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Entrepreneurship in Music and the Arts, Class Planning

I have completed my planning for my course that begins next week. The course catalog entry reads, “Frequently the failure of the most creative ideas lies with an inability to build a working model and “business plan.” In this course students will learn to build business plans, both linear and non-linear for projects and entities in the arts. Having a pre-existing project idea is not a pre-requisite for this course, as for students without project ideas, the instructor will provide theoretical ones.”

The recently completed course read, “Never has it been more critical for students in the arts to imagine new cultural landscapes, to develop fresh ideas to revitalize the impact of the arts on society. In this course students will explore and shape innovative ideas. They will learn how to develop, then take an abstract idea and mold it into a feasible form, ready for the next step: making it a reality.”

I planned these in this fashion because some students will continue from the first to the second course, while at the same time some new ones will enter the second one.

I plan to orient students to 2 different models of business plans: a traditional one and the one designed by Osterwalder and Pigneur. We will study these in detail and practice their use. I will have explained to the students that they will be working in groups during the duration of this class, and that at the beginning of the second class they will be asked to “sell” ideas to the class, and that after the “selling,” students will choose an idea/group to work with for the remainder of the course. I will limit group sizes to no more than 5. I believe the size will be determined in part by the idea itself. After the “selling” process, I will give the students a 10 minute break during which I will draw up papers that list the idea at the top and that offer a certain number of spots below. Students may or may not get their first choice — not a big deal in my opinion, as the course is about learning processes, not about developing a personal idea.

The 3rd class will consist of teams beginning their work together. I will surely post a blog about the 2nd class before elaborating on plans for the 3rd one.


  1. Michael Millar says:

    Looks great, Jim! Your students will be fortunate to have this experience.

  2. Jim- speaking as an independent jazz musician, in a rich arts market (Toronto), I must respectfully disagree with your assertion “Frequently the failure of the most creative ideas lies with an inability to build a working model and “business plan.”

    In my field, at least, the failure of creative music ideas may lie with poor or non-existent business planning. However, I have seen plenty of instances where a plan has been thought out in advance, but failed. There are many variables that are beyond the reach of, and can defeat planning: inability to achieve marketing traction; over-competition for public attention; sudden shifts in public taste; rejection by a small number of industry gatekeepers; the wild unpredictability of revenues. I could go on.

    Ultimately, in jazz anyway, planning may be a necessary condition for success, but it is not sufficient.

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