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Faculty Focus Terry Tompkins

November 11, 2008 — Terry Tompkins

Terry Tompkins, Assistant Professor in the Music Industry Program and President of MAD Dragon Records, discovered and signed Columbia Records artist John Legend long before Legend's multi-platinum albums and Grammy-award winning successes.

For years Terry played in rock bands while also managing their bookings and promotions. He founded Big Fish Management in 1995 and went on to sign artists to Arista, Blackbird/Atlantic and Sanctuary/BMG Records. Terry served as the Showcase Director of the Philadelphia Music Conference from 1997-2001. Some of the relatively unknown artists he worked with then are hardly unknown now: John Legend, Jill Scott, Convoy, Imogen Heap, and Saliva. Terry's keen ear and knowledge of the business led to his appointment as an Artist & Repertoire (A&R) rep for Columbia Records.

Terry joined the Music Industry faculty in 2004. His teaching about touring and concert promotion led Terry and his students to create DraKo Booking, a student-run booking agency. DraKo has booked nearly 500 live music performances across the United States since then. Terry also played a key role in bringing the three-day music festival, POPPED! to Drexel in the summer of 2008. POPPED! drew a crowd of nearly 4,000 to Drexel University and featured performances by Vampire Weekend, Mates of State, Gogol Bordello, and MAD Dragon recording artists Hoots & Hellmouth.

As President of MAD Dragon Records, Professor Tompkins works with students, artists, fellow faculty and Ryko Records on A&R, marketing, distribution, publicity and international licensing. MAD Dragon Records has released records from Matt Duke, Andrew Lipke, Jules Shear, Hoots & Hellmouth, The Redwalls, and The Swimmers. Each year, Terry's students identify and secure the bands for our Unleashed compilations series, with four Unleashed albums to date.

Terry is a regular at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music convention in Austin, TX. He's invited to speak on SXSW panels and has moderated a session for the College Media Journal (CMJ) Conference in New York. Terry continues to present at the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) regional and national conventions and is currently working on a research paper that investigates why some new recording artists are successful.

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