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Friday, March 31, 2023

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The new program will provide SDSU's music students with a strong foundation that will allow them to thrive as entrepreneurs. The new program will provide SDSU's music students with a strong foundation that will allow them to thrive as entrepreneurs.

Starving Artists No More

SDSU is launching a Music Entrepreneurship and Business Program unlike anything else in the country.
By Beth Downing Chee

This fall, San Diego State University is launching a Music Entrepreneurship and Business Program that is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Open to students in all music disciplines, from classical voice to jazz and composition, the Music Entrepreneurship and Business Program is a professional bachelor of music degree with a specialization in entrepreneurship.

Developed as a partnership between SDSU’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts and the College of Business Administration, the program embeds 15 units of entrepreneurship classes ranging from the Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship to Creativity and Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Finance, in addition to business course electives.

Empowering musicians

“Most students come into the music program wanting to be a performer, but the reality is that it’s a highly competitive field that may not fully support their ambitions from a career standpoint,” said Donna Conaty, associate dean of SDSU’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.

“This program will empower these music majors to be leaders and have the confidence — and practical skills — to be successful entrepreneurs, opening more doors to them as they pursue their love of music.”  

Several universities across the country offer programs combining music entrepreneurship and business, but they are geared for musicians in more specialized areas such as commercial music. SDSU’s Music Entrepreneurship Program is the only one available to any artistically qualified student, said Conaty, allowing students to meld their passion and purpose with significant experiences that enable their future development into cultural entrepreneurs and leaders.

The entrepreneurship track will be an addition to the 72 units of music coursework required for a music degree and will be tailored to meet the individual needs of each student.

Entrepreneurial campus

“San Diego State University prides itself on the entrepreneurial spirit that can be found across campus and it is so exciting for us to be able to bring this experience to music students,” said Alex DeNoble, executive director of SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, who has been working with Conaty to design the Music Entrepreneurship and Business program.

“More than just a curricular experience, the program will also provide co-curricular activities such as internships, mentorships, competitions and community outreach that will take this experience beyond the classroom into something so much more valuable,” DeNoble continued, noting that SDSU was recently named by FORBES as one of the nation's Most Entrepreneurial Univesities.

Only the beginning

Since many SDSU graduates stay in the region, Conaty believes graduates of the music entrepreneurship and business program will bring highly desirable skills into the community, whether forming their own enterprise, working as arts organization leaders, teaching music, working for non-profits and finding unique ways to use their musical and entrepreneurial talent.

The first cohort of music entrepreneurship students will meet when school begins August 25.

“I am curious to see which students are drawn to this program,” DeNoble said. “It will be exciting to find out who they are, why they joined and what we can do to help them succeed.”

This is only the beginning, said DeNoble, who envisions that this program may inspire other departments across campus such as design, theater and film to embrace entrepreneurship, strengthening career opportunities for students who are passionate for areas outside of business.