A group of campus entrepreneurs that we don’t talk about very frequently are those whose product or services comes from the sector we traditionally call arts and culture. Much of my work with Richard Florida analyzes the intersection of artistic talent/institutions and sustainable economic growth.
Campuses have long been a place where artistic endeavors flourish and often lead the rest of society and the economy. From bands and fashion to food and computer design, campuses are a hotbed of innovation and activity.
I started thinking about this the other day while spending time with my brother in law, Zach. When he was at the University of Wisconsin Madison he founded a record label named Halftooth Records. He spent four years on the business and eventually sold his shares and moved to other pursuits. Here is an old school article from The Badger Herald on Zach, his partner, and their label.
Yet since the 2001 inception of the rising star label Halftooth Records, founding producers David Schrager and Zach Gordon have been attacking them all. From their first encounter in Madison, the record company was an inevitable endeavor. Gordon brought an enthusiasm for a broad range of musical genres and a concern with the current trajectory of the specific hip-hop culture. Schrager was industry-savvy from interning with the likes of Cornerstone Productions and working as a college representative with The Fader magazine.
The culmination of their abilities as producers is first demonstrated in the showcase album You Don’t Know the Half.
Do artists on campus traditionally view their craft as a business? Do they write business plans and marketing plans or raise capital?