Being a Successful Entrepreneur— Envision the Future

Posted on February 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm by
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When I was a doctoral student, I was in a class that had an assignment that asked us to think into the future twenty years and forecast what the music profession would look like.  I wish I still had that paper.  It would be fun to see how far off I was.  Anyway, one student was very frustrated with the assignment.  She just couldn’t get into it.  I remember one of her comments.   “What should we do?  Take LSD to help stimulate our imaginations?”  OK, it was the 60s.  But talk about inside-the-box thinking!   She was all about what was going on in the present and pretty short on imagination!

That student not withstanding, it’s kind of fun to think about future trends.  Here is a thought I had just today.  I have a student who is finishing his doctorate in jazz studies, and he is writing a dissertation.  I’m not his primary advisor, but I’m on his committee and so I have to read this document, make comments and edits and when it is in good shape I’ll sign off on it.  There are three of us on his committee.  As I read his dissertation today I thought,  “The content is great, but the delivery system is very antiquated.  It has a footnote about every other sentence, and because it is about music it has tons of musical examples.”  I’m thinking that this is the same format as forty years ago when I went through the identical process with my dissertation.  Why can’t this be done in an electronic format with links to the footnotes and embedded musical examples?  It would be so much more user-friendly.  The reader could hear the examples while looking at the music.  I know that the technology is there.  In our website, polyphonic.org, we embedded sound files in one of our articles two years ago.[i]  Maybe there is no need to do this for a dissertation (if you assume that it will never be read again except by a handful of scholars), but I will wager that ten years from now more books will be published in electronic format than hard copy, and that they will have all sorts of interactive add-ons available.  The publishing industry is already firmly headed in this direction.

In envisioning the future, I am reminded of this quote that is attributed to hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.  It’s a good one.  When asked how he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and consequently scored more goals than others, he replied, “I don’t go where the puck is.  I go to where the puck will be.”  Try to be like Gretzky.


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Being a Successful Entrepreneur— There Is No One Model for Entrepreneurs—Gain Experience First

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 6:48 am by
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If you have read my book, Lessons From a Street-Wise Professor, think back to Chapter 9: “Five Non-Linear Career Journeys.”  These are stories of very successful entrepreneurial musicians.  I chose to include them because they represent five different areas of the music business, but I had a secondary reason as well.  They all have reached their goals in different ways.  There really is no one single road to success in music.  If you gain experience, be observant, have good role models and develop an entrepreneurial mindset, your time will come.

Once a friend of a friend asked me what her daughter could do to prepare for a career in music.  Her daughter was then a high school student and was considering a college major in music.  Half-jokingly I gave her a flip answer. I said, “Tell her she should 1) get a paper route, because then she will know how many papers she has to deliver just to purchase one CD; and 2) get a ukulele, because she will learn how to harmonize tunes with just three chords.”  In other words, know the value of a dollar and work on your ears.  But, something was lost in my profundity: I forgot that kids haven’t had paper routes in 30 years.  Got to change that one.

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