Ilium Records continues to shape the future of the music industry


In 2007, the new music industry program at the University of Troy launched a bold venture that would come to life.

Under the direction of Program Director Robert W. Smith, Music industry the students started Ilium Records, a student-run record label designed to promote Trojan horse music while giving current students a taste of the business side of music.

Next year will mark 15 years for Ilium, and his legacy continues to grow.

The genesis of the label took place when Smith returned to TROY in the fall of 2006.

“The music industry program had been approved, so Dr Larry Blocher contacted me to come back to TROY,” said Smith, who had previously been the university’s group director before embarking on a business. career at Warner Bros. “I had one. one of those opportunities in life that you can’t turn down, going to work for Warner Bros. Then a few years later, Dr Blocher said, “Remember that music industry program we talked about? We have it now. It was the perfect time in life for me to come home.

Ava Barrett is one of the TROY students who have recorded with Ilium Records.

What Smith and Blocher envisioned as a relatively small program with only a few students was instead launched with great popularity among the student body.

“What has happened is that the music industry and education in the music industry are very popular,” Smith said. “He grew exponentially, very quickly. We knew we needed something to be the glue, the heart and the soul of it all.

Enter Ilium Records.

“There is a group of students that I care about because they came up with everything with me,” Smith said. “To cite one case, Kelly Efstathiou was a major in graphic design and a minor in the music industry. She has also proven to be a very great songwriter and majorette in the Sound of the South. Kelly was the one who marked us. His main project in art and design was to create the Ilium Records brand. “

Fourteen years later, the initial design of the logo and the brand image of Efstathiou remain a testament to their quality.

“In 2021, it still looks good. It’s timeless and has legs, ”Smith said.

For his part, the artist remembers the effervescence of the early days of Ilium.

“I remember I was really excited about it, because Robert wanted to have a really professional experience, so he created a music studio presentation,” Efstathiou said. “He brought in musicians from the Sound of the South, taught us how to use professional tools and how to run a studio. He set up composition lessons, and that’s when I really learned to write well. I was the first to combine the Graphic Design program with the Music Industry program. It was something really special for me.

With the founding of the POPulus University Pop Music Ensemble a few years after Ilium’s founding, the record company began releasing new original student music every year in the form of annual POPulus albums.

“Ilium Records is an independent, student-run record label, so our students have the opportunity to understand the ever-changing and ever-changing music industry,” said Smith. “For example, we were in the record business to sell records. Now we don’t do that. We’re in the record business to promote the brand now and get people to use and play the recordings, and sell merchandise. What a great opportunity for our students each year to release a brand new album, a brand new project. “

The music industry program has a long line of success stories and dates back to Ilium Records.

Efstathiou, for example, graduated and became one half of inspirational, award-winning country music duo Cori & Kelly. The duo are expected to release their second album this year.

“Anyone looking for a career in the music industry would benefit from this program,” she said. “It blows my mind to think about how it started and what it is now. Students can take out a portfolio to present to those with whom they are looking for employment. I have seen several students posting recently that they are now in Nashville or South Florida working in music thanks to their background in the music industry program and at Ilium Records. I really appreciate Robert and the skills he taught me because it has all been very beneficial where I am today.

Meanwhile, the first member of POPulus, according to Smith, was Wyatt Edmondson.

“He was my first recruit – a model, an outstanding student at TROY,” said Smith. “He now has an incredible career as a songwriter.

Edmondson’s success since leaving TROY includes composing music for “Veggie Tales” and working with Carrie Underwood. Recently, her song “Pontoon State of Mind” became a theme song for the Avalon boat company.

Smith is proud of the professional success of his students, especially those who sharpened their musical teeth at Ilium Records. Their experience at TROY directly fuels their subsequent success and reputation.

“Students learn to create and market recordings in all genres,” he said. “If Ilium is the heartbeat, POPulus is the soul. Between Ilium and POPulus, this twinning of these entities gives our students the opportunity to experience the music industry while they are on our campus. We’ve seen exceptionally high employment rates from our students – overall, 75 percent of our music industry students are employed as they cross the stage to accept a Chancellor’s degree.

For Smith, the living legacy of Ilium Records exists in its alumni and current students.

“The reality is that to work in music entertainment, you don’t need a degree. But you still have to come to TROY and get your degree, ”he said. “Why? I argue that a year here in our program with Ilium Records is worth five years on the street. Students can graduate in four years, and that will literally give them a 20-year head start in the industry. . The legacy will be in their life of success. What is most important to me is their life of success and their future career. “


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