A group of University of South Carolina students spent this semester learning about the music industry, not only from the academic side, but also from a current record label president whose success has made him an industry legend.
Michael Goldstone’s name might not be familiar to the average music fan, but his work is. Artists he signed have sold more than 50 million albums. The list includes Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, the All-American Rejects, Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, and many more. Goldstone, also known as “Goldie,” has worked with some of the biggest names in the business and is president of indie label Mom + Pop Music Company, which he launched in 2008.
So how did he wind up in a virtual classroom at the University of South Carolina? Armen Shaomian is an associate professor at South Carolina’s Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, and reached out to Goldstone during the pandemic to see if he would serve as a mentor to a group of five students hoping to pursue a career in the music industry.
“This is the first time we have had a major record company exec ‘take on’ our students and personally mentor them,” Shaomian says. “The experience for these students is invaluable and has allowed them a first-hand look at an industry going through major change.”
The students met for 90 minutes every two weeks with Goldstone via Zoom. He spoke to them about the different career paths available in an ever-evolving industry, about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and about his own experiences in more than three decades in the business. He also encouraged them to share their own ideas and ask questions freely.
"He's so approachable. It feels like you're just talking to one of your buddies," student Bradley Rauman says of Goldstone.
Fellow student Brianna Stoohs echoes the sentiment, adding, "I'm impressed by how genuine he is. He's so great with questions."
Goldstone explains that his willingness to help comes from his understanding, gained through a long career, that the music industry is a service business. He sees his role as facilitating opportunities for artists to connect with fans.
"The most gratifying aspect is facilitating pop culture and helping people get to a place where the public knows who they are,” he says.
Stoohs shared the impact Goldstone’s work to bring bands into the spotlight had on her.
"I remember hearing Cage the Elephant on the radio for the first time and how much that meant to me, that alternative music like that was breaking into the mainstream,” she says.
Goldstone says the age of streaming has opened doors for artists who may not have the kind of widespread appeal that makes an impact on the pop charts.
"There's such an amalgamation of styles and genres right now,” he says. "The wonderful thing is there's kind of room for everything. It's sort of the beauty of streaming culture."
Through the mentorship program, Goldstone has shared insights that transcend music — giving students guidance on how to lead a company and be an agent for positive change. He has also been willing to share his less successful moments with the students, passing along the lesson that even the best are far from perfect. For all his triumphs, he reminds the students of this as well: “I passed on Smashing Pumpkins.”
“Giving students who are passionate about entertainment management the chance to connect with a mentor like this is priceless,” says Shaomian. “These are the types of college experiences that stick with students, and I’m excited to see how it will impact their careers.
Learn more about the opportunities offered by the University of South Carolina’s Department of Sport and Entertainment Management.