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
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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.

August

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.

 

Women in Film and Television

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!

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!