Wow, talk about a hands-on approach to music biz education! For those students looking to get a serious start working the nuts and bolts of the music industry, this is an invaluable opportunity.
Philadelphia’s Drexel University — which in 2000 became the first major university to operate a fully wireless campus — has now launched its own record label and booking agency. Housed in the College of Media Arts & Design (CoMAD) and named MAD Dragon Records (get it?), the label is the first owned by a university in a region whose rich musical heritage embraces American Bandstand, Chubby Checker, Gamble and Huff’s Philly International label, Todd Rundgren, Boyz II Men, Mario Lanza, Eve, Marian Anderson, Patti LaBelle, The Roots, Hall and Oates, Fabian, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and a few thousand others.
Artists currently signed to MAD Dragon are local faves Trisha O’Keefe, Matt Duke, and Julia Othmer.
DraKo Agency is a subsidiary of MAD Dragon Records, which directly contacts and books venues as part of a marketing course under the supervision of Terry Tompkins, regional A&R for Columbia Records and Drexel adjunct professor. DraKo works exclusively with artists recording for MAD Dragon.
Students enrolled in Drexel’s Music Industry bachelor’s degree program will complete part of their course requirements by managing all aspects of the MAD Dragon label, including production, songwriting, recording, marketing, copyrights, contracts and distribution as well as DraKo’s tour booking. As part of the program’s hands-on, entrepreneurial approach, students have developed a website to support the marketing of MAD Dragon Records that includes streamed videos, downloads and links to other music-related sites.
“The music industry is going through a transition and reinvention period. The old models aren’t working with the newest technology,” according to Marcy Wagman, director of the music industry program in the Westphal College of Media. “With MAD Dragon Records, Drexel students will take an active part in reinventing the industry from the bottom up.”
Wagman helped launch MAD Dragon Records and is currently supervising the recording studio. She is an award-winning composer and producer of music for advertising and film, and the writer of hit songs for a number of major label rock bands. Wagman’s clientele included KYW Newsradio, Campbell’s Soup, and ABC News/Good Morning America; and she wrote the AOR hit “I’m Not YOur Man” for Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers.
Recording sessions for Mad Dragon’s releases take place in the College’s state-of-the-art recording studio, which also serves as a learning laboratory, complete with tiered seating — like a flipping med school — for students mastering the art and science of professional sound recording.
In addition to earning academic credits, student musicians who record on the MAD Dragon label receive a percentage of royalties from the sale of CDs and singles, public performances, licensing, Internet sound exchanges, and TV/film soundtracks.