The label gives music business students a chance to gain hands-on experience and provide an avenue to deliver creative projects to the public, according to Mark Pay, label president and adjunct professor.
The record label will pay to produce, promote and sell McLaughlin's CD to be released by year's end. McLaughlin will receive a percentage of the sales of the CD once the label breaks even with 2,500 units sold, according to Pay.
It is not an exclusive record deal with Launch Records, which means McLaughlin has the potential of signing with a major label such as Word, Sparrow or EMI, according to Pay.
"And that is something we are hoping for," he added.
Funding for Launch Records comes from a $25,000 campus grant established by Dr. Glenn Falls.
AU President Dr. James Edwards said during the record-signing press conference that it's essential for the university to present a substantive product to the public.
"If there is no substance (to McLaughlin's music), then the marketplace will ignore us and the product will go away," he said.
There's an abundance of soul to McLaughlin's music. While McLaughlin doesn't consider his music overtly contemporary Christian, he said his faith resonates throughout his "funky, pop and rock style."
He understands that Launch Records' primary target audience for his music initially will be the Christian market.
Despite his smooth vocals and piano playing, McLaughlin said fellow students have not treated him any differently since word spread of the record contract.
"There are a lot of good bands and musicians on this campus, and people are used to having them around," he said.
McLaughlin's parents, Mike and Tammy, are proud of their son, who has been playing piano since age 5.
"We knew since he was young there was a talent there. He has such a gift for memorization. He used to play music by ear after hearing his brother practicing," said Mike McLaughlin.
--Writer DAVID F. NELSON is a Staff Reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.