Last month, Andy and I interviewed Colin Currie for a podcast episode that will air in early 2023. He’s the most dynamic and sought-after percussion soloist and performer working today. Beyond playing concerti with orchestras and solo recitals around the world, he’s busy working in other ventures he created: a mixed chamber ensemble, a percussion quartet, and a record label. I know people who have careers in each of these fields, but for one person to build a portfolio career that encompasses all four, and from scratch, is rare. In my opinion, Colin is a serial entrepreneur in the genre of music.
Interestingly though, when I asked if he sees himself as an entrepreneur he said “no.” At first, his response took me by surprise, because I wondered how someone who earns a living and employs people in several arts organizations he created, couldn’t see himself as an entrepreneur. But as the dialogue continued, it became apparent that the artist management companies with which he works look after most of his back-end activities, from arranging performances, accounts receivable, travel, and so on. That would assuredly free up his time to allow him to focus mainly on the activities integral to being a musical artist: practicing, rehearsing, performing and recording. So from that vantage point, I can appreciate how he might not see himself as an entrepreneur.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that my posts are sometimes inspired by classroom discussions. This month’s post was prompted by a statement my wife Diane made last week when she was speaking in my Music Career Development and Entrepreneurship class about career development and future employment as an administrator at an academic institution.
She was telling the class that when she was a piano professor, she would encourage her students to “reverse engineer” their paths to achieve their professional goals. Essentially, they should start with the end in mind for a better understanding of what a successful path to attain a college teaching position might look like. One exercise Diane said was particularly effective was to have her students review past and present job postings to note the requirements for each, and cite any patterns and anomalies: e.g., Which experiences were preferred? Which hard and soft skills were they looking for? In recognizing this, the students could better chart a path that would help them take the requisite courses, pursue various teaching and performing activities, take on leadership roles, and so on.
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