Learn by listening and by doing

Learn by listening and by doing

With my spring semester in the rearview mirror, and the fall semester up ahead, I’m trying to take advantage of this time of year — the summer months — to catch up on and even get ahead on my work with a few things at Gloria Green Entertainment.

I don’t keep my company going each year because I have nothing better to do when I’m not in the classroom. I keep Gloria Green Entertainment going because there’s nothing I like better than continuing to work in the entertainment industry. I think remaining engaged with what’s going on in the music industry makes me a better Professor of Music Business in Academia. And continuing to work directly with clients at my company helps to make me a better entertainment executive on behalf of those clients. 

I don’t think anyone can ever reach a point in their life, in any field of study or career, where there’s not room to learn more.  And in this every changing entertainment environment, with new laws, new players in the biz, and new technology, there’s always opportunities to learn how to do something better, more efficiently, more financially beneficial, and more successful for you, your client; and in my case, even my students.

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 That’s why I’ve spent a week in May for the past four years at the Music Biz conference in Nashville. It’s a chance for me to add to my educational repertoire, gathering new information about how the general public consumes, purchases, shares, and engage with entertainment. And also hear about the latest technology impacting how the industry creates, distributes, markets, and promotes artists. As an Educator, it’s also an opportunity for me and my colleagues to share with the industry what we’re doing from a teaching prospective. Which is why I’ve made it a point to try to not just attend, but speak at this conference for the past few years, and hope to continue being involved.

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Music Business education and the Music Business industry have to work in partnership with each other to survive. It’s like I often tell people who work in the industry and ask me what I do. I tell them “I teach your future employees.” That is a true statement that not many people think about. It’s easy to just think that college is for learning, and the job is for doing. But if employers want good employees who have some idea about what they’re doing; know something already about the industry; and maybe specifically know about their company — then it makes the transition smoother for that graduate to become the employee they can’t do without.

So the industry needs to have a vested interest in what’s going on in the various music business programs at universities around the country. And music business educators must be willing to invest time in continuing education by attending industry conferences, watching webinars, reading trade publications, and seeking other opportunities to stay connected.

Learning by listening and learning by doing are equally important in my book! And doing both is something that I owe to my clients, my students, and myself.

 

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Torrez Marketing & Productions

So 2018 is here! You’ve made more personal new year’s resolutions, and now you’re re-evaluating your professional goals; reassessing which ones you reached last year, and what changes you want to make for this year.

If one of those goals include starting your own business, expanding the company you already have, creating a secondary revenue stream, or turning that hobby into a source of income, then one of the things you’ll want to be sure not to overlook is your Marketing plan.

I often tell my music business students that it doesn’t matter how talented they are, how well they can sing, or how many songs they’ve written. If they don’t know how to promote and market themselves, then they won’t be able to sell their music, increase their fanbase, and grow their business. The same principle applies for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Let me introduce you to Gabe and Danielle Torrez and their company Torrez Marketing & Productions (TMP). Gabe and Danielle are storytellers from Nashville, TN. Driven by a desire to make your brand shine, TMP specializes in creating shareable content that your followers, friends and business contacts will want to watch and repost.

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Prior to creating TMP, Gabe Torrez worked on the creative team at Bethel World Outreach Church bringing messages to life through video and visuals. Danielle (Kimmey) Torrez formerly worked as Director of Marketing for eOne’s Worship division, and is best known for being one-third of the singing group Out of Eden.

Together, Gabe and Danielle take their shared industry knowledge and utilize it to create fascinating business branding videos, music videos, wedding videos, and much more.

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To contact TMP for more information and pricing packages, email Gabe Torrez at torreztmp@gmail.com or call 615.500.0596. Samples of their work can be found on Youtube at Torrez Marketing & Production.

Where Education Meets Real Life!

As the calendar year winds to a close, I decided to take some time to think back over the last two academic semesters this year. This has been busy year, both in and outside the classroom.

I have always approached teaching in the Music Business program with the thought that Academia needs the Industry, as much as the Industry needs Academia. Educated graduates benefits everyone. So from day one, I’ve always looked beyond the textbook, choosing to incorporate guest speakers from the music and entertainment industry into the curriculum of every course I teach. In addition, I make it a personal practice to remain engaged in the industry, through organizational memberships, presentations at industry conferences, and attending industry events to maintain business relationships, and to continue learning and remaining current with what’s going on in the music business today. I do all that so that I’m always able to present my students not just with the knowledge of industry terms, definitions, and the basics of working in the business; which are all very important. But also in an effort to help them to be ready to walk across the commencement stage, right onto the stage of life; the real life of working, growing, and succeeding in their chosen field.

Bringing industry executives in to speak is always a real treat, as students have the opportunity to hear from Song Pluggers, Publishing Administrators, Booking Agents, Artist Managers, Entertainment Publicists, and Tour Managers.

We traveled down to Nashville for some industry showcases:

And again to Nashville to visit top Talent Agencies:

 

 

I also encourage my students to volunteer at various music conferences and attend networking events:

I’ll admit that my approach to teaching does require more of my energy, more creativity, and more out-of-the-classroom time, as I work to make every event tie-in to what we’re learning, and how to apply it to real world working. But it’s worth it as I watch some students listen more intently when they meet people who are doing what they want to do when they graduate. And pushing students out of their comfort zones, getting them to do some things they don’t want to do, or they didn’t think they could complete successfully. And then seeing the results of them making a connection, and getting that internship or job. Or getting email from former students who talk about how they didn’t realize just how much they were learning in class, until they had to apply that knowledge at work.

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An industry friend shared this graphic with a group of my students at a Tour Management Workshop.* I kept it because it applies to so much more; to life itself. It was a reminder to them that success (the iceberg) required a lot of sacrifice to achieve. Sometimes people only see what’s above the surface (the success), but they don’t take note of all of the hard work, persistence, discipline, rejection, courage, risks and other things required to achieve it. But that’s also why it’s important for people to surrounded themselves with good habits, passion, honesty, and dedication to maintain that success.

Education is important. But where education meets real life makes it even more worthwhile. Helps me to enjoy what I do even more. I can’t wait to get another year started!

 

  • Success graphic provided by Eric Kilby, Director of Touring for Compassion Productions

What Happened to Summer?

IMG_4300Wait what?!! Is it time for school already? Where did the last three months go?! Maybe I say that every year, but I don’t think I’ve had a summer quite as busy as this one. Funny thing is that while most people think teachers and professors “get summers off,” they don’t realize how much work we’re involved in during those months — research, writing, presenting, prepping classes with fresh material — and that’s not even taking into consideration that sometimes that includes teaching summer school classes. Teaching summer school wasn’t in the cards for me this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a packed year filled with plenty of school/work related projects filling up those weeks.

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Was there anything else happening around the country this summer?  EclipseMTSU had its own official viewing event, including artists from our record label, astronomers and other scientists from our university, and a great place to view the historic totality event.

My job that day was to help transport the student artists to and from the stage and the “make-shift ” backstage green room area — a room in the College of Media & Entertainment! The music was presented by several artists, and me always being in the PR mindset wherever I go, I used every opportunity to also try to get them in front of any of the reporters on campus with a microphone and the time for an interview! 

At the end of the day, the event didn’t disappoint. And so it was more fun than work!

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Before the Eclipse, there was LA

The time I spent in the library working on a paper in June paid off when I had the opportunity to present that paper two months later at the MIRA conference (Music Industry Research Association) in Los Angeles. I was excited most about this opportunity because the association included a number of people from outside the music industry. MIRA’s goal is to bring together experts from different disciplines who are doing research about music and the music industry. I had the chance to meet and later speak to other academics, including some from Business Schools, as well as researchers from music platforms, like Pandora, and other music industry professionals.

 

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I also managed to squeeze in another speaking engagement, this time with the ladies of the Nashville chapter of WiFT. The topic was on how to engage students and academia into independent projects. I have enjoyed the chance to connect with other people and non-academic organizations this summer; expanding my network.

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One of the first things I say to my students during the first week of school is that while they might be enrolled in the Music Business program of a Recording Industry Department, today’s music industry is as much about the bigger picture of the Entertainment industry — music, film, television, video, sports — as it is just about songwriting, recording, and performing live music! You have to get out and meet and mingle with other people doing things that might influence — directly or indirectly — what you do, and expand your network to keep creativity at the forefront.

Looking forward to what this new academic school year will bring; new faces, mostly open minds, with their own dreams of making it in this Music Business!

Labor Day is Not Just for Cookouts

So we’re two weeks into the new college academic school year, and we’re having our first break — Labor Day! Every few years, I like to remind myself of the historical significance of some of the holidays we often take for granted. Labor Day is one of those. Another day off from work; no school; an extension of the summer vacation. I’ve heard it referred to by almost everything except what it was designed for, and the reason the first Monday of every September was put aside as a holiday.

According to the Department of Labor’s website, Labor Day is intended to be dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first governmental recognition of Labor Day came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Like many other American holidays, I sometimes think if the real meaning and purposes of these days, which we set aside for either celebration or remembrance of something significant to the values, growth, or protection our country, are buried under the day-long or weekend obligations of parties and picnics; camping and cookouts. Or drowned out by the advertising sounds of retail shopping, car dealer sales, and specials on in-ground pools and summer inventory clearance!

Social and economic achievements of American workers. That’s saying a lot; especially in these modern times. How often do we think about what we do, and how those things contribute to these achievements every day?

There’s a lot of “labor” that goes into working in the entertainment industry; whether you work in motion pictures, television, radio, sports; even gaming. And then there’s music, which I believe also helps to contribute to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”  They all require a labor force!

Not everyone understands that while from the outside, this industry might look glamorous, the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to make it successful. “Overnight” successes are years in the making. And it could be decades before you see sustainability in many artist’s careers.

The word “labor,” means to “work” or “hard work.” The noun for “work,” is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. In spite of the definitions, people still complain when they have to “work;” and when what they’re doing is “hard,” and requires a mental or physical challenge.

I asked students an open-ended question on their first quiz this semester. I wanted to know what they were looking forward to learning and getting out of the Artist Management class. There were several predictable answers expected from someone taking a course such as this. But one student made mention of the fact that while they were interested in working in the music industry, they didn’t want a job that required more than a 40-hour work week.

I chuckled when I read this, but I did not directly challenge the student on their thinking. Obviously there are some jobs in the industry that are basic 9 to 5 type of positions. But I did take the opportunity to let them know that management was not one of them; neither would be most of the jobs related to building an artist’s career.

Working in the music industry, and certainly in artist management, is not for those more interested in keeping up with the clock and hitting some magical “end of the work week.” It requires labor. Hard work. And it will at times be taxing on both the mental and physical capacity of the person doing it. But if it’s something you’re seriously interested in doing, it can and will also be rewarding. And like most things, that means it’ll be worth the time.

Why Creating a Life Plan is Important

I just completed a 12-month long Faculty Fellows program at the university where I teach. In addition to attending several workshops geared towards faculty development, and creating a Teaching Philosophy Statement (TPS), I was also charged with putting together a Faculty Development Plan (FDP). I found it to be very beneficial, not only to my career, but to my personal development as well.

As timing would have it, I was working on the completion of my FDP around the same time as I happen to be meeting with a couple of former students seeking career advice, and some potential clients to discuss the possibility of working together. I talked to all of them about the importance of first knowing where it is they wanted to go, so that they could develop a plan on how to get there. In the Artist Management class I teach, I often refer to this with my students as having a map that outlines the pathway to their plan. My analogy would typical begin with me giving them a destination — we’re all going to Montana — and then asking them how do we get to Montana (without booking a flight)? I then would tell them that simply jumping into the car and hitting the highway was not the answer. Because if they left Nashville, TN heading East, they would never reach their destination of Montana. And even if they headed west, they would still need to know which roads to take, how far away was the destination, the actual directions for ending up in the right place in Montana, and then have a plan for how they would fund their trip (i.e. gas, overnight hotel stays, etc.).

A student who graduates without any indication of what they want to do makes it difficult for someone trying to help them land a job interview, or pass their resume on to the right company. Likewise, someone launching a company, ministry, or other service, needs to have an idea of what is is they want to do; who it is they want to reach; and how they plan to reach them? Otherwise, they may end up wading through the swamps of the Carolina Lowcountry instead of climbing snow peaked mountains of Colorado!

So a few things occurred to me as I put the finishing touches on the first draft of my faculty development plan. The first was how difficult it was to outline what I wanted to do, when I wasn’t 100 percent certain about how I ended up doing what I was already doing. Trying to outline what my faculty plan was for the next year needed to take into consideration what my overall plan was for my career as a Professor. I had not consciously thought about where it was I wanted to be, or what exactly I wanted to be doing one, five, and even 10 years from now — other than teaching. But what did that mean? And what did it look like? And how was I planning to accomplish that? Those were the questions I needed to ask myself and dig deeper for the answers. Of course, some aspects of my plan are out of my control. There are certain things the position demands of me to continue moving forward in my career — research, creative activity, community involvement — among others. But the specifics of those things are in part, up to me. I just have to figure out what they are and how I am going to accomplish them.

Setting Goals. Outlining Strategies. Determining action steps. That’s what I teach.

Oftentimes, my students tell me they’re in the Music Business program because they love music and their parents said they had to go to college. Their biggest goal, as far as they’re concerned, is graduating and finding a job. Many of them haven’t a clue as to what or where; as long as they satisfy their parents with a degree, and satisfy their debt by finding a job. But I quickly remind them that without a plan outlining the bigger picture of what they want, they may end up getting only what is within their reach — a degree in one hand, and “just a job” in the other. Without goals to work towards, and strategies to work on, they could end up at ANY job but not at THE job that they expressed a passion for and interest in getting. Indeed many of them are still working the same retail, fast food, part-time jobs that they had in college, one, two, and even three years since graduating from college.

But career planning isn’t just for college students preparing for post-graduation life. Creating a life plan should be important to everyone.

There’s something to be said about writing out your goals. But once those goals are in writing, outlining specific strategies on how to accomplish them will help put action to them. Goals with strategies are just dreams of thing you want, without the commitment of saying exactly how you intended to get them. And for those strategies to be realized, then you have to also DO something. You can’t just say where you want to go and write out of plan on how you want to get there. At some point, you have to get in the car, gas it up, and start driving. The map will tell you where you need to go. But you have to GO!

So that’s where I am. Taking the advice I give my own clients and students. As I put the final touches on the final version of my one-year FDP, I am outlining all of the specific action steps I need to take to accomplish the strategies I’ve written out that are designed to help me achieve the goals that formulated my overall plan.

Where is it you want go? Have you thought about how you’re going to get there? What are you doing to put those thoughts in to action steps to meet your goals?

Do you have a Life Plan?

Listening is not the same as Learning

Just two months before the start of another school year. I’m not counting down in anticipation of returning to work. But I am thinking about how fast life seems to be flying by. Three weeks ago I attended my niece’s high school graduation.

The thought of her being 18 and heading off to college this fall is just mind blowing. There’s the obvious…the passage of time that just doesn’t keep up with the calendar, the clock, and everything else that makes it unbelievable that I’m 18 years older this month, anymore than it does that she’s a high school graduate!

Then there’s the realization that she, like so many other teenagers, are heading off to college, ready of their freshmen year; full of knowledge, hope, excitement, and — unfortunately, already set in her way. You know, like many of us were who “knew everything already;” whose parents were old-fashion and out of touch, and couldn’t tell us anything. And even when they tried, we didn’t listen.

But these students? The ones I see in class and walking around campus. The teenage and young adults who spend the money and the time attending school, and who say they’re interested in a career in the music industry, but their actions (and inaction) doesn’t support what their words are saying. I’m still scratching my head at many of them.

The music industry is a competitive place. Getting a job in it has almost nothing to do with what degree you earn. But it does have to do with what information you learned; knowledge you gained; experiences you had; people you met; abilities and talents you have; and the drive to succeed.

I spoke at and lead a panel discussion at the Music Biz conference in Nashville back in May. The topic was on how students could increase their chances of alining internships during school, and jobs after graduation. The three-day conference cost several hundreds of dollars for industry persons attending, but less than $75.00 for students. There were dozens of seminars offered throughout the day; industry-related social activities each night; an awards luncheon included in the costs, and literally hundreds of professional industry executives and other persons speaking, sitting on panels, and walking the halls of the event. I spent months talking about the event coming up; weeks strongly encouraging students to register and attend; and even in the final days of school, had emails sent to everyone in the program. In spite of that, not even a dozen students attended.

 

So if a student or anyone else, says they’re interested in finding a job in the music industry, why would they not want to take advantage of opportunities to learn more about it; to meet people doing it; and to network with others who are also trying to get in it? Why does a student need to be pushed into finding internships, or volunteering at industry functions, or joining industry-related clubs and organizations?

Shouldn’t those who are serious about a career in the industry be in happy active pursuit and doing all they can to be competitive enough to get the job!?

My niece isn’t pursing a degree or career in the music industry. She wants to be a nurse; a neonatal nurse to be exact. She plans to spend her life helping to save babies’ lives. I applaud her for that. It’s something she’s been interested in since she was a young child herself; and it never changed through the years. But my prayer for her is the same thing that I say to my students — that their desire is not to learn enough to pass a test or get a good grade in class. But their desire should be to gain the kind of knowledge they will need to put what they’ve learned to use in the real world, and do something to make it a better place for everyone!