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5 Tips for Musicians to Become Entrepreneurs | Music Business | Panos Panay

5 Tips for Musicians to Become Entrepreneurs | Music Business | Panos Panay


[MUSIC] So in this video we’re going to be
talking about entrepreneurship, and why musicians make great
entrepreneurs generally speaking. So I’m joined with Panos Panay. And he is the Vice President for
Innovation and Strategy with Berklee College of Music. So thank you, Panos, for being here today.>>Thank you.>>So what is entrepreneurship? I feel like that’s a term that’s
kind of tossed around a lot. And some people know what it means,
most people don’t. So tell us, what is entrepreneurship?>>Well, for one, it’s a very complicated
word and impossible to spell.>>It is impossible to spell. [LAUGH]
>>But for me entrepreneurship is more of a state
of mind and a bias towards action and willingness to be creative,
to experiment, to fail. Interestingly the original
application of the word, actually was first used for the concept
of a music promoter back in France. And it’s something that fascinated me, especially as I’ve been
going through this journey. So for me, I don’t think there’s such
a thing as a prototypical entrepreneur. Again it’s an act of wanting
to create something of value. But I don’t see that as any
different from the desire to express something as a creative person. We tend to use the word
entrepreneurship here at Berkelee, in its far broader application,
rather than the very narrow definition. And similar to the way that we actually
see the concept of being a musician. We don’t just think of it as
an act of performing, but more as a way of relating to
the world in a fairly unique way.>>I’ve taken your creativity and
entrepreneurship course, I’ve gone through it. And I love when you talk about kind of how
musicians already have a lot of the key components and the makings of someone
who might be considered an entrepreneur. So can you talk a little
bit more about that and kind of this creativity
that you’re discussing now?>>Well,
I went through that journey myself. So I graduated from Berkelee,
I came here to be a musician. And I ended up pursuing a business path
and starting my own business in Sonicbids. And for years, to be honest with you, I sort of ran away from
the fact that I was a musician. And it wasn’t until I came to
Berkeley to start the Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship that I,
sort of though a lot about my background. And I did conclude that, actually,
I always thought as a musician. I like to say that if you’re a musician
you can’t perform music unless you’re a good listener. If you are a traditional
prototypical entrepreneur, then the ability to be hyperaware and observant of the environment around
you and the changes that happen. So you can apply the musical metaphor,
right, the chord changes onto
the entrepreneurial journey. So unless you’re hypersensitive
to what’s happening around you, you won’t be successful
in either discipline.>>And that goes for creating music and also being aware of the market
that you’re in a group.>>Without a doubt.>>Right.>>And musicians are extremely intuitive. Any musician on any stage has this sixth
sense, if you will, of what’s going on around them, and how the audience
feeling at that particular time. That is the same sense that you use as
an entrepreneur in terms of gauging market demand. How your customers feel about something. But then another area that fascinates
me is this concept of collaboration. We often think,
at least on the business side, that well, if you just define
the roles that you need. Then you just go and hire the people that
play those parts and everything is fine. But that’s not quite the case. I think a far more applicable
analog to this is actually the way that musicians go about collaborating and
making music. It’s both multi-disciplinary, but
it’s also extremely intuitive. And there’s an inherent trust
involved in the music making process. I trust that you know what you’re doing,
and that you trust that I know what I’m doing. But more importantly, we trust that
as a unit, whether it’s a duo, a trio, a quartet,
whatever it may be, right? That as a unit, we will create
something interesting together, even if we’re just meeting for
the first time. There’s that unspoken understanding and
trust, that to some degree the end product that we will create
together will be interesting. Because I trust that you’re going to bring
something unique to this conversation. In the entrepreneurial process,
especially in the early days of something. That’s a far better way of
selecting who you work with, rather than just sort of
writing on a sheet of paper. Well, I need an accountant, I need
a salesperson, I need a marketing person, I need a coder. Often, some of the best companies on
the planet were started because two people just kind of quote vibed. So in thinking a lot
about this I feel that, in today’s world where change is constant. Thinking a lot more like a musician
when it comes to concepts of paying attention to the environment. Listening to your instincts with
respect to who you collaborate with, thinking quickly and improvisationally. Being able to quote own the stage and
present an effective argument, which is what a musician intuitively
does every night they get on a stage. They convince an audience
of a new reality, right? Those instincts, for me, are far more
applicable to the entrepreneurial journey than traditional sort
of business think, if you will. Life is not that neat, it’s not about
writing a perfect business plan and executing flawlessly against that. I like to use the analogy of gardening
versus architecting something. You’re much more of a gardener
when you’re running a business than you’re an architect. If you have this trust, then the concept of a leader is actually
continuously evolving based on situations, similar to the way that musicians
interact in a live setting on stage.>>Yeah, absolutely, and
I think being aware of, as a leader, I think being aware of your strengths and
your weaknesses really play into that. So that you can surround yourself
with people who can augment the things that maybe you struggle with. So that you can really begin
to trust those people and create something really special.>>Yeah, another area that I’ve been
talking actually quite a bit about is that, failure, which is the big f-word
in entrepreneurship, is an endemic part of
the music making process. Even if you’re the world’s most
accomplished musician, the first time that you try anything you will fail, and you
accept it as part of the learning journey. As a matter of fact,
the only way to master anything, is to fail time and again. For some reason in our careers, or
in our business endeavors, if you will. We tend to associate failure with an end,
rather than as a step to a process.>>As an iterative process.>>As an iterative process.>>So can you give some concrete,
tangible advice for these kinds of burgeoning artists on how to actually take
these skills that they may already have. And really transfer them over to
the business side of managing a band, of doing the publicity for their band. All that kind of stuff that
the business side of things entails.>>Yeah,
I would say don’t separate the two. Look at them as two critical
parts of your ability to bring what’s inside of you, outside. And that the quote business side of you, is actually no different than
the creative side of you. We are one person, right? And you shouldn’t sort of say, well
now I’m putting my business hat on and I’m leaving my creativity aside. Actually, what makes you successful
as a musician is the very thing that’s going to make you
successful as an entrepreneur. Also, don’t approach the business side,
if there is such a thing as something that’s the equivalent
of chewing bitter greens.>>[LAUGH]
>>Right, if you approach it as part of your creative expression,
and that it’s something fun. Just as fun as creating music but you’re
creating, quote, music in a different way. That just as you get enjoyment from
standing in front of an audience and moving them, right? Because of the power of what you’re
communicating to them through your music. If you apply that and you say, well, I’m going to enjoy moving
my prospective consumers or customers in the same way, but
I’m using different levers. You’ll enjoy the process a lot better. And also understanding
that unless you do that, barring maybe the desire to be a hobbyist. Then you will never have the ability to
accomplish what you set out to accomplish. Which I think for any creative person, it’s the ability
to communicate with others. And bring this gift that’s
inside of you to them and moving them because you’re doing that.>>I absolutely agree with
everything that you’re saying. I think that it deepens your
understanding of your fans and it deepens their understanding of you.>>Yeah, I think that it’s
important that whatever you do, that it feels consistent
with your values and with your authentic self, if you will. So I think it’s important to,
not approach this if, well, I just have to be great at everything. I have to learn how to crowdfund. And I have to learn how to use Twitter,
and Facebook, and Pinterest, and Instagram, and so forth. Find those channels that are authentic and
feel real to you. Work at them, because look, nothing is
going to feel natural the first time. Just like again, going back to your
musical instincts the first time that you got on stage was probably
the most terrifying thing ever. And just like the first time that you
picked up the guitar, or played the piano, or programmed Ableton, or
whatever maybe, right? So that’s my advice to
people starting out. But critical that you try,
that you understand that this is just as important if you will as whatever,
learning your scales, practicing whatever vocals you’re doing. It’s just part of the same thing.>>That is excellent advice. So is there any kind of last
idea that you want to share?>>Sure,
work with people that are interesting and people that you have fun working with. I’ve learned in my career that
the most difficult decisions, but the most important decisions you make, are not about money,
they’re not about products. They’re not about songs, they’re not about
where you live, I mean, it’s not all that. [LAUGH] Actually they tend to be about
the people that surround yourself with. Going back to the first thing
we discussed, it’s trust. So to play with people and to create
something enjoyable and different, that needs to be the first
thing that’s present.>>Absolutely,
I completely and 100% agree. [LAUGH] I want to make sure
that I can trust my musicians, that I can trust my producer,
my manager, anybody that I work with. I think that’s the number
one thing that I look for, is this someone who shares my vision, and
I trust that they have my vision at heart. So thank you so much, Panos,
for joining us today, taking time out of your busy,
busy schedule, and thanks.>>Thank you.

Comments (8)

  1. His words were right on! I learned so much!

  2. nice interview and very cool outro song!

  3. The analogy of the gardener and the understanding of collaborative motion was a take home for me.

  4. Sun Dragon thanks you. Learning as much as possible is important to me. Your perspective ia appreciated.

  5. Almost halfway through…..not getting the point yet

  6. A good friend and I had a very heated debate because he dictated that I should choose between being a musician performing and being a Business Manager. While I agree with getting a team around me to lead in various areas of business I believe I must have oversight of the business.

    I see how that combination worked for NIPSY Hussel! I also observed how as great a musician that Miles Davis was, he lost financially because he didn’t have oversight of the business aspect of his music.

  7. Thank you for sharing this. myself i am FIRST a musician and became an entrepreneur a few years ago. On the way, many times I was trying to SPLIT this too roles: Musician and Entrepreneur/businessman, but then I realized that embracing the superpowers is the key. Develop the skills, reinforce what you have and find people to support on your weaknesses.

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