I was musing on the word entrepreneur and what it means, or how it might manifest in the form of a musically creative person. By that I mean one committed to creativity and music by disposition, innate ability; —the need to… Many a doctor or lawyer possess musical ability but yielded to what some may call the pragmatism of a steady six figure occupation, and thus relegated music to avocation. The easier road taken perhaps?
In viewing the word entrepreneur via Thesaurus the word enterprising comes up: marked by imagination, initiative, and readiness to undertake new projects”; “an enterprising young man likely to go far” resonates.
That’s anybody who embarks upon the road of boldly going, and then exposing their art to the World for the praise, patronization and perhaps rejection. Isn’t being truly creative in business just another form of art or creative expression? Was Steve Jobs an Artist? In Joshua Ruthman’s New Yorker article he wrote Steve Jobs likened himself and his employees to artists; he deployed his mercurial personality in the ruthless way that artists sometimes do. He cared about his products the way that artists care about their art. Perhaps Seth Godin got it right in his seminal book Linchpin arguing, “Art is the ability to change people with your work, to see things as they are and then create stories, images, and interactions that change the marketplace.”
So what does this mean in the wake of the post-2008-recessionary-stagnant-recovery-times where so many jobs, those of highly skilled workers have been downsized, taken as efficiency, forever eliminated? A time when spending 10’s or a 100’s of thousands of dollars at an institution to pursue a career in music, could at best amount to working the customer service desk at a music technology company. The prospects of ever realizing home ownership: bleak. This could also be said of a Classics Literature major of course…
So what’s the prescription for musician as entrepreneur or that of enterprising individual that travels replete with musically creative proclivities? Stereotypically, the artistic temperament manifested by most musicians is not anything like the skill set manifest in a person interested in business or other similar careers. Then again, I will argue the enterprising musician of these times, needs the fire in the belly, the tenacity of purpose, the emboldened entrepreneurial spirit along with an appetite for the broad view of the World and business acumen. Of course, a healthy dose of pragmatism is warranted if not sitting on a trust fund. I have heard that making decisions as an entrepreneur and that of an artist emanate from the same creative right-brained place.
In her Musings of A Musical Educator Blog, Dr. Maggie Rizzi puts forward an evocative treatise “The End of the Romantic Era, the time of the Neo-Renaissance Human” where the interconnectedness of my music/technology/entrepreneurial vocation is cited as example. In summary she presents, “now here we are in the 21st century, carrying with us some paradigms from the Romantic era that are not particularly helpful to us, or reflective of the multiple types of intelligences and interests that people have, not to mention the skill set needed to find success in the 21st century work environment. It is time that we cultivate a Neo-Renaissance approach to life and work that honors the capacity of all people to be more than one thing.”
And, “if you are an artist, don’t allow yourself to accept limits. Listen to the many things that may call you, or be necessary for your higher level of survival in this world. Don’t assume that you can’t manage your money or understand the trends of the economy, or that these skills will somehow damage your ability to create art.”
For my part, I embody the blurred lines of a modern career at the intersection of art, music, technology, and business: my experience a living, evolving organism for the times in which we live. Then again, one might just say I have comfortably landed in the Generation Flux cohort.