The fourth annual Drexel Music Industry Program concert puts students in charge.
I know what you’re thinking, and rightly so. The type of person who would go to college and sign on for a Music Industry major in 2011 is the same type of rube who might’ve started a horse-and-buggy service shortly after the invention of the car, bought a Krispy Kreme franchise at the height of the Atkins craze or would open a present-day medical leech business next door to Jefferson. Not exactly smart.
Because the very real truth is, the bottom has fallen out of the music industry. People—you know this already—just don’t buy music anymore. Not exactly good for the business of selling, promoting or recording the stuff. With each passing year, sales figures fall and the outlook gets worse. No one has figured out how to monetize the Net, promoters are losing their asses on concerts and ... well, you get the picture. As the Sex Pistols once said, there’s no future.
So, what say ye, Terry Tompkins, managing director of Drexel’s Music Industry Program Entities and director of MAD Dragon Records? Why offer this major?
“That’s a good question. I think that one of the common misconceptions is ... due to the fact that record sales are down, the major labels are feeling the impact, and so are the indies to some extent. But that’s not representative of what’s happening in the music industry on a whole,” Tompkins says. “Music is more popular than ever. There’s more music being listened to. There are more artists that are succeeding on various levels. There are more niches.”
He’s right, of course. And in all actuality, Drexel’s Music Industry Program has never been more active or looked so attractive. They’ve just been nominated for seven Independent Media Awards (making 20 noms since 2007), and the collapse of the industry (real or perceived) is benefiting them in some ways—artists lost in the shuffle at major labels are falling head-long into the ever-loving embrace of the program’s passionately run student label (which we’ll talk about in a sec here).
Drexel’s program is one of 100 or schools that’s a part of a coalition of music industry educators, the Music and Entertainment Industry Education Association (MEIEA). Some of those schools focus on the technological side of the recording industry—engineering, producing. Others focus on the business aspect. Drexel has pots on both fires.
“We have the most diverse curriculum of all music industry programs in the United States,” Tompkins says.
One of the program’s biggest successes is its record label, MAD Dragon. Started seven years ago, it has put out releases by myriad artists from a diverse spectrum: The danceable electronic hum of the Swimmers, the conscious hip-hop of former Hustle emcee Kuf Knotz, the old-time countrified gospel of Toy Soldiers and the alternative folk of Hezekiah Jones.
The students in the program are involved in every aspect of the label and the band’s who are signed to it. They discover the artist, develop them, record and market them, and book their shows.
Because, oh yeah, the program also has a concert-booking arm, Madko concerts, which puts on shows across the city. Both MAD Dragon and Madko Concerts will be on full display this Thursday, March 3, when MD artists Toy Soldiers, the Spinning Leaves and Hezekiah Jones take to a stage booked and promoted by students in the program. One of Rolling Stone’s “best new bands of 2010, the infectious Free Energy, headline the whole thing.
The future is now.
Thurs., March 3, 7pm. $10 or free with Drexel ID. With Free Energy, the Spinning Leaves, Hezekiah Jones, Toy Soldiers and Kuf Knotz. Mandell Theater, 33rd and Chestnut sts. 215.895.2787. drexel.edu
PW's Music Issue 2014