Northeastern student finds his rhythm with co-op at independent record label

Jonathan Klopp posing for photo in a subway station
Jonathan Klopp, a second-year music industry student at Northeastern University, is currently on a pair of part-time co-ops that are giving him first-hand experience in the music industry. Photo by Karl Andre

For his first co-op experience, Jonathan Klopp, a second-year music industry student at Northeastern University, decided to keep things close to home, literally.

Klopp is currently working a part-time co-op at Blacker Records, an independent, family-run record label in his hometown of Port Washington, New York on Long Island. 

“It’s a dream honestly,” he says. “I’m pretty sure if you walk outside my front door and lean your head out, you can see my office from my front door. I can’t even get through listening to a full song on my headphones in the time it takes me to get to work in the morning.”

But the short commute is far from the only reason Klopp is enjoying his co-op. His role at Blacker Records, which he does alongside another part-time position as a remote marketing co-op at music venue Sony Hall, has given Klopp a firsthand opportunity to learn the ins and outs of an industry he hopes to eventually make his mark on.

Started by Andy Blacker, a music industry veteran, and his 16-year-old son, Braden Blacker in 2022, Blacker Records is the definition of an independent record label. But the ground-level, upstart nature of the business has been perfect for Klopp who is also just getting started.

After securing the part-time co-op at Sony Hall, Klopp decided he wanted to fill the rest of his semester with another co-op position. He ended up working his connections at home and learned about Blacker Records. When Klopp contacted Blacker directly, the “serial music business entrepreneur,” who lives in Port Washington, was already familiar with Klopp, having seen him working at both the deli and flower shop in town.

Before long, Klopp found himself as the third employee at Blacker Records, followed shortly by the fourth: Blacker’s wife, Liz.

“I’ve been to his house, I know his family, we go into New York City sometimes to do music stuff,” Klopp says. “It is intimate and a cool, personalized experience.”

Blacker Records is still building its roster of talent, but the label’s primary client is Papi Kaiser, a New York-based urbano artist who raps, sings and makes “super catchy, super great vibes music,” Klopp says. Together, the team at Blacker Records works as Papi Kaiser’s marketing team, leveraging Blacker’s plethora of music industry connections.

At the label, Klopp submits Papi Kaiser’s music to writers and bloggers, establishing relationships he hopes will lead to press for his artist, and pitches his work to music video directors. But his favorite work is contacting venues and trying to set up shows. It’s both the most challenging and rewarding part of the job, he says. Unlike more famous artists, any gig for a burgeoning performer like Papi Kaiser is key.

“You know that you’re building something great at the ground level,” Klopp says. “[Papi Kaiser] will be one of those artists that can swing through town and get booked anywhere, but for now we’re putting in the hard work.”

Klopp still has a few months left in his first co-op, but he says the experience has already been more impactful than he could have ever hoped for. To learn something new, all it took was coming home to Port Washington, a place he knows so well.

“Especially for someone who’s passionate about creative opportunities and a creative career like music, unless you’re some sort of prodigy, you’re going to have to work some kind of day job and do your craft on the side until you can transition,” Klopp says. “I just think it’s super awesome to have that day job also be in the music business for me. I couldn’t think of anything better.”

Cody Mello-Klein is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @Proelectioneer.