The inaugural music entrepreneurship retreat, The Savvy Musician in ACTION, came to an exhausting and exhilarating finish for 57 participants from around the country. An initiative of Spark: Carolina’s Music Leadership Laboratory, the retreat offered a high energy, high impact experiential learning experience to participants from June 6 through June 9.
Luminaries in the field of music entrepreneurship were the “thought leaders” for the 4-day retreat – Andrew Hitz and Lance LaDuke, co-owners of Boston Brass; Justin Kantor, founder of (le) poisson rouge; Jon Ostrow, publicity director of Cyber PR; and David Cutler, author of “The Savvy Musician” and director of music entrepreneurship at USC.
Teams of four to eight participants each were charged with conceiving, researching and developing an arts-based business that would be feasible and sustainable using skills learned from sessions and labs presented by experts in the fields of finances, research, product development and marketing.
A rigorous program of assignments kept participants working on their business models through the night to meet the last day’s Venture Challenge. Presentation judges Ken May (executive director, S.C. Arts Commission), Greg Hilton (director, CETi-USC’s Startup Resource Center) and Armen Shaomian (founder/CEO Armenize, Inc.) were presented the 10 venture proposals with five-minute pitches by the teams.
Venture projects were judged on the strengths of overall concept, business model, marketing strategy and presentation. The judges deemed the team presenting a project for a mixed-use development in Pittsburgh incorporating several music venues, bars and live/work spaces as the strongest venture proposal with potential to generate income and impact.
USC School of Music dean Tayloe Harding said, "To fully implement our strategy for preparing more and better-educated leaders in music for tomorrow, the USC School of Music and its Spark Leadership Laboratory invested in the unique music entrepreneurship summer workshop experience delivered this past weekend. To say that its achievement exceeded expectations would be an understatement. Over 50 participants worked with any number of faculty, thought leaders, judges, VIPS and others to produce an amazing array of ventures for powerful leverages of musical innovations to improve communities and at the same time employ musicians. These initiatives were envisioned for specific cities and communities all over America, reflecting not only the diversity the entrepreneurs themselves represented, but also the distinctive needs of a variety of neighborhoods throughout our nation. The whole weekend was inspiring for all involved."