Open for Business
When Entrepreneurship and Artistry Conflict

When Entrepreneurship and Artistry Conflict

Open for Business

First, I need to thank Alex Shapiro for her response to my first post in this series. It was my hope to spark discussion around this topic, and if the comment section of her post is any indication, that seems to have happened. I debated to what extent I should respond directly to Shapiro, but since I am still laying out my argument, I will touch on only a couple of points directly while covering others more broadly. I really enjoy a good debate, so I will respond to comments as much as I am able.

Following my previous post, “You’re an Artist, Not an Entrepreneur,” I had a number of discussions online and in person about the role of entrepreneurship in new music. Among the different points brought to my attention, two kept cropping up over and over again.

The first was that, despite what I or others might think about the increased focus on entrepreneurship, it’s become a necessity. I talked with Peter Witte, dean of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance (my alma mater), about this, and he made some important points. “We surveyed our alums, all of them,” he explained.  “Over and again, across the decades, was a refrain: I graduated not knowing how to start my career…. Teaching students, even if just a two [credit hour] elective, about how to start, that seems almost an ethical issue for me.”

I agree. To reiterate, I don’t think that teaching some basic entrepreneurial skills is by itself a bad thing. The issue I see is that some discuss entrepreneurship as though it is the cure-all for the difficulties musicians face financially. Perhaps even more troubling, though, is that in promoting certain business practices there doesn’t seem to be a discussion about how they may conflict with artistic pursuits.

The second point concerns the definition of the word entrepreneur in and of itself. I happily concede that the word at one time specifically meant a music promoter, but most all contemporary definitions directly reference business, and that is the context in which I will be using the word.[1]

I am aware, of course, that meanings change; there are many examples of the word entrepreneur being used in new contexts today, such as “social entrepreneur.” However, if we are to discuss being an “arts entrepreneur” as a way to create your own job or to advance your career, we are using the word in a business-oriented context. Moreover, that is the context that universities seem to be using as they implement entrepreneurial education. A quick survey of institutions[2] shows that many partner with the business department, use a more specific arts management approach, or include concepts in course descriptions such as market analysis, branding, networking, etc.

What I hope to do in this essay is address some of these business practices and elucidate potential conflicts with the arts. At the risk of repeating myself (something I do a fair bit in my performing), I am not saying that any of the following practices are inherently wrong or completely incompatible with the arts. Instead, I want to get us thinking about some of the pitfalls of an entrepreneurial mindset before we rush headlong down that path.


The concept of branding is ubiquitous. In virtually every organization or project that I have been a part of, someone has brought up the topic of branding. Perhaps that is because, at its core, branding can be an extremely effective tool to communicate quickly and effectively who you are as an artist to those who may not know much about you.

For a quick primer on the process of branding, Entrepreneur magazine has a succinct article, “The Basics of Branding.” As they describe it, the process of branding involves “self-discovery,” something that is a big part of growing as an artist. Moreover, there is nothing particularly wrong with the questions one might need to ask while developing a brand strategy. Here are examples from the article that I have translated a bit for artists:

  1. What is your goal/are core values as an artist?
  2. What is it that you have to offer an audience?
  3. How is it that colleagues and audiences perceive you?
  4. What qualities do you want them to associate with you as an artist?

Not bad at all. In fact, we should all have some sort of artistic vision that we are striving toward. It’s in the implementation that things start to get a bit trickier.

For a brand to be effective, it must be consistent and integrated into every aspect of your “business.” There are good aspects to this, such as having visual consistency on everything the public sees. Other communication becomes more difficult. The voice of your brand might be well suited to your website, but it would also need to be considered in tweets and pictures posted to Instagram.

Moreover, branding applies to products, or in our case, artistic output. My brand might be as a minimalist pianist, but what happens when I start venturing outside those boundaries a bit? That would necessarily diminish my brand value. Yes, I can choose to update or refresh my brand, but I’m not sure I want to do that every time I pull out something new. Art doesn’t always want to fit nicely into a brand message.

There is one other aspect of branding that I find to be a bit frightening, and that is how branding connects with others. Again, to quote the article, “The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment.” Perceived quality doesn’t sound so bad, but in branding it has nothing to do with actual quality. Effective branding means that even if my artistic output is not better than most of what’s out there, that’s O.K. because you perceive the “R. Andrew Lee” brand as better. Worse is the emotional attachment. I want people to experience an emotional connection to my art, not my brand.

Again, not all branding is evil, and the larger the artistic organization the more important branding becomes. But where branding is designed to draw the attention of a wide audience, art is more intimate. Branding distills all aspects of an organization into a few simple ideas; art is more complex. By all means, use the strategies of branding to get your name out there, but realize that the best practices of branding may not always be suitable for what you want to convey as an artist.

Social Media

I love social media. I’ve been on Facebook since the days when you needed a university email address to sign up, and I’ve been hooked on Twitter ever since my wife convinced me to join. Social media has also been good for my career. I’ve also gotten several gigs (including my NYC premiere) through Twitter, and I even found a co-producer for an album. By most accounts, I’m doing this quite well.

Likewise, social media is one particular area of 21st-century entrepreneurship that seemingly holds great promise. The ease of building your network and promoting yourself (again, all at virtually no cost[3]), means considerably more opportunities to further your career. And success is certainly possible, I can’t deny that, but business practices have perverted our concept of how that should happen.

What is the motivation for a business to become active in social media? To put the question another way, how does a business use a social medium to increase sales? First, there needs to be some enticement for a potential consumer to “follow” or “like,” which may be in the form of discounts/special offers, pithy posts, interesting links, or eye-catching pictures, consistent with brand messaging of course. Typically, a business isn’t interested in connecting with customers in any meaningful way so much as increasing its reach. That in turn raises brand awareness. Yes, it’s valuable to have customers who know about new offerings, and particularly nice to have followers promote those to their network, but at least as important is keeping the business in the forefront of the customer’s mind. That way, when it comes time to make a purchasing decision, the odds increase that they will turn to you.

Sort of dark when you spell it out that way, isn’t it? Let’s put it in an artistic context. Increase followers through incentives/clever posts, post often and consistently within your artistic brand, increase awareness of your work and get people excited to promote what you do, and then enjoy the CD sales when your new album drops.

I’m not going to say that this doesn’t always work; any organization worth its salt has someone overseeing social media. The problem is that I’m not sure that’s the best way for an artist to approach social media.

People connect to other people. Actually, people desperately need to connect with other people. That is how you should use social media. Start following a bunch of people on Twitter[4] and then take an interest in them. Start conversations. Listen to other people’s music. Post about things that are meaningful. Post about trivial and ridiculous things. Just try to be human (and meet these people in real life when the opportunity presents itself). When people connect with you as a human being they become far more likely to take an interest in you as an artist. There are enough people trying to build a network of important people to promote themselves; don’t be that person.


You don’t want customers. You just don’t. A customer is someone who is willing to purchase something because it has an equal or greater perceived value than the price. That’s a battle being lost by the music industry on all fronts. We can and should do what we can to increase the perceived monetary value of what we do, but that is a difficult fight, especially for someone struggling to build a career.

Instead of customers, you should have supporters. Where a customer makes a value calculation for a product before a purchase, a supporter willingly parts with money to help sustain your work. Obviously this is a big part of running nonprofit organizations, which rely on donors to continue operating, but it can be extended to any transaction.

Instead of selling tickets to a performance, tell people about how selling tickets sustains your ability to keep performing in the first place. Instead of hawking CDs, explain how sales determine whether you can make any albums in the future, which in turn helps make your music available around the world. Don’t sell a product; ask for support.

Plus, the supporter/artist model is far more significant than a producer/consumer model. A consumer typically has no interest in whether a business thrives or collapses; they simply want value for their money.[5] A customer is also someone to be catered to, someone whose needs must bet met by your products/services. A supporter, however, has a vested interest in seeing future success. They are not only loyal but will often work to help you attain success. They also are less concerned with having their needs met and more concerned that you are fulfilling your artistic vision. We should be creating something of value for those who help pay the rent, but treating them like customers is bad for everyone involved.

Paying the Rent

At the end of the day, though, for all this discussion, money is still a necessity. And for all your ability to hustle, there will still be opportunities to play/compose music that isn’t artistically satisfying but that will satisfy creditors. And here is the fundamental disagreement between Alex Shapiro and me. As she writes, “But seriously: no authentic, talented artist—you included, Andrew—is ever going to forget the importance of the quality of the art that they create just because they wish to earn a living from it.” I disagree.

I think the pressures to survive monetarily can be overwhelming and unrelenting. I think that artistic integrity and a paycheck are all too often at odds with one another. I think that there are many, many people who have seriously contemplated walking away from the arts entirely because it was too financially difficult, myself included.

Yes, we have an obligation to give the next generation of artists all the tools we can to help them build their careers, but we also have an obligation to make sure those tools don’t stunt their artistic development. An amazing entrepreneur will earn a living. The same cannot be said of amazing artists, and that’s what scares me.


1. Even within a business context there is disagreement about the word. An article from The Economist, “What exactly is an entrepreneur?”, summarizes the problem. The definition Aaron Gervais and I seem to be using aligns with Joseph Schumpeter’s view that true entrepreneurs are innovators. The more common definition being anyone who is self-employed or runs a small business.

2. I based my survey on a market analysis prepared for Clarion University. I also looked at a few other institutions not listed in this document.

3. The issue of cost was one point of contention between Shapiro and me. I know that to be active on social media requires equipment and an internet connection, all of which cost money. That said, these are not costs I had to incur specifically because of social media involvement. I already had the phone and connection, as do the majority of Americans. So the cost exists, but they are general costs most people have already incurred. Digging further a bit, concerning her points on recording costs. 1) Costs of lessons and instruments are costs of being an artist, not specifically of producing a CD. 2) The cost to produce recorded music can be almost zero. A cheap recording will still sound that way, but most people don’t realize how expensive it can be to produce an album. We need to do a better job of educating the public on that. 3) Finally, I had argued that distribution costs were virtually zero. The cost to produce a recording notwithstanding, once I have a digital file I can get that to anywhere in the world (that has an internet connection) through any number of free services. (And for all the talk about Spotify, it seems that YouTube is where teenagers go the most to listen to music.)

4. One mistake I see with social media is trying to be active everywhere and at all times. For an individual or new organization, it makes much more sense to discover what particular service is the best fit. I adapted quickly to the particular etiquette of Twitter, but there are a number of services that still seem foreign to me. Each service has a different etiquette and connects users in different ways, so just like in your art, don’t try to be all things to all people.

5. A common exception would be when a consumer wants to support a local business over a large company. They are willing to pay higher prices for the value they see a local business adding to the community. In that case, I’d argue that they are no longer consumers but instead supporters.

NewMusicBox provides a space for those engaged with new music to communicate their experiences and ideas in their own words. Articles and commentary posted here reflect the viewpoints of their individual authors; their appearance on NewMusicBox does not imply endorsement by New Music USA.

28 thoughts on “When Entrepreneurship and Artistry Conflict

  1. Mark Samples

    Another well-written and thought-provoking post.

    In this post, you’ve succinctly and accurately outlined some of the most important components in an artists relationship to the public: brand, social media, community. Your understanding of branding is spot on, in that it’s more about understanding who you are as an artist rather than choosing fonts and colors and making those consistent across platforms (although that’s a necessary step at a later time).

    May I propose, though, that the problem of a brand hemming in an artist is also avoidable. There are plenty of musicians who develop what I call the “artist brand.” These are artists who build reinvention into the core of who they are as artists: think about the first 20 years of Stravinsky’s career or, in the rock world, the band Radiohead, or Sufjan Stevens. These artists built innovation into their core commercial identities (their brands) and thus have communicated to their audience that they should expect the unexpected. Just one thought for this excellent post. Also, would you share your Twitter handle with us so we can follow your work? I’ll be looking forward with anticipation for the final installments of this series.

    1. Andy Lee


      Thanks so much. I thought a lot in the branding section about what you just described. After all, one could argue it was a problem instead of a problem with the output. With those innovative ‘brands,’ though, I would argue they likewise get sort of pigeonholed. If innovation is a big part of what you do as an artist, what happens when you find somewhere you want to stay for a while? What if the next composition or album sounds a bit too much like the last one?

      Also, my twitter handle is @andyleedma. Happy to make the connection.

  2. Paul H. Muller

    I think it should be stated that entrepreneurial activity is necessary whether you intend to monetize your art or not. Just to be heard nowadays requires an organized effort on the part of the artist – and I think that has probably been the case in one form or another throughout the ages. The Internet and social media have just made those efforts more visible. Sweet Alex Shapiro knows how to do this extremely well – her posts and blogs are more about cats, local wildlife and traveling than about music per se, and we all enjoy it greatly. Art will always require an advocate – in the 21st century we now have the tools for the artist to do this in a comparatively painless fashion.

    1. Andy Lee

      I think you are correct in that there has always been some effort to get one’s music known, but I think the relatively new trend is to adopt, in some cases wholesale, business practices in that effort.

  3. Phil Fried

    The question for music returns to style and content. Some styles are more popular today than others. Style and content can’t be dictated by popularity alone. On the other hand there are plenty of composers around to fill any need. There is no point in trying to be a square peg in a round hole when round is the currency. Yet a problem remains. The artistic urge to create something new and ground breaking simply cannot be confined to quick popularity.

    1. Phil Fried

      The problem for me with a composers advertising is this; if we live in a time where the composer is more important then their music the it follows that their personal image trumps their sound. Perhaps this is why so many composers claim musical territory they have never visited and risks they have never taken.

  4. Jorge Birrueta

    I think the mayor problem is to view the ART/Enterpreneurship problem ONLY in the market way of doing business, so strong in the USA. There are other ways to have a living where first you make a high quality work of art, independent from who will buy it, and then sell it. Community based, self-work, cooperative business, which have a better artist share, than the offer/demand model, which benefits the distribuitor, are some examples.

    1. Andy Lee

      The business of America is business, right? There are many factors that influence this particular thinking in the arts. I don’t have a real concept of what arts funding is like in Europe, though I’ve seen more than a few comments about the dearth of public funding in the states. We have this market-based mentality that is difficult to see beyond. Plus, you have people that have been enormously successful in promoting their music in this context. Others see that success and think that must be the proper model.

  5. Martin

    Without taking any side ( i.e. whether the current trend toward entrepreneurship is good or bad) perhaps this amiable observation will help focus the discussion:
    “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”

  6. Stephen Soderberg

    You’ve touched a real sore spot that is not going to heal by benign neglect or smiley face bandages. I would encourage you not to back off too far or be pleasantly cowed by those not in the position most artists find themselves. Calls to support the status quo are often disguised as the voice of reason. But status quo is no friend of art.
    I would also remind everyone that the word “entrepreneur” gives a clue that seems to be overlooked in all this: “entre”=between. It could be that — notably in the U.S., but it may be spreading — the arts support culture is so bloated and ineffective that now the individual artist is getting sucked into becoming his or her own arts administrator. There is an appeal to being your own boss, doing all the odd-job work it takes for that “between”to connect your creative vision and the consumer. But those available to “teach” you how to do this – best practices, audience building, branding, due diligence on the market, measurement (I love that one), all the buzz – are those most invested in models that have arguably had (and continue to have) a major role in creating problems in the non-profit arts industries. Exhibit A can be seen in a map proudly displayed by the Association of Arts Administration Educators on their web site ( Makes you want to shout U S A ! We’re Number One ! (What’s wrong with Europe, anyway? They need to Get On Board (another favorite of mine)).
    One of many questions this should raise for the individual artist hearing the siren song of entrepreneurship is: do you really want to take lessons from an industry with the kind of track record professional arts administrators have had lately? And that leads to the question: just where are the jobs for all these arts admin grads?? (I haven’t seen stats on this yet, but my guess is there isn’t only a glut of performers on the market now.) And so the schools, already set up with an arts admin faculty with its own existence at stake but with nowhere left to send its own graduates has to find a new source for its own survival. Guess who that is?
    It’s all very reasonable: Just like the famous island whose inhabitants made a living by taking in each others’ laundry.
    — Stephen Soderberg

    1. Andy Lee

      Thanks for your thoughts, Stephen. If nothing else, I hadn’t realized there were so many arts administration programs in the country. I think (hope) you’ll find my next essay a bit more on the nose. I’ll be addressing some ways in which some of these entrepreneurial tools actually help perpetuate the very problems they purport to solve.

  7. Alex Shapiro

    Thanks for your kind opening remarks, Andrew. It’s enjoyable and important to have these discussions; one of the things I appreciate about our art music community is how supportive we are of each other, because we’re all attempting to bring art and magic into this world, regardless of differing perspectives as to how to accomplish that.

    So I’m chiming in once again, with the obnoxiously cheery, soothing voice of someone who spends way too much time talking to foxes and sea anemones (both of which make lousy conversationalists), to encouragingly suggest that in some cases, perhaps you’re making arguments where there do not need to be any.

    “Branding applies to products, or in our case, artistic output. My brand might be as a minimalist pianist, but what happens when I start venturing outside those boundaries a bit? That would necessarily diminish my brand value.”

    It only diminishes it if you think you have to brand your artistic output— the music itself— rather than brand yourself as the artistic out-putter. Your artistic output is… YOU. You, the human being and all the things that interest you and make you the compelling person you are. When people connect with our humanness, that often leads them to more easily connect with our music.

    Which is exactly what you write so accurately a little further down:

    “People connect to other people. Actually, people desperately need to connect with other people. That is how you should use social media. Start following a bunch of people on Twitter[4] and then take an interest in them. Start conversations. Listen to other people’s music. Post about things that are meaningful. Post about trivial and ridiculous things. Just try to be human (and meet these people in real life when the opportunity presents itself). When people connect with you as a human being they become far more likely to take an interest in you as an artist. There are enough people trying to build a network of important people to promote themselves; don’t be that person.”

    You and your heart, which are unique, are what you’re branding and wishing to share. The vessel that carries these precious things— your essence— happens to be your music-making.

    “There is one other aspect of branding that I find to be a bit frightening, and that is how branding connects with others. Again, to quote the article, “The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment.” …I want people to experience an emotional connection to my art, not my brand.”

    Of course you do. Me too! Try to think more holistically: they are one and the same. If we’re doing it right, and authentically, we ARE creating an “emotional attachment” between ourselves as people (yup: the brand), the music we create, and our listeners. That’s usually one of the key reasons we compose: to communicate and to share emotion.

    I’m a pan-genre composer whose music is tough to plop into one or two categories, and there’s no way I could “brand” my artistic output. Rather, as Paul Muller touched on in his comment above, I share something else that’s really important to me that I hope others will enjoy: my wildlife photography. My images pepper my website, blog, Facebook entries and yes, even my large ensemble score covers. Because geez, nothing says “play this music!” like a gross close-up photo of a harbor seal eating a Giant Pacific Octopus that’s wrapped its pink suckered tentacles tightly around the mammal’s head. So there you have it, that’s my “brand,” and it has nothing to do with my music, but everything to do with my heart. Which of course, has everything to do with my music. Each one of us has things in our lives, in addition to music, that are compelling to us, and that we can use to anchor the public’s sense of our lives and from where our music erupts.

    So, no need to fret that branding shackles an artist; on the contrary, I believe that it helps us wrap our own tentacles around our audiences. The difference is that we don’t want to consume them, but have them consume us and the music we offer!

    1. Andy Lee

      I’m reminded of a quote from Bill Cosby in his stand-up film Himself: “I said to a guy, I said, ‘Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful?’, and he said, ‘Well, it intensifies your personality.’ I said, ‘Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?'”

      Sorry, I couldn’t help it. :) I’m most certainly not throwing that word at you but more at your argument.

      I think many of us could all think of composers/performers whose art we adore but that we would prefer to avoid in a social context. For some people, the “brand” might be the artist as a whole (good and bad), but for others it’s much more about the art. Honestly, I don’t know where I would fall on that spectrum.

      I do think it’s very important to get to know people on a human level, especially since our community is so small. I’m mostly writing against the new kid on the block who thinks that following everyone or constantly promoting his music or generally trying to act like the McDonald’s twitter account. Branding, in a business context, is about maximizing connections monetarily, and I want people to be aware of that side of things.

  8. Kyle Gann

    “Assuming a man lives by himself and is willing to live as simply as Thoreau, he might write music that no one would play prettily, listen to, or buy. But if he has a nice wife, and some nice children, how can he let the children starve on his dissonances? So he has to weaken (and if he is a man he should weaken for his children), but his music more than weakens–it goes ‘ta-ta’ for money! Bad for him, bad for music.” – Charles Ives

    At the end I almost thought you’d quote it.

  9. Elaine Fine

    We have a generational divide that really can’t be bridged. There are some of us who have reached “a certain age” where we cannot abide having what we do be “branded,” and there are some of us (composers in their 50s and 60s) who prefer to put quality above marketability. Some of us can’t even stomach the idea of calling ourselves “artists,” a term only relatively recently applied to all kinds of things that people do aside from drawing, painting, and sculpting. Writing music, like any means of expression, is personal. It is personal expression that is only complete when it is shared, either in the privacy of a musician’s room, or in a hall full of people. Sometimes it is a voice in the wilderness, and sometimes it is a message in a bottle. (And often, like that last sentence, what it is is often expressed by using cliches.)

    A piece of music’s potential “use” is often unknown to the person doing the writing. It can be used to ease a heavy heart, intensify the relationship someone has with his or her instrument, interpret poetry, form and enhance friendships, become a vehicle for love, or entertain people on all sorts of levels. It can answer questions that the composer never thought of, or it can be dismissed as background noise.

    When push comes to shove (to use an odd but sometimes pertinent expression), composers who take the time, energy, and money to promote themselves get their music played and heard. There are a whole lot of people who really respond to “branding” because it is the way they pretty much deal with everything else in their lives, from the clothes they wear to the food they eat.

    I prefer to make my food from ingredients found in nature, and, come to think of it, I prefer to wear clothes that I make myself. Instead of spending my time “hawking my wares,” I prefer to spend time trying to make the music that I write adhere to values I admire in music written by other composers. I feel that it keeps my writing honest.

    Since 2006 I have chosen to make the new music I write available (for free) to anyone who wants to play it and, and, at the same time, I gladly accept money from people who commission music. That’s the extent of my entrepreneurial activities. It works for me.

    Then again, I’m a child of a different time.

    1. Stephen Soderberg

      Thank you! May I add a sentence:
      “This is what I call my song, because it is as important for me to sing it as it is to draw breath.”
      –– Orpingalik, Netsilik Eskimo (quoted in Technicians of the Sacred)

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  11. Linda Essig

    I don’t deny that art and business can be strange bedfellows, sometimes in direct conflict with one another. Where I believe we disagree is indeed in definition, specifically around the end goals of arts entrepreneurship. You wrote, “However, if we are to discuss being an “arts entrepreneur” as a way to create your own job or to advance your career, we are using the word in a business-oriented context.” You distinguish an “entrepreneur” (arts or otherwise) from a “social entrepreneur.” But, an “arts entrepreneur” is also distinct from a small business entrepreneur, as is, for example, a “policy entrepreneur” (see the work of John Kingdon). An “arts entrepreneur” upends the traditional profit motive of the small business entrepreneur to undertake entrepreneurial action that results in greater creative opportunity. For the arts entrepreneur, entering into a venture (“entre” means to enter or go into, not “between”) leads in the end to more creative work. That may – and usually does – mean that revenue and even profit are generated, but not toward a primary goal of generating wealth. Instead, the arts entrepreneur exploits good business practices to generate art.

    You may be interested in learning more about the way arts entrepreneurship is being taught here at the graduate level, based on a philosophy that always keeps art at the center (and that actively translates “consumer” to “audience.” You can follow our class blog here:

      1. Linda Essig

        In the first English translation of JB Say’s* “Treatise on Political Economy,”the word “entrepreneur” was translated as “ad-venturer,” the “ad-” signifying going toward or in the direction of. This translation goes back about 300 years and has been widely used in this way since; I didn’t make it up. (*Although there is some disagreement, many attribute the term entrepreneur to Say.)

      2. Stephen Soderberg

        The Online Etymology Dictionary summarizes what can be found in most accepted (and objective) sources:
        Now your “ad-” add is even more of a stretch than when you wrote ‘“entre” means to enter or go into, not “between”’. And do you understand at all what you are implying to the artist when you proudly state your profession actively translates “consumer” to “audience”?

        I believe you when you say that you personally didn’t make this stuff up. It’s obviously a group effort: what this is really about is the need to define expertise and assert authority by building a convincing “technical” vocabulary for a still infant offshoot of the academic mother field of “business administration studies.”

        I can’t read the intentions of individuals, but IMO supporting the arts is NOT the bottom line for the expanding NFP arts admin community as a whole — the arts are merely fertile ground for expansion. The basis for my belief can be seen in the map I linked to in my previous comment. How is it possible that so many individuals and institutions in the arts are struggling for survival at the same time that “arts administration” programs are thriving in the U.S. out of all proportion? Forget the terminology quibbles — THAT’s my real question.

        I applaud Andy Lee for digging into this problem, but so far I think he’s missing the elephant in the room.

        1. Stephen Soderberg

          Sorry, the Etymology Dictionary quote got left off. Here it is:

          entrepreneur (n.) 1828, “manager or promoter of a theatrical production,” reborrowing of French entrepreneur “one who undertakes or manages,” agent noun from Old French entreprendre “undertake” (see enterprise [from entre- “between” + prendre “to take”] ). The word first crossed the Channel late 15c. but did not stay. Meaning “business manager” is from 1852.

  12. John Porter

    There’s nothing wrong with the term “customer.” It’s all in how you define it. For many, customer is connotes a soulless transaction. Oddly enough, in the business world, there is a quite a bit going on in terms of making the customer experience a rich one.

    One might do better to think of the traveling salesman, who had to have a relationship with his or her (unlikely) “customer.” If a composer were lucky enough, they might sell enough scores and parts or recordings to lots of customers who will love his or her music.


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