peas and Taio Cruz.
Escobar said Bauman’s positive message needed to be expressed.
“There is a lot of attraction to a person that can make positive music,” he said. “I saw Joel and he has the raw talent, he takes care of himself, he looks the part and he has a positive message.”
Bauman’s song “Ones in the Sky,” which he released in December, has amassed nearly 70,000 views on YouTube. But Escobar said Bauman sounded like an amateur on the track.
Bauman agreed and said his time with FAME has allowed him to better showcase his talents and grow as an artist.
Bauman wrote “Ones in the Sky” in one day and said the goal with the track was to inspire others. Bauman’s new songs are completely different, he said, and more representative of his ability.
“In this first album people are going to see … the ar tist Joel Bauman,” he said. “That other guy was the protÃ©gÃ©.”
Escobar said the difference is like night and day, and Bauman’s development of flow is a big reason for that evolution.
He said he tried to stress to Bauman the way the words and music flow together on a track. Though “Ones in the Sky” was a hit, Escobar said he saw no glimpses of that type of flow on the track.
“That was the opposite of flow, in my opinion,” he said. “It just sounded like a speech over a good beat.”
Bauman’s progression is noticeable to outsiders as well. Escobar said he conducted a focus group with interns who had never heard Bauman’s music to illustrate the strides he’s made in his time with FAME.
“We really wanted to see if an outside perspective could see the progression we’ve seen,” he said. “We played seven songs out of order, and the interns were able to pick in the exact time in which he recorded those songs because they could hear the development.”
Bauman said he works six to seven hours a day for three or four days a week on his new album. He records out of GoodLook Studios in Minneapolis, which is headed by Casey Golden.
Golden said he toured with the Black Eyed Peas in his heyday and has worked with Prince and Macy Gray. He has also released a solo record but said he has shifted his focus to helping up-and-coming artists succeed.
“I’m taking the 15 years of lessons and the wrong turns I made along the way and making sure that stuff doesn’t happen to people like Joel Bauman,” he said.
Golden said he sees a lot of potential in Bauman because of his ability to take criticism.
“He’s got a direction, but he’s open to modifying that on the fly so it works better,” Golden said. “That is a huge thing in the music industry.”
Escobar agreed and said Bauman has the “it factor” because of his work ethic.
“I’ve worked with some really amazing artists in the past … the one thing those that make it have in common is star quality,” he said. “I think Joel Bauman has that.”
Bauman and Escobar said the album is about half done, and they hope to complete it by mid-July. Escobar said they will then market the album to record labels and gauge interest.
Bauman said the goal in this process is not the album or making money. It’s about making a difference.
“I truly believe that I was put here to change the world,” he said. “I’ve believed that since I was a little kid and the way things keep falling into place is crazy.”
Bauman said he is still technically a member of the Gophers wrestling squad, but he doesn’t know if he’s eligible to compete. He said he’ll worr y about that later, as he has bigger things on the horizon now.
Bauman said he has always been passionate about music, but it can be a grind at times. He said he keeps at it because of his original vision.
“I wouldn’t just be able to do music if it was just for me,” he said. “If it was me I’d be sitting on a beach or working out or lifting weights. … I’m here to inspire people.”