Art transcends money. But artists still have bills to pay.

Keith Bezant Niblett

Keith Bezant Niblett

That’s the problem facing many musicians, who love their craft but still need to make a living wage. At Michigan State University, the Eli Broad College of Business and the College of Music are collaborating to craft a source of solutions in the form of an evening class.

Your Music Business (MUS 496) is a nine-session evening class “specifically designed to provide business skills for those contemplating entering music as a business,” according to a class description.

“Most music students end up being self-employed, often juggling up to three jobs in order to make a livable wage. This course is the only offering that gives them conscious competence of how to create a business plan that prepares them for their future,” said Keith Bezant Niblett, instructor for the Your Music Business course.

Class elements include:

  • The language of business and fundamentals of the music industry
  • Business plans, target audiences, and business research
  • Expenses, costs, and how cash flow works
  • Case studies and discussions
  • Social skills, presentations, and pitches

This evening class culminated with the “Golden Dozen” project, in which teams prepared a business plan for proposed music-based start-up businesses.

“The pitch that the Golden Dozen slides enable is to experience the inevitable moment when they as music professionals will have to convince an investor that their business plan is viable, capable of success, and a sound investment value proposition,” said Niblett.

Pitches from the Spring 2018 class included:

  • Orangemen Brass: A quintet that will target universities, summer festivals, and teaching programs by offering revenue-generating chamber music concerts.
  • Right Brain Records: Provides opportunities to aspiring artists through music distribution, promotion, and studio recording in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Students First Music Academy: World-class music instruction and education along with rehearsal and recital space for individuals, ensembles, bands, and chorales in Okemos, Michigan.
  • Missoula Community Music School: Based in Missoula, Montana, and offering a comprehensive and affordable selection of private music lessons, classes, programs, and space for the Missoula community.