New MA in Music Entrepreneurial Studies

As it becomes clear that students and society want more entrepreneurship and innovation, higher education obliges. Azusa Pacific University, keying on its location near Los Angeles, has announced a new Master of Arts in Music Entrepreneurial Studies. From APU

“Given the immense growth of independent music in all genres and the lack of innovation in traditional record labels, we see a huge opportunity for independent artists to compete directly with major label music acts,” said Henry Alonzo, MBA, director of the Music Entrepreneurial Studies Program and assistant professor in the School of Music. “By exploring independent study and work internships within the music industry and collaborating closely with experienced industry professionals, candidates learn to run their careers in music as a small business, which is invaluable in today’s market.”

An expanding music industry ensures higher employability and profitability rates for music entrepreneurs, and for aspiring music professionals, the Los Angeles area is an optimal location to gain industry experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the L.A. metropolitan area represents the second highest rate of employment for musicians and singers, as well as music directors and composers, and the number one rate of employment and profitability for sound engineers. APU’s close proximity to Los Angeles gains program candidates easy access to the central hub of entertainment innovation in the U.S.

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Is Small Biz the Future?

In some discussions with an esteemed entrepreneurship researcher, I wondered what we are missing as analysts, researchers, educators, citizens, economic beings in today’s US? After some reflection, we began to discuss whether the drive to find, support and exploit innovation (the Schumpterian type) we had overlooked/missed the importance of small business? Traditional, local, stable small business? Had our global, consumer, and technological marvels drawn us away the humble, democratic supporting small business operators? (Reminder: I am reading David Potter’s People of Plenty).

I had begun thinking about this during Spring 2017 when I taught an undergraduate course in Small Business. Beyond accounting, finance, marketing — this course included a focus on family business, franchising, legacy (generational time horizons) and some other small business specific issues — topics that innovators, startup weekend participants, hackers, and sharks —  pushing to disrupt the world —  don’t generally talk or think about. Much of it was refreshing and more substantive and tangible when compared to our lean wielding, customer interviewing founders.

The reality is, many of the students we teach in class and work with in our extra and co curricular programs — competitions, accelerators — are building small ventures.

We also see a trend towards students working with their hands — from 3D printing and electronics to sewing and graphic design. These great new opportunities, evidenced by makerspaces and labs of all sorts, dovetail well with my epiphany on the importance and role of small business.

The Christian Science Monitor has a really interesting piece on manual labor being a hot new job for middle class students. My own foray into mechanical typewriters and work with a variety of founders highlights the shortage (and now high cost) in some fields where manual labor is required. Schuyler Velasco offers a fascinating Economy story on manual labor and visits the North Bennet Street School in Boston

Miranda Harter, a 2016 NBSS graduate, worked in retail inventory before enrolling in the school’s jewelry program. She’d be tasked with cataloguing accessories in an online database, mind-numbing work that put what she was missing in her career literally at her fingertips. “I was looking at these beautiful pieces of jewelry come across my desk, and I thought, I want to be making these things,” she remembers.

Ms. Harter now works full-time for a local jeweler in Somerville, and the owner allows her to use the space to make and sell her original pieces. It’s already proven more stable than her old job, which she lost during the Great Recession. “I’m working solid regular hours, I have a weekend, a boss who appreciates me,” she says. “That’s not something I experienced a lot in the retail world. To me, it seems like an honest profession, and more recession-proof. People are always getting married.”

Ms. Fruitman at NBSS says 30 is the average age of the student body, which means an “awful lot” of it is made up of career transitioners like Harter. “They’ve done college or some college, it wasn’t for them, or maybe they’ve even been out there working and realized that whatever it is they’re doing just isn’t satisfying.”

Fruitman is also describing herself. Before becoming a furniture maker, she majored in theater at Emerson College and worked as a photo stylist until the work dried up.

“I was at the point where I really wanted to do something that was tangible,” she says. “I didn’t know you could do this. I went to college because that’s what everybody does. And that’s what I was expected to do.”

Ocejo heard similar stories while profiling barbers, butchers, and high-end cocktail bartenders in Manhattan.

Richard Ocejo, a sociologist and the author of the new “Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy,” is featured in the piece. I am definitely going to download a sample on my Kindle app.

Regional Policy Makers in Europe Call for More Entrepreneurship

As with their colleagues across the globe, European Union leaders are keenly interested in entrepreneurial ecosystems and see the regional level as a good approach.

A recent release from the European Committee of the Regions:

With its new start-up and scale-up initiative the European Commission (EC) wants to give Europe’s innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to grow and become successful worldwide, paying attention to the need for regionally interconnected EU-wide clusters and ecosystems.

” We have to work together and be even more ambitious and proactive if we want to build strong entrepreneurial ecosystems in our cities and regions. If companies find the right framework locally they can be successful globally. That’s why we need to create the right circumstances to allow the next generation of success stories to grow in Europe, stimulating growth and development across the entire Union “, said rapporteur Tadeusz Truskolaski (PL/EA), Mayor of Białystok.

Later, they offer a laundry list of policies:

Suggests to create new opportunities through:

  • Creating a start-up visa and a catalogue of conditions enabling a safe use of qualified intellectual and financial capital from third countries
  • Additional funding for start-ups to develop and protect intellectual property rights
  • Expanding the Enterprise Europe Network’s (EEN) range of services including advice on scaling up and cooperating more with local business incubators, science and technology parks
  • Creating a separate instrument dedicated to networking projects in less-developed regions
  • Encouraging new public procurement procedures exploiting the potential of start-ups and scale-ups

Welcomes the EC’s suggestions to facilitate access to finance through:

  • Establishing a European venture capital fund of funds
  • Creating innovation brokers linking buyers interested in innovative public procurement with innovative companies and helping them to access venture capital
  • Increasing the budget for COSME, the EU’s main instrument supporting the competitiveness of SMEs
  • Looking into the opportunities of and a regulatory framework for crowdfunding platforms

The piece goes on to mention three regions in Europe that have been recognized for their work building their entrepreneurial ecosystems.

To support regional entrepreneurship the CoR has created the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award that yearly identifies and rewards three EU regions which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. For this edition Central Macedonia, Ile de France and the Northern and Western Region of Ireland convinced the EER jury with their credible, forward-thinking and promising plan for the year 2018.

Entrepreneurship policy is the holy grail that all are searching for. The challenge, in my humble opinion, is that policy generally follows entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Not the other way around.

Startup Gospel and Ecosystems in Alaska

Ever since reading Jack London, I’ve wanted to go to Alaska. Looks like July is the time toklondike_puppy go as its Alaska Startup week and there are events throughout the state, from lean startup workshops to pitch competitions. 2017 is the Year of Innovation in Alaska. From Naomi Klauda at the Alaska Journal of Commerce:

The seasonal cycle featured the Innovation Summit in Juneau Feb. 15-16, the online Alaska Business Model Competition Feb. 4, the Alaska Business Plan Competition in April, the techy Interior HackaThon in Fairbanks and the fall Arctic Innovation Competition.

“You can enter at any point, but it starts with seeding the idea — there’s a total of six that we make a point of highlighting that illustrates a cycle,” Shepherd said.

Startup week or Startup Weekend offers immersion into ideation.

“Within one year you could go from idea to launch with $60,000 in investments,” Shepherd said. “To launch right here in Alaska means you no longer have to go anywhere else from idea to launch.”

It is quite amazing, but not surprising, to see that people (entrepreneurs, policy makers, educators, etc) are setting about building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Alaska. There is likely no place in the US that retains so much of Turner’s Frontier as Alaska – but I’ll have to go next July to find out. For more on Turner’s frontier in the entrepreneurial age, check out my recent paper — Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal or SSRN version.