School of Communications presents Tom Mullen ’00 with Outstanding Alumnus Award

The Atlantic Records executive was lauded for his “entrepreneurial passion and pursuit” at a Nov. 2 luncheon held during Elon University’s Homecoming weekend.

The School of Communications kicked off Homecoming weekend with a celebration of one of its own, presenting Tom Mullen ’00 with its Outstanding Alumnus Award. The vice president of marketing catalogs and podcasts for Atlantic Records was recognized at a Nov. 2 alumni luncheon, honoring his post-graduation pursuits centered around his passion for music.

Following a Nov. 2 alumni luncheon during Homecoming weekend, Tom Mullen ’00 and Communications Dean Rochelle Ford pose with Mullen’s new Outstanding Alumnus Award. Photos by Jess Rapfogel ’19
​During her introduction of Mullen at a luncheon in Snow Family Grand Atrium, Communications Dean Rochelle Ford praised the Atlantic Records executive for his “entrepreneurial passion and pursuit and dedication.”

As it were, those same traits were apparent the day he arrived on campus.

Mullen’s steady rise through the music industry had humble beginnings “under the oaks” at Elon. As a first-year student, he just wanted to land his own radio show, playing the music he was passionate about.

As the keynote speaker at WSOE’s 40th anniversary ceremony last spring, Mullen noted the integral role the student-run station played in his time on campus, and how it ultimately jumpstarted to his career.

Mullen said one of his biggest professional breaks came not from his resume but because he was a music fan. As a student in the late-1990s, he realized his favorite band didn’t have a website. So, he created one from content he found online. A friendship with the band formed.

Through connections he made with the band, Mullen landed his first job, a digital position with Cornerstone Promotion, a marketing and public relations agency in New York. That eventually led to stops at TVT Records, Equal Vision Records, Vagrant Records, EMI Music and Sony Music Entertainment.

During his career in the music industry, Mullen has worked with some of the entertainment industry’s most recognizable names, including Katy Perry, Jeff Bridges, Fred Armisen and The Clash.
​In his current position, Mullen oversees the marketing for the catalog of Atlantic Records’ currently signed artists, including popular musicians such as Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Death Cab for Cutie and Missy Elliott. Recently, he added the label’s podcasts endeavors to his list of responsibilities.

But Mullen is likely best known in the music industry for the work he’s done outside the office.

The broadcast communications major created WashedUpEmo.com, a popular blog he founded in 2007 that grew into a podcast, radio show and DJ night dedicated to the late-1990s emo genre. These after-hours endeavors were highlighted in a 2015 Paste magazine article, titled “The Medium: How Tom Mullen Took a Stand for Emo.”

In early 2018, Mullen published a book, titled “Anthology of Emo: Volume One,” examining the emotionally charged musical genre that rose from the punk and hardcore scene.

At the luncheon, Ford complimented Mullen for turning “his passion for the emo genre of music into a career.”

Mullen addresses audience members during the luncheon in Snow Family Grand Atrium.
​Before formally presenting Mullen’s award, Ford also shared insights about the Elon graduate from Ross Wade, director of career development, and Tom Nelson, associate professor of communications.

Wade thanked Mullen for being a “true advocate for Elon students and alumni.”

“He cares deeply about being a meaningful resource to help young professionals pursuing careers in music,” Ross told Ford. “Not only is Tom a wealth of information – he is also honest about the music industry, what it takes to succeed, and the importance of being professional not only at work, but when pursuing work. He loves music, what he does, and is a remarkable example to young Elon professionals.”

Nelson commended Mullen for being an early adopter of Elon’s engaged and experiential learning style, while also being a trailblazer. “He blazed his own course and found a way to monetize his passion,” Nelson said.

Mullen is the eighth recipient of the School of Communications Alumnus/Alumna Award. Past honorees include Jo Craven McGinty ’85, Wes Durham ’88 and Laith Majali ’05, as well as current Communications Advisory Board members Troy Senkiewicz ’98 and Colleen Herndon Penhall ’98. 

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