On Teaching Next-Gen Startup Founders
When I conceptualized and developed a course on building and launching tech startups in the music industry at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, my goal was simple yet ambitious: I wanted to prepare the next generation of young entrepreneurs to enter the competitive startup landscape with a breadth of music industry knowledge, a fundamental understanding of strategic business research and planning skills, an entrepreneurial mindset, and founder insights gained from guest speakers, internships, and networking opportunities.
After spending several years advising, mentoring, and consulting founders of music tech and digital media startups, I felt that universities and colleges had a unique opportunity to prepare individuals early on with a robust class in music industry entrepreneurship and innovation. UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music agreed and hired me to develop and teach such a course course in 2016; a course that Billboard recognized among its list of “The 15 Best Music Business Schools In 2017.”
It is with this backdrop that I am made ever more proud by many of my former students who do exactly what I had hoped my class would inspire them to do: pursue a path towards music industry entrepreneurship.
That said, I’d like to shine a spotlight on one of my former students and his innovative startup.
David Hartley is a former student and the founder of SoundSmith, a marketplace for artists, labels and distributors to automate their influencer marketing on TikTok. They’ve recently been accepted to the Startmate business accelerator program.
David took my class in Winter 2018 and was a shining example of a model student. Not only was he engaged during lectures and guest speakers, he excelled in completing course assignments. He and his collaborators leveraged my officer hours to seek advice on their startup ideas and took full advantage of the ancillary opportunities that I offered students to land an internship at Repost by SoundCloud.
Students like David is what makes teaching music industry entrepreneurship enjoyable and stories like his is what makes it rewarding.
See David’s message to me below via LinkedIn (shared with his permission).
10 years ago I was on a trajectory to enter the C-suite of a company that was operating in an industry that I’ve long since lost interest in.
In 2012, I was abruptly laid off of my job after the company I worked for acquired another company and let go of employees in duplicate/similar roles.
In that moment I was devastated. I loved the work that I did and enjoyed my co-workers.
I used the opportunity of becoming unemployed to attend graduate school at CSUN Music Industry Administration to earn a Masters Degree in Music Industry Administration. Simultaneously, I bet on myself by investing $1,000 into developing my first tech startup. Yes, I racked up over $50k in student loan debt, but partially due to my education, I was able to get my company acquired and paid off all of my debt, including the student loans.
Since then, I’ve earned industry-wide recognition for my work and research, I became an educator at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music teaching a class on a topic that I’m deeply passionate about (music industry entrepreneurship), I’ve built and sold 3 tech startups in the music industry, and I’ve championed initiatives for and advocated on behalf of music creators’ rights.
There were definitely some setbacks, but I bounced back and charged forward into my purpose.
When I was derailed from my journey in 2012, just a few weeks shy of being unable to pay my rent or my car lease, I leaned into my passion and bet that my ambition was greater than failure.
Whatever you’re going through in your professional life right now, know that it is not your end. It may very well be the exit or pivot you need to a better future.
Here’s an interview that I did in September 2012 about my transition from being laid off to becoming a music tech founder.
DJs, You’re next! 😊
After 10+ years of building software to help recording artists, songwriters, composers, lyricists, background vocalists, session musicians, independent labels, and music publishers with their music copyrights and royalties; and on the back of helping thousands of the aforementioned administer thousands of copyrights while unlocking tens of millions of dollars in royalties, it’s time to turn my attention to another group of underserved music creators: DJs
There are over 13,000 DJs in the United States and over 56,000 DJs around the world.
There are more DJ/Producers collaborating with independent music creators and influencers than ever before, and DJ/Producers creating new expressions of original music and derivative works for which they often undervalue and underrepresent their own rights and entitlements (that’s if they’re even aware of their entitlements).
I entered the music industry in 2008, while a senior at UCLA, when I formed Renaissance Artist Management (RAM Artist) and began representing DJs, DJ/Producers, and DJ/Remixers. From local up-and-coming DJs to GRAMMY-nominated festival DJs, I’ve had the pleasure of advising, representing, educating, and collaborating with DJs of all walks of life.
Over the past few years, I’ve been privately advising a number of DJ/Producers on their business and careers. From helping to clear samples, to advising remix negotiations, to pitching mix sets to DJ playlists, to web3 experiences (metaverse and NFTs), to setting the music rights administration plan for collaborations on original songs I’ve been having fun guiding and advising a small group of DJ friends.
Now, I’m looking to my next side project: DJ Music Rights
If you’re a DJ/Producer or represent a DJ/Producer, sign up to be the first to know about my forthcoming side project at http://www.djmusicrights.com
I am extremely proud 😁 to announce the launch of a game-changing program that I’ve been championing and developing at The Mechanical Licensing Collective for over 2 years:
The MLC’s Distributor Unmatched Recordings Portal (DURP) is a first-of-its-kind portal that enables independent music distributors to, for the first time, view the recordings they’ve distributed to digital music services (e.g. Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, Pandora, Tidal) that may be accruing unclaimed digital audio mechanical royalties for artists and songwriters.
After 12+ years of representing and advising music creators, advocating for music creators, and empowering music creators with education and resources to protect their copyrights and unlock royalties, I am thrilled to offer independent music distributors a tool to help music creators claim millions of dollars in unclaimed royalties from over 2 million unmatched recordings at The MLC.
I would like to thank DURP beta users Believe, TuneCore, CD Baby, Symphonic Distribution, EMPIRE, Vydia, and Repost by SoundCloud for their support and early feedback.
Music distributors can learn more, register for our upcoming info webinar, and request access to DURP at http://www.durp.themlc.com.
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”– Marc Anthony
I’ve always found this quote to be intriguing and optimistic.
The notion that working in your passion should feel so fulfilling that it overshadows and numbs any pains or losses that you’ve endured from doing the work itself. Furthermore, that your passion is one in which you can make enough of a living to satisfy your basic needs and (hopefully) more—live comfortably.
It’s a fascinating idea, but it generally doesn’t become a reality for most of us; even those of us who absolutely love the work that we do.
I do think there is a form of this optimism that is true and obtainable. A world in which you can be completely fulfilled by your work while still appreciating the challenges that you face and overcome.
Challenge builds character and expands knowledge.
Challenge is a catalyst for problem-solving, a skill that has a positive cognitive effect on aging adults.
Challenge invites innovation, a realm in which we foster creativity.
And challenge can feel painful. Setbacks and failures can take a deep emotional, physical and/or financial toll.
At last, challenge can coexist when working in your passion and doing what you love (even when “living your best life!”)
Today marks 10 years since I have been able to work in my passion and do what I love full-time (previously, I had been moonlighting in my passion for 7 years). While my specific adventure within the land of music, creator rights, technology and innovation has changed over time, my focus has always been rooted in a passion for empowering music creators.
I am now 2 years into my current adventure at The Mechanical Licensing Collective as Head of Third-Party Partnerships and 7 years into my adventure at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music as a part-time music industry professor and I can say that doing what I love is work, but it is work that I appreciate.
June is BLACK MUSIC MONTH! I am thrilled to announce something I’ve been developing for months now:
The Mechanical Licensing Collective and Nashville Music Equality presents For The Culture: Empowering Black Music Creators to Achieve Beyond Reach
🗓 Tuesday, June 21st
⏰ 10am to 6pm
📍 The Mechanical Licensing Collective (Nashville)
Join us for this one-day summit celebrating the evolution of Black Music and its unique and ever-growing impact on the music industry. The event will feature panels designed specifically for Black music creators that both explore creative business strategies and examine the overall royalty landscape, networking opportunities for attendees and a host of live music performances.
10:00am – Check-In
10:30am-11:00am – Opening Discussion: “How Did We Get Here? A Coffee Conversation on the Evolution of Black Music” – The day will kick-off with a conversation to set the tone for the events ahead. Grab a cup of coffee and sit in as three music industry executives discuss the influence of African Americans on popular music. What’s in a genre? Looking to the evolution from Ragtime > Blues > Jazz > R&B > Rock & Roll > Hip-Hop; the commercialization of Black music and the exploitation of Black artists; and more.
• Dae Bogan (Moderator) – Head of Third-Party Partnerships, The Mechanical Licensing Collective and Billboard Digital Power Player
• Brennen Boose – Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications National Museum of African American Music
• Shannon Sanders – Executive Director of Creative, BMI Nashville and 3X GRAMMY Award-Winning Producer
11:15am-12:15pm – “Breaking Through the Noise: Creative Business Strategies for Black Music Creators”
• Shannon Sanders (Moderator) – Executive Director of Creative, BMI Nashville and 3X GRAMMY Award-Winning Producer
• Derek Minor, Grammy Award-winning artist and producer. Co-Founder of We Own Now as well as hip-hop record label Reflection Music Group (RMG)
• Mimi McCarley, Founder of Collab Music Network & Co-Founder of Nashville is Not Just Country Music and We Own Now
12:30pm-1:30pm – “Black Dollars: Unlocking U.S. Digital Music Royalties for Black Music Creators” – Be prepared to take notes and ask questions as this informative panel of music business experts dive into the fundamentals (copyright ownership and publishing), royalty streams (interactive, non-interactive, downloads), post-MMA era rights and entitlements, songwriter challenges, Digital Music Royalties Landscape, and more.
• Dae Bogan (Moderator) – Head of Third-Party Partnerships, The Mechanical Licensing Collective and Billboard Digital Power Player 2019
• Alandis Brassel – Entertainment Attorney, Manager, Assistant Professor of Music Business – University of Memphis
• Cheryl Potts – CEO, Cleerkut Royalty
• George Monger – CEO, Connect Music
1:30pm – 2:30pm – Networking Lunch sponsored by BMI Nashville
2:30pm-4:30pm – The Black Opry Experience – A conversation with the founder of Black Opry, artist conversations, and acoustic performances. Hosted by Gina Miller (SVP & General Manager, MNRK Music) and Kortney Toney (Marketing, Inclusion & Outreach Manager, Naxos of America)
4:30pm-6pm – Closing Reception sponsored by The MLC
Members of The MLC can learn more and reserve your spot at http://www.themlc.com/fortheculture
Wednesday, June 1 at 3 p.m. ET | 2 p.m. CT | Noon PT
This special webinar will feature a compelling discussion on the issues and careers of LGBT creators and professionals in the music industry, as well as an engaging Q&A session during which panelists will unpack and discuss how their identities have impacted their work and personal journeys. The webinar will be moderated by The MLC’s Head of Third-Party Partnerships Dae Bogan.
Learn more at http://www.themlc.com/pride
Streaming continues to grow strongly, as evidenced by the28% growth reported by the RIAA for H1 2021 in the US. Everything looks great for the build-up to the impeding Universal Music Group (UMG) IPO. But all is not well in the creator community, as many artists and songwriters continue to be unhappy with streaming income (seen most pertinently in theUK parliamentary DCMS inquiry). However, the origin of so much of their ills, even if they do not yet realise it, is the mechanics of streaming itself rather than any party (labels, publishers or streaming services) not passing on enough money. Could these entities transfer more to their creators? Yes, of course. But there is no increase that could transform the outlook for most of these creators without potentially breaking the entire streaming economy. The crucial, emerging dynamic is that most mid-tier creators are never going to…
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