Music Entrepreneurs: The intersection of career development and personal development

Read about four successful musicians who have taken their musical talents and shaped powerful successful careers by following their passions and using their strengths to create authentically successful and unique careers.  These are music entrepreneurs who are the models of success!


I just spent two fascinating days last week at the NETMCDO conference that brought together career development officers from conservatories and music programs around the country.  The object of the conference was to develop the ideal curriculum for teaching career development. 

One of the highlights of the conference was a panel featuring four conservatory graduates speaking about their career paths.  The speakers were all engaged in a range of activities that went far beyond performing the instruments on which they were trained:


Pianist/songwriter/entrepreneur Kimball Gallagher, violinist/violist/teaching artist Katie Kresek, percussionist and theater owner Michael Sgouros, and pianist/broadcaster/music writer/lecturer Orli Shaham.


All four of these artists took their musical training and shaped their careers as a function of their other strengths and passions in order to create their authentic career success.  These musicians were music entrepreneurs in the truest sense of the word.  While each had a different career path, they shared the following traits:

  •  An ability to seize opportunities and take the initiative to make things happen
  •  A sense of personal responsibility
  • A positive can-do attitude
  • Self-confidence
  • An ability to inspire others to share their passions
  • A strong work ethic

These artists also exhibited strengths that went far beyond music talent.  This is another aspect of being a music entrepreneur and creating the career that you want.  These skills and talents  included: 

  • Public speaking
  • Audience engagement
  • Project management
  • The ability to collaborate successfully with others and know how to be accountable
  • Organizational, business and fundraising skills

Grafted onto these skills were the entrepreneurial skills of:

  • Knowing what skills they needed in order to be successful and developing those skills
  • Being inspired by someone else and making the idea your own
  • Reaching our for support from others, including having a personal board of directors
  • Learning from past experience and building on strengths

These are the very people who are shaking up the world of classical music! (See my prior blog post for more examples).

Bottom line:

To be a successful artist, in addition to be a talented musician, you need to develop yourself as you develop your career.

As a life and career coach who spends a lot of time with my clients in and in my workshops on personal development, the message from these talented, inspirational artists was music to my ears!  In my experience, the people who have the most fulfilling careers are doing things that they love, that they are good at and that they consider important to them. 

So learn from the experience of these successful music entrepreneurs:  find your inspiration, seize the opportunities,  develop your strengths, apply your talents in a way that feels authentic and powerful to you, know what you need to learn in order to be a success and have the confidence that you can do it!  You will be amazed at the results. 

© Astrid Baumgardner 2011