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A Life In Music

January 25, 2016

Guest post by Stacy England

I'm excited this week to feature my first guest post! Stacy England and I have known each other since we were kids. We both pursued careers in music, and Stacy has built a diverse entrepreneurial career for herself. In response to my recent blog post, Say Yes, she said, "[Music is]... a word of mouth business based on reputation and referrals. Self-confidence and the chops to back it up [make] the difference." I found that entrepreneurially-minded analysis to be spot on. So in the search for my first guest poster, it was the perfect opportunity to invite Stacy to write about the "gig gone bad," a topic she suggested. (And it seemed like Stacy might have a story or two, as I suspect most musicians do.) I think you will find Stacy's perspective on this key aspect of building a sustainable music career insigh...

January 18, 2016

The third in a seven-part series on applying to academic music jobs.



Higher education has its own language. In this post, I’m going to explore some of the key terms. They’re organized in three categories: teaching and tenure; professor ranks; and types of higher ed institutions. These terms are decidedly arbitrary and by no means exhaustive, but I find them to be the most frequently used and sometimes most frequently misunderstood. Understanding their nuances can make a big difference as you navigate the academic job market. [Note: these terms are specific to U.S. academic positions, as terms in other countries can differ.]


Teaching and Tenure


Teaching load. The number of classes a professor teaches per semester. Institutions calculate loads in a variety of ways, but essentially, an average load for a professor is 2-4 courses per semester. Five courses would be considered high, though this...

January 11, 2016


One key aspect of building a sustainable music career is a willingness to adapt. Multiple research participants in my study on music entrepreneurship cited this as an important mindset. That is, while many musicians would like to have complete control over the type and content of the work they do, the reality is that it will likely be impossible to only the kind of work you desire. Bottom line: you will sometimes have to take music or music-related work that is inconsistent with your personal artistic vision, or (gasp) you may have to take non-music work. For some, this may seem unbearable. And it's understandable, as musicians invest years to hone their artistic skills, only to find that as they enter the professional world, there may be a paucity of work in their specialty. The ensuing frustration may lead some to abandon music altogether. This is unfortunate.


But I also think it’s...

January 4, 2016


Entrepreneurship is a term that’s become something of a buzzword in the 21st century. It seems everywhere you look, people are identifying themselves as entrepreneurs. But what is an entrepreneur? How might entrepreneurship be applied to a music career? Is it needed? I asked these very questions in my research on entrepreneurship instruction in college jazz programs and its impact on graduates’ careers. Here’s what I discovered.


The term entrepreneur originated in 1734 to “describe a person who bears the risk of profit or loss” (Moreland, 2006, p.4). More recently in 2003, the National Commission on Entrepreneurship (NCE) defined entrepreneurship as “the process of uncovering and developing an opportunity to create value through innovation” and noted that “we are living in an ‘Entrepreneurial Age’” (p. 4). 


In NCE’s definition of entrepreneurship, innovation is a key term. For example, the...

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