Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

2008 SEA Conference

In Current Events on January 31, 2008 at 3:34 am

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The Self Employment in the Arts Conference this year will be held on Feb 29th – March 1st at the Hilton Hotel in Lisle, IL. While SEA offers some one day regional conferences around the United States, this one, which is always held in Illinois, is by far the largest.

SEA’s mission is to provide educational resources to aspiring artists to gain the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain a career as an independent artist.

Focused on the business of art, SEA was created with the idea that more artists will succeed if they have business skills, knowledge, resources, and contacts. All SEA conferences are artist-led. This year I will be part of SEA as a presenter.

SEA is for college students, serious high school students, artists, and educators. Mark your calendars and sign up to attend. Scholarships are still available.

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Music Biz Insights

In Interesting Articles, WEBSITES & BLOGS on January 30, 2008 at 12:21 am

Peter Spellman is a man of many talents. As a teacher he is the director of career development at Berklee College of Music, Boston. As a seasoned entrepreneur, he runs and owns Music Business Solutions. As an author, Peter has published a number of music business development guides including The Musician’s Internet: Online Strategies for Success in the Music Industry (2002, Berklee Press) and The Self-Promoting Musician: Strategies for Independent Music Success (2000, Berklee Press). All of his published work can be found by clicking here.

Peter also publishes a free newsletter called Music Biz Insights. Here is an excerpt from his last one. If you would like to sign up for it go to www.mbsolutions.com.

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THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT

Nokia, whose ambitions seem to include a strong presence on the net and all new media, as well as via mobile, has surveyed 9000 trend-setters globally for a study designed to predict the future of music and entertainment. Based on the study, Nokia is predicting that by 2012, 25% of all entertainment will be “Circular” – both created and consumed within peer communities.

I think this is key as we move forward in the current phase of “creative destruction.” Get to know your fans, customers and clients like you never have before. They are your chief asset and the better you know them, the better you can communicate with them, build loyalty and enlist them in lending their support to you and your music projects. Involve them, empower them, mobilize them, let them co-create with you. None of us knows what all of us know. Build a community, a fan club, a subscription service and learn how to pool the wisdom
of your following.

Check out Nokia’s video presentation in several ongoing parts on this theme and others at www.Hypebot.com

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A VEGETABLE ORCHESTRA?

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra is coming to Britain.The ensemble, which performs on instruments made of fresh vegetables, will play at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

The 11-strong group carve their produce before every show, using celeriac bongos, carrot recorders and the multi-vegetable ‘cucumberphone’. They play a range of music from contemporary to house, jazz to classical, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Performances promise to “appeal to all the senses”, and the audience is usually offered fresh vegetable soup made from the instruments after shows.

But hungry fans in Huddersfield will be disappointed – health and safety regulations mean soup is banned – even without the parts the orchestra have blown on. Nicklaus Gansterer, co-founder of the orchestra, explained how it all began: “We got the idea one day while we were cooking and chopping tomatoes.”

“We got fascinated with the sound the chopping made, and from that moment we have started to hear music in a new way.”

They perform 20 to 30 times a year around the world, including benefit concerts for vegetable workers in Southern Spain, who the musicians say endure “inhumane conditions”.

Source: Ananova, 11/19/07

Jamming

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow, Music on January 29, 2008 at 6:54 am

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In “Jamming: The Art & Discipline of Business Creativity,” author John Kao says that creativity represents a powerful form of competitive advantage — one that managers and organizations must learn to leverage if they want to survive and thrive in the new millennium.

To accomplish this, Kao urges leaders and managers teams to learn from the `practices of freestyle jazz improvization — or “jamming.” In this type of music, the musicians play, or “riff,” off of one another to create new sounds, at once unpredictable and harmonious. In “Jamming,” Kao explains how members of a work team can use the principles of jamming to collaborate at a higher, more creative level.

The author begins the book by painting a compelling picture of what he calls “The Age of Creativity.” In this new era, companies are competing not only for raw materials and technology, but also for creative people and the valuable ideas they produce. In the Age of Creativity, those companies that do the best job of empowering innovation and supporting collaboration (the sharing of ideas) will develop a powerful competitive edge over competitors that follow more traditional business models.

For more on Jamming and John Kao click here.

EMI Media Settles with ETA

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Legal, Risk on January 28, 2008 at 6:38 am

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FINALLY, what began almost a year ago, Entrepreneur Media Inc, publisher of Entrepreneur Magazine, has agreed to a settlement with Entrepreneur the Arts. While they verbally agreed to settle last June, it took another seven plus months to get their final settlement. So, needless to say, this has been a bit of a worry.

If you would like to know more about what happened, I wrote a series of posts about my battle with EMI. ( They are all under the category titled legal)

However, essentially what happened is that I elected to pursue placing a trademark on my logo for Entrepreneur The Arts, with the guidance of a trademark attorney, and much to my surprise, and his, we were served with the threat of litigation if we did not cease using the word Entrepreneur in the name.

EMI media has threatened and successfully stopped many start-up ventures and even others well established ventures from using the word ( see my post titled Tongue Tied). Fortunately, for me, while one of very few, I was able to reach a settlement with them by agreeing to permanently display a disclaimer with my logo. If you look at the ETA logo, you will see there already is one there. While my attorney was negotiating with EMI, as a good faith effort, he suggested I place a disclaimer under the logo to further demonstrate to EMI Media that there was no possibility that anyone coming to my site was confusing my website and work with their publications or website.

However, my settlement, reached last Friday, requires now that a differently worded disclaimer appear. Soon you will see different words under the logo.

It is a relief to once and for all have this behind me. Choosing to fight a two ton gorilla was a risk and it did cost me some money. But as a result of taking this risk, unlike many others who simply folded their tent and changed their business name, I was able to continue to use my name- Entrepreneur The Arts, get my trademark and refrain from a legal battle with EMI Media.

My hope is that as a result of my efforts, others who encounter the wrath of EMI might be able to also save their business name, that uses the common word entrepreneur, in their start-up venture.

Ride, Trust and Play

In Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Writing on January 25, 2008 at 5:02 am

It has been more than eight weeks since my book, Build a Blue Bike, was sent out by my literary agent Susan Schulman to publishers. Today Susan forwarded me the first rejection letters.

On a positive note my book was described as “charming and interesting”, but, a “little too soft”. Another described it as “unique and thought-provoking”, but for this publisher business books were out of their realm.

Build a Blue Bike was sent to eleven major publishing houses. We now wait to hear from nine.

Build a Blue Bike is a book with a mission on a journey. How it came into being, and what I have witnessed it do, to help so many artists understand what they uniquely need to flourish, for me, has been an amazing ride filled with good karma, enlightenment, purpose, passion and riddled with coincidence and irony.

I would never have come this far to not reach my destination as the first book on the business shelf for artists.

They say that the last train you need to catch, to carry you home, is the hardest to wait for.

As I wait at this station, in darkness and alone, the hands of time, illuminated brightly, stand still and motionless.

I gaze at their hands, again and again and again, hoping with each new glance that they will wave the seconds, minutes and hours quickly by me– but instead they offer another opportunity.

While I wait on the platform, I think I will skip rope, play hopscotch and get an ice cream cone. The night air is still and the stars are bright.

The Only Road To Everything You Want

In Interesting Articles on January 24, 2008 at 7:49 pm

This came in an email newsletter the other day from an inspirational woman by the name of Tama Kieves who wrote a book called This Time I Dance. Her words of wisdom really resonate with me and I hope you find them as helpful.

We commit to real change, and then we resist it. This cosmic dance has been going on forever in every ballroom since the beginning of time…

I’ve committed to write more this year. It’s what I want. Now that I’ve said it, I know I will drag into my writing room, and it will feel as though I have to hoist a dead body out of the way, just to sit down and type out a sentence. I’ll want to wash my hands, and then research how soap got invented, and then perhaps start a small organic soap company…. But I’ll stay there and write instead.

There is a part of myself who will wheedle: “Maybe tomorrow. You’ll feel better tomorrow.” Then there’s the one who’s painted her toenails hot pink and stomps her imperial feet. “I don’t want to do that,” she bellows. Another part of me bargains. “I’ll answer email now. I’ll do the dishes. Okay, okay, I’ll exercise!”

What is all that about? Therapists call it resistance. In spiritual traditions, they call it the death of the ego or the frightened self. But I’m thinking the technical term is: blah, blah, blah, something to ignore on the road to everything you really want.

In Buddhism, there is a classic story about Milarepa, a Tibetan monk who sought to meditate and find peace in a cave. You can think of it as his new year’s resolution. Just when Milarepa gets all ready to keep his promise to himself, these unruly, foul demons arrive and disrupt his lovely peace-fest. But Milarepa didn’t go ballistic and he didn’t go limp either. As the tale gets told, he accepted his disruptive energies and invited them to tea. He stopped thinking things should be otherwise, and refused to reject the way things were. Then having stopped protesting the demons, they simply disappeared. Those fun-loving Buddhists always have great answers for our pain.

Natalie Goldberg, creative writing guru, makes a similar point. She talks about writing past your inner critic, not giving the critic any energy or pushback. Remember that old childhood retort, “I know I am, but what are you?” That wouldn’t be a good strategy for an infinitely vicious and disturbed inner troll. She says fighting with your inner critic is like “wrestling with tofu.” It’s pointless, exhausting, and smelly in the end. So I’m guessing you can invite tofu to tea as well.

This year I’ve decided I’m going to write– no matter what form resistance takes. I may have to walk past a screaming baboon, crusted barbed wire, or stay in a room with a foul odor. I may have to look in the mirror and confront cellulite and age and the breaking of past promises. But it’s all okay. Because I’m on the road to freedom. There is only one road through this. I’ll be gentle with myself, but I’ll hold to my desires with both fists, all my breath, and the golden stallions of my yet untapped strength. I’ve fooled myself for far too long, saying it’s easier not to make the commitment. Now I know I’ll never live my full dreams without this commitment. Besides, resistance is the clear sign that I’m getting too near the gold mine or stash of real change. I must be afraid of something very big and explosively good. Ooh la la.

What’s the one thing you can do this year that would make every difference in the world to you? What calls to you right now? What would you regret not discovering, beginning, doing or finishing, yet again, for another year? That’s your road to freedom. That’s the pathway to everything you want. Your monkeys are out there. But so are the angels. That’s where you’ll meet your white hot truth and freedom. Everything else is a secondary version of your real life.

I see now that resistance doesn’t matter and will always be part of the turf. Resistance will take many faces. My feeling of failure doesn’t matter. My fear and shame and even all my “reasons” don’t matter. There is only one road to what I want. I can get on that road or not. My dreams aren’t going to change.

This year I’m going to take that road. It’s my year to do it.

I might have to crawl or step over broken glass and hidden rattle snakes, I don’t know. And I don’t much care now. It’s the only next step I can take that points me in my true direction. I’ll bring snacks, bribes, amulets, faith and self-mercy. But I’m going, baby. I’m taking the road to freedom. I hope I see you out there….

The Guest House

In Creative Support, Emotional Intelligence on January 23, 2008 at 3:35 am

If you are unfamiliar with this poem, The Guest House, it is a wonderful expression of the value of self acceptance: You are worthy just as you are, and all of your emotions are necessary to create the future that is waiting for you.

So let each come in through the front door and embrace each one like you would a cherished guest in your home. By doing so, they will honor and shape you.

THE GUEST HOUSE Jelaluddin Balkhi Rumi (1207- 1248)

The human being is a guest house
Every morning there is a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house
and empty it from its furniture
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Your Big Fat Greek Wedding

In Creative Support, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, Theater/Film on January 22, 2008 at 12:40 am

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As the writer and star of the autobiographical comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002), Nia Vardalos took the entertainment industry by storm when the film came virtually out of nowhere to become a surprising hit. However, the real-life story of how Vardalos was able to make the film in the first place proves as interesting as the movie itself.

Born in Winnepeg-Ontario, Canada, Vardalos was raised in a quirky and eccentric family that proudly embraced its Greek heritage and encouraged her creative energies early on. She began her professional career on stage at a local theater, the Rainbow Stage, using her experience to earn a scholarship to Toronto’s Ryerson University. She joined Toronto’s famed Second City improvisational comedy theater troupe in an unconventional manner, taking a job in the box office where she dutifully watched every evening’s production.

One night an actress fell ill and had to be rushed to the hospital fifteen minutes before curtain before a sold-out house. Vardalos saved the day by convincing the producers she knew the show well enough to step into the part-which she did. Her success there led her to move to Chicago’s even more acclaimed Second City theater, where she would ultimately win Chicago’s Jeff Award for Best Actress.

While in Chicago Vardalos met fellow Second City performer Ian Gomez and the two married and moved to Los Angeles in 1993 to further their careers. Gomez hit early with recurring roles on popular TV shows such as “The Drew Carey Show” and “Felicity” while Vardalos had a tougher time, toiling in tiny TV guest spots and small film appearances.

Seeking to find her artistic purpose and desperately in need of a creative outlet, Vardalos began to pen a one-woman stage show to produce and perform in Los Angeles. Risking her own life experience by drawing upon her colorful relatives, the traditions of her powerfully ingrained heritage and the humorous hysteria that surrounded her own wedding to the non-Greek Gomez, she created a play that both affectionately skewered and celebrated her oddball upbringing. Vardalos finished the first draft of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in just two weeks. In this play Vardalos played ten characters presenting it in various theaters around L.A.

The stage incarnation (which she also fashioned into an unsold screenplay) was a modest hit in Los Angeles, and the play’s sole piece of newspaper advertising happened to catch the eye of another woman who grew up in a traditional Greek family and married an outsider, actress Rita Wilson.

Wilson attended, loved the show and returned for a second performance the next night, this time with her husband, actor Tom Hanks, in tow. The couple was duly charmed by and impressed with Vardalos, and Hanks quickly optioned her screenplay for his personal production company, Play-Tone, and agreed to keep her as the star. Meanwhile Vardalos’ play was nominated for an Ovation Award for Best New Play in Los Angeles and also ran in Toronto and Montreal.

Even with the backing of one of Hollywood’s most powerful actors, Vardalos had to weather much attempted studio tinkering with her screenplay, with executives trying variously to cast a more bankable star, re-work the script and even change the ethnicity of the family. The actress was able to stick to her guns and keep the central role of Toula, joining a talented ensemble of actors with TV director Joel Zwick at the helm.

Made for under $5 million, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was released in April 2002 by HBO Independent Productions with little if any pre-release fanfare-including virtually no television advertising or billboards-yet somehow the film was able to attract an audience.

Positive word-of-mouth spread from people who saw the movie, and soon audiences were lining up-Vardalos’ easily accessible comedy transcended its Greek label and appealed to a wide cross section of people, feeling funny and true to anyone who’s had to deal with ethnic differences, eccentric relatives and even simply the often arduous task of getting married.

By the summer of 2002 the breakout film, aided by the media embracing Vardalos’ underdog success story and her connection to Wilson and Hanks, continued to open in more and more theaters and its box office numbers were suddenly challenging concurrent box office blockbusters like “Austin Powers: Goldmember” and “Signs.”
Its take escalated upwards of $230 million….

It might be hard to imagine right now what your next best idea can do, but just look at what Nia was able to do with hers? Instead of continuing to choose the same path every other actor takes in Hollywood, Nia decide to exploit what she uniquely could offer the world. It was Nia’s willingness to risk exposing who she really was through her acting that not only transformed her life as an actress, but also changed how the world feels about Greek traditions because she did. As a fellow Greek, I can assure you her film has helped make each one of us raised in the Greek culture feel so much better. Now our strange quirky customs and rituals are more understood and accepted.

Check out this funny ad peppered in Greek culture. Once upon a time I would have feared what you would have thought, but now, thanks to Nia, I know you will laugh.

Sky Dive Your Life

In Author: Lisa Canning, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Risk on January 21, 2008 at 7:44 am

skydiving2Yes, this picture is of me sky diving. I decided, when I was twenty, to jump because I wanted to know what it was like to fall through the air.

It was the most frightening experience of my life.

First I had to swing my legs outside the door of an in-flight airplane. Then, I had to take my hand and pull myself up to walk along the strut outside the door of a moving airplane. It was ever so windy and took every ounce of my strength to do it.

I felt like I was climbing Mount Everest in the clouds in a wind storm, all for the words from the jump master who said ” OK- let go”.

And I did- as insane as it felt in that moment and with a picture to prove it-I did just simply let go.

I must admit that as I was swinging my legs out of the plane, all I could think was “there really IS a reason they make you sign your life away when you sign up to sky dive because if you are foolish enough to risk death, well, then it’s probably because it might just happen…” For a few moments there- right at the end- I truly thought that I had gone insane and I WAS going to die. How foolish could I be. What WAS I thinking?

But in the very next moment, right after I let go and jumped off my own “cliff”, or in this case out of a plane, I realized what it means to get to the other side.

All I could hear was the rush of wind and total stillness in the air. As I peered below, legs swinging in the breeze, the ground looked like a giant puzzle with all of the parcels of land locked together, in place, making my own internal puzzle feel complete.

I felt nothing but a rush of freedom. I twirled for what seemed like endless time- eternity in a moment- by tugging on the chord of my parachute, which gave me the ability to steer just like behind the wheel of a car. First one, two, then three donuts in the air, what a freedom I never knew, and I giggled with glee.

Freedom is exhilarating. Risk for it. Entrepreneur with it. It is worth a few moments of terror for the ride.

Talkin’ Transformation

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Interesting Articles on January 19, 2008 at 12:39 am

The music business as we know it will soon be dead, and that just might be a good thing for artists, says pop star and composer David Byrne in Wired magazine.
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While Web downloads have crushed CD sales, the changes under way in the recording industry have greatly expanded the ways in which artists can reach consumers and make a living, the former Talking Heads leader writes in Wired. Some of the new models give artists greater control over their creative output than they have had in the past — he cites the growth of profit-sharing arrangements, self-distribution by musicians and deals that allow artists to retain copyright and ownership of their recordings.

By doing more themselves, artists stand to reap a larger percentage of fewer sales — a potentially successful formula, says Mr. Byrne, though he concedes that not every artist is capable of shouldering the additional responsibility. Audiences, he says, should benefit, too, by having access to more, and more interesting music — Read the whole article in Wired

Can a Firm Profit from Free Tunes?

Read Ethan Smith’s article from the Wall Street Journal.

Amid a seemingly endless slide in music sales, the industry is constantly casting about for new ways to make money from its product. The latest experiment: Give it away online, and enlist advertisers to cover costs.

The fate of a new company — Rcrd Lbl (pronounced: Record Label) — will be a test case.

A joint venture of Downtown Records, the independent label behind Gnarls Barkley and others, and Peter Rojas, a journalist and entrepreneur who founded the respected technology blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, Rcrd Lbl is a hybrid record label and blog; its releases are to be posted on the company’s Web site for downloading, free and unrestricted by digital-rights management software that limits copying.

The company has signed up three sponsors so far: Richard Branson’s Virgin America Inc. airline, Nikon Corp., and PPR SA’s Puma AG sneaker unit. The site will also include short articles, social-networking features and Internet radio stations.

Cold War Kids will have music on Rcrd Lbl’s Web site.
Rcrd Lbl’s plans could be read as either a step forward for the ailing music business, or an acknowledgment that the once-thriving industry’s core product is increasingly worthless as a consumer proposition. Already this year, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Radiohead, offered its new album to the public in a digital form permitting consumers to decide what they would pay; data collected by comScore inc. indicated that around 60% of the people who downloaded the album opted to pay nothing; Radiohead has disputed that statistic, without offering its own figures.

Read the entire article

Open Contests for Artists

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea on January 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Check out these upcoming open contests for Artists:

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What can you design with a Red Bull Can?

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Design a Pet Birthday Card for Hallmark

One Blank Piece of Paper

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creative Support, The Idea on January 18, 2008 at 8:03 pm

What could you create with a single blank piece of paper?
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Well, you could write down one fantastic business idea that you have and act on it? Who knows, twenty years from now this one piece of paper may embody one of the most important moments of your life. Are you ready to give your idea a try?

Or maybe you could transform this one blank leaf into a fantastic piece of art, with great commentary built into it, like these artists did.

The following pieces are from an art contest at the Hirshhorn Modern Art Gallery in DC. The rules for the contest were simple: Each artist could use only one sheet of paper to design their piece. No one told them how big that piece of paper could be however…

Check out a few of these delightful works of art.
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Chocolatier Changing The World

In Cooking & Food, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on January 18, 2008 at 3:08 am

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Katrina Markoff, owner and creative force behind Vosges Haut-Chocolat, is taking chocolate and social entrepreneurship to new heights.

A 1995 graduate of Vanderbilt University with degrees in Psychology and Chemistry, three days following graduation Markoff left to pursue her dream of culinary arts in Paris. She studied for one year at Le Cordon Bleu and graduated with Le Grand Diplome in Cuisine and Pastry as well as degrees in Basic and Advanced Oenology.

From Paris, Markoff embarked on an 8 month tour around the world studying food. She worked from place to place, studying the indigenous cuisines of France, Spain, Italy, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Australia and Hawaii.

It was during this period of time that Katrina witnessed the tragic tale of an Afghani woman whose face and arm were mangled by her husband with a bucket of acid. Katrina decided in that moment that she had to help end abuse, and decided to use the unlikely medium of chocolate as a means to ease suffering, and increase the enjoyment of life. From this experience the social for profit mission of Vosage Haut-Chocolat was born.

Based on Katrina’s international experiences, she developed the concept of ‘exotic truffles.’ Fusing a gamut of indigenous spices, flowers, roots, herbs and liqueurs with premium chocolate, she created a unique tasting experience with each bite. “If we can embrace the idea of trying something new such as the perplexing oddity of curry and chocolate, we just may come one step closer to bringing peace to the world through chocolate.”

Ten years have passed since Katrina Markoff founded Vosges Haut-Chocolat with the ambitious mission of bringing peace to the world through chocolate. Concurrently, an organization by the name of V-Day was laying down its roots in an effort to assemble a global network of grassroots activists.

V-Day is devoted to stopping every kind of violence against women and girls, including battery, rape, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery. Its work is predicated on three core beliefs: that art has the power to transform thinking and inspire people to act, that lasting social and cultural change is spread by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and that local women know what their communities need and can become unstoppable.

Each year V-Day increases awareness by focusing on a specific group of women in the world who are resisting violence with courage and vision. This year, the spotlight is turned to New Orleans and the Gulf South in celebration of V-Day’s tenth anniversary. “Katrina Warriors” are honored for their strength in spite of devastating loss, and commended for rebuilding community one brick at a time.

On April 11th and 12th 2008, the New Orleans Arena and the Louisiana Superdome will be transformed into a place of peace where V-Day activists from around the world can connect, network, and celebrate life. Activities will strengthen the V-Day model of empowerment by linking art and activism, building bridges across class, nationality and racial divides, and providing a center of caring, learning and healing for the local community. Activists and service providers will aid, support, and empower survivors of violence.

In 2005, Katrina expanded the Vosges Exotic Candy Bar line to include a 70% cacao dark chocolate bar blended with cacao nibs and Café du Monde chicory coffee. Katrina named the bar “Creole” in homage to the vibrant city of New Orleans. Vosges Haut-Chocolat honors V-Day’s tenth anniversary by donating one dollar for each Creole Exotic Candy Bar sold in 2008. Proceeds support local New Orleans women’s groups in their fight to rebuild.

Chocolate may be an unlikely medium to bring about world change, but it is a sweet one.

Artist as Social Entrepreneur

In Author: Lisa Canning, Authors, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea on January 17, 2008 at 12:09 am

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps. Whereas business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, social entrepreneurs assess their success in terms of the impact they have on society.

Social entrepreneurs often seem to be possessed by their ideas, committing their lives to changing the direction of their field. They are both visionaries and ultimate realists, concerned with the practical implementation of their vision above all else.

Now that you more clearly understand what social entrepreneurship is about, go and re-read the first two paragraphs of this post, but this time read them and replace the word social entrepreneur(s) with artist(s).

In my opinion, the artist as social entrepreneur is almost as natural an expression of entrepreneurship as it gets. Both social entrepreneurship and artistry embrace common ground in their philosophical roots. Almost like a religion, both desire to spread the “good word” through the integrity, thoughtful reflection and determination that an artist’s intuitive nature, creativity and passion naturally create.

Here are some historical examples of leading social entrepreneurs:

Susan B. Anthony (U.S.): Fought for Women’s Rights in the United States, including the right to control property and helped spearhead adoption of the 19th amendment.

Dr. Maria Montessori (Italy): Developed the Montessori approach to early childhood education.
Florence Nightingale (U.K.): Founder of modern nursing, she established the first school for nurses and fought to improve hospital conditions.

Margaret Sanger (U.S.): Founder of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she led the movement for family planning efforts around the world.

John Muir (U.S.): Naturalist and conservationist, he established the National Park System and helped found The Sierra Club.

The business climate has never been riper to embrace the artist nor have the needs for societal positive healthy changes been greater.

While you might associate social entrepreneurship with starting a not-for profit ( also often known for leaving no profits left for the artist), I believe there is a way to combine the very best of the not-for-profit, philanthropic world with the for profit enterprising world through the vehicle of social entrepreneurship. This is definitely part of my journey as an entrepreneur and I think a common ground for discussion with many artists.

After all, the nonprofit environment has changed. Community needs are growing in size and diversity. More non-profits are competing for government and philanthropic funds. Traditional forms of funding are becoming smaller and less reliable. Funders and donors are demanding more accountability.

To me, all this information is an opportunity to face this new reality and embrace it. Build your social entrepreneurial venture like a for profit with a mission founded in integrity and a ” good word” that needs to be shared. This kind of hybrid is the wave of the future- so join the wave. It has started and you’re not too early or too late to jump on it.

What’s your mission? Who are you going to save or change and how will you profit doing it through your art?

small is the new big

In BOOKS: Learn and Grow, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on January 16, 2008 at 12:52 am

Thanks to best selling business writer Seth Godin’s book small is the new big the world now knows that economic times are ripe for those who niche in business.

Call me ahead of my time or just determined to do what I believe in, but this is not new news to me. I have been “niching” for over twenty years and thriving despite it not being the cool “in” thing to do, as it appears now to be. DO click on to the link I provided for you to Seth Godin’s blog- he makes some very clear points about WHY the economic times are ever so ripe for small business with big ideas to flourish. You won’t need an MBA to understand anything he has to say either.

What a wonderful opportunity this truly is for artists. We have an opportunity to change history and for once be known as a group who financially thrives. For the first time each and everyone of us has the possibility to embrace something we love, niche it, and be on top like the big boys of business. Not to mention that as the 21st century unfolds as the creative economy, according to business writers like Richard Florida, we also have the opportunity to lead in it.

Each of us as artists have something of value that we can offer the world and, like never before, the world is willing, interested and might I dare say even eager to embrace it.. if we only learn how to deliver it.

Surprisingly, it is not your level of intelligence that often holds artists back. Nor is it a gene you are missing. What usually stops most artists from learning to niche and thrive lies instead in your ability to take calculated risks, manage fear and trust your inner voice to guide you instead of beat you up routinely with criticism and self-doubt. We take all those years of lesson, practice, rehearsals and determination to “get it right the first time” only, frankly, to find those disciplines trapping us instead of freeing us.

While most artists I have mentored, taught or worked alongside have great SAT scores and high IQ’s, as a whole, many lack the emotional intelligence needed to flourish. This is what stops most artists from creating a life of endless creative and financial freedom and why this is the subject matter of my first book.

After all, how can you take the first step towards flourishing if you lack the skills to risk, need the know how to manage your fears and are not sure if you should trust the positive inner voice that wants to guide you?

Business Week Selects Three Artistic Entrepreneurs

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Fashion, Interesting Articles, Music on January 15, 2008 at 10:10 am

Here are three profiles of Artistic Entrepreneurs under 25 that Business Week featured on their 2007 Top 25 under 25 Young Entrepreneurs Awards List:

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Alex Tchekmeian, 21
AKT Enterprises
Orlando

As a member of an indie rock band while a student, Alex Tchekmeian agreed to handle his band’s finances and order necessary merchandise like T-shirts and stickers. When other bands asked him for help, he agreed, starting several businesses that relied on subcontractors. He says that three years ago he started to take the business seriously, and dropped out of the University of Central Florida to devote more attention to it.

Today, 20-employee AKT Enterprises consists of 15 businesses that revolve around the music industry and include merchandising, Web development, and online ticketing services. Most of AKT’s clients are hardcore bands and record labels. Tchekmeian says the business had $1.3 million revenues in 2006 and estimates it will earn just over $3 million in 2007, with the bulk of the income coming from merchandising, all of which is produced in-house, because he doesn’t “trust the quality of anyone else out there.” As the business has grown, he says he’s received a number of offers from potential investors but has turned them down because now he doesn’t need the money.

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Polina Raygorodskaya, 21
Polina Fashion
Boston

Before Russian native Polina Raygorodskaya started her fashion production services business Polina Fashion, she worked as a model for Major Models in New York. Convinced she could create a successful business herself, she decided to put her modeling career on hold to learn more about business. She enrolled at Babson College, where she is now a senior studying entrepreneurship and marketing.

Raygorodskaya says her business, which she started in April, 2006, after being approached to produce an event from a contact from her modeling days, is profitable and makes the bulk of its profits producing fashion events. She says she has already produced about 50 events, with price tags of $2,000 to $15,000 per event. Despite taking six classes and running the company by herself, Raygorodskaya is planning a major event for February, 2009, that she says could shake up the fashion industry and bring in about $2 million in revenues. If the event is successful, she plans to roll out a monthly series in major cities across the U.S.

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Ashley Reed, 21
ASR Clothing
Detroit

Reed started her business after classmates in high school commented on her custom-designed clothes and asked her to design pieces for them. She says that fashion design has always been her passion.

When her counterparts in the fashion industry learn Reed’s age, she says they usually doubt the seriousness of her business. But that changes once they check out her line of streetwear hoodies, jeans, and T-shirts. Reed says she doesn’t spend too much time worrying about her age, because she’s busy running her business and majoring in retailing at Michigan State during the regular academic year and majoring in fashion merchandising and management at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the summer. Reed expects to complete both degrees in 2008.

Her five-employee business has been featured in newspapers and magazines, and most of its clients are high school or college students from the U.S. but she says recently it has received international orders. For now, she’s investing in equipment that allows her to speed up production and is planning to expand when she graduates.

Here is the link to Business Weeks 2007 Under 25 Young Entrepreneur Awards

Is There a Gene for Becoming an Entrepreneur?

In Interesting Articles on January 15, 2008 at 9:32 am

This article was written by Stacy Perman and appeared in Business Week October 2006

BusinessWeek.com recently asked a cross-section of experts if entrepreneurs are made or born.

When it comes to being an entrepreneur, is it simply a matter of physiological hard wiring? Or is the entrepreneurial spark something that can be lit? Clearly, qualities such as risk taking and determination, common traits in many entrepreneurs, are part of one’s DNA. However, transforming inspiration into a business concept is one thing, and transforming a concept into an actual business is another. Can the characteristics often associated with entrepreneurs—drive, confidence, insight—be acquired? Can they be learned?

With more and more individuals eschewing the corporate ladder in order to start their own outfits at ever younger ages, BusinessWeek.com recently put the question to a cross-section of entrepreneurs and academics: Are entrepreneurs born or made?

Frank Moss, director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former CEO of Tivoli Systems as well as co-founder of Stellar Computer and Infinity Pharmaceuticals: I would suggest that the entrepreneurial gene is in everyone’s DNA. Eons before the first big companies emerged about a thousand years ago we were all entrepreneurs: farmers, craftsmen, artisans, storytellers, bloodletters, etc.

I believe that we are all born with the ability to be an entrepreneur, but we have to unlearn the risk-averse behavior that became part of our culture in the developed world over the past 500 years. As information and communication technologies tear down these barriers, we will see a full circle as billions of people will be empowered to express their entrepreneurial genes.

Mark Veeder, co-founder and creative director of Event Quest in New York City and co-owner and co-creator of the River Market in Barryville, N.Y.: I think entrepreneurs are definitely born. Even though “the making of an entrepreneur” is a huge business in this country with Tony Robbins and the rest, I think those programs try to systematize the mind of the entrepreneur, which is impossible. My feeling is that entrepreneurs are a rare mix, the perfect storm of creativity, talent, confidence, personality, drive, intuition, and energy.

They possess a high EQ [emotional quotient], and their IQ is not as important—it’s a lifestyle, it’s embedded like an instinct, not something you can turn on and off. At times it is a blessing and a curse. While many people are dreamers, a true entrepreneur’s dreams are converted into realities because true entrepreneurs are always creating, always thinking of ideas, mentally evaluating endless possibilities and are excited by the new and the next.

Steve Hindy, co-founder of the Brooklyn Brewery and co-author of Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery: I think everyone is born with an entrepreneurial spark, a drive to create something, a product or a service that will fulfill them, pay the bills, and afford some leisure. Some of us fan that spark into a flame and forge a business. It is deeply satisfying to create a business and see it become part of the world around you. By celebrating entrepreneurship, by recounting the hard knocks tales of entrepreneurs, and by studying their triumphs and screw-ups, business schools absolutely can nurture more entrepreneurs.

Trish Karter, president and founder of Dancing Deer Bakery in Boston: I can’t answer the nature/nurture question. But if a person’s background and intuition don’t make her/him comfortable with risk, resilient in the face of ridiculously challenging circumstances, unreasonably optimistic about the future, and instinctively inclined to put two feet on the ground happilyevery morning, they aren’t likely to be counted in the successful entrepreneur column.

I don’t think an entrepreneur must necessarily be an innovative thinker, but successful ones often have those interesting brains that see the world differently, which is perhaps where the gene pool comes in.

Neal Thornberry, faculty director of the Babson Executive Education at Babson College and author of Lead Like an Entrepreneur: The actual answer is yes and no. We know we can teach people elements of the entrepreneurial mindset and skill set, but one thing needs inducement and the other involves self perception. We can clearly teach people to identify new business opportunities, and we can teach them how to differentiate a good idea from a good opportunity.

In fact much of what we do at Babson is to teach students how to think and act like entrepreneurs. So we teach students how to finance their ideas, how to assess market demand, how to scale the business, mitigate risk, etc. But the passion that entrepreneurs must have to take their ideas all the way through to creating a viable new business enterprise is not so teachable. And the passion we are talking about is for their idea.

They need either to be in love with it or learn to love it if they are going to have the perseverance to see it through. I have had many people who had not shown any entrepreneurial orientation who got switched on by learning about entrepreneurship.

The other, less teachable part of entrepreneurship is the belief that the person has the ability to turn their idea into a business. We often find people with a good opportunity, but they don’t have enough confidence in themselves. Education can help here as well, but equally important is surrounding the would-be entrepreneur with others who share his/her excitement for the idea.

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Blu Chipz

In Interesting Articles, The Idea on January 14, 2008 at 2:13 am

Do you have what it takes to get to the next level? If your an athlete, BluChipz will help you get there. With over 7 million students participating in high school sports and about 400,000 in college, scouting services and publishers can only cover athletes at the top camps and tournaments. Recent start up BluChipz, however, can help you get noticed.

www.BluChipz.com caters to all athletes regardless of if you’re a top prospect, need to raise your profile or you’re just in it for fun. You can show and prove your athletic skills through BluChipz.com. You generate the content, so it’s a chance for you to write your own story.

At BluChipz.com male and female athletes can create individual or team profiles and blogs, upload pics and video, list stats and create an athletic resume to gain or increase exposure to coaches, recruiters and fans. In fact, anyone interested in sports (coaches, trainers, fans, booster clubs, etc) can create a profile and get on.

In addition to sports networking and training, you will find links to music, gear, entertainment, organizations and education that fits your lifestyle on BluChipz.

Interesting idea. Does it give you one for your artistic start-up?

I found this start-up venture because of a six part series the founder, Greg Ridley, blogged about starting BluChipz. Here is what he wrote:

A Guide To Starting Your Company Part 1

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Turn Yourself Inside Out

In Emotional Intelligence on January 11, 2008 at 5:49 am

Someone recently described to me how it felt to change negative thought patterns and attitudes. I think the exact words she used were ” It feels like I am being turned inside out.”

What a wonderful thought to think that who we really are can be on the outside! Just think how much you have to offer the world if only the world could experience what comes from your heart.

While your inner brightness might scare you a bit, think instead about how much easier it will be adorn it with whatever symbolizes its freedom.

After all by turning yourself inside out you can free yourself from pain and fear. If you can do that, you will never again sit on pins and needles…

Final BCOME Seminar In February

In Current Events on January 11, 2008 at 1:31 am

The final BCOME seminar on music entrepreneurship of the 2007-2008 academic year will be held at the Northwestern University Regenstein Hall of Music on Saturday, February 2, 2008.

Registration is free, and opens at 8am. For more information, visit the BCOME website.