Josh Rosenthal B.A. ’89, Owner/CEO of Tompkins Square
Record Label & Publishing Company
What do you find most challenging
about your job?
I am the owner and CEO of Tompkins Square, a record label and publishing company. I started the label in 2005 after 15 years at SONY Music in New York. The music business is one of the most disrupted industries in the world. The move from a buying economy to a listening economy has really thrown things into a new sphere. But there are many new opportunities in the digital space, and there is still a market for packaged goods if you’re strategic about it.
How did your time at UAlbany
prepare you for your career?
I spent a lot of time at WCDB as Music Director. There were alums who worked there before me who got jobs right out of school in the business; Jack Isquith, Craig Marks, Diarmuid Quinn. All those guys are still active. In many ways, the radio station was my most important classroom. I would attend industry conventions. I dealt with promoters. I talked to record companies. I hosted artists. And then I got hired right out of school at Columbia Records.
Who was your favorite faculty member, or what was your favorite
class at UAlbany and why?
Tom Smith. Big, burly and so engaging in the classroom. He was an English professor, and led the Writers Institute. He would do wonderful impressions of Yeats and Oscar Wilde, and his passion for literature was incredibly inspiring. I think about him all the time. He died while swimming on campus, which was tragic. William Kennedy described him best, “...a man of such giant intellect that those who engaged it felt like dwarfs.”
What is your favorite memory of your time spent at UAlbany?
Reading James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ with Tom Smith; having Elvis Costello on my radio show; seeing Roy Orbison at the Palace Theatre.
What advice would you give current students?
I have been back on campus to speak to students about careers. We didn’t have computers when I was at UAlbany. Think about that. Everything about work is changing. I would advise students that unless you are going into a field where there’s long-term job security, like healthcare for example, you must build an entrepreneurial capacity within yourself. If you get tired of working for the man, you can take some risks and create your own work world. Cultivate that spirit now, because sooner or later you are going to need it.