I just finished reading Bob Lefsetz article entitled "Negotiation". He begins the article by quoting Irving Azoff at the Pollstar Awards: “There’s no one in this room I haven’t screwed.” The implication being this is what you need to do to succeed in the music business - and that it is a good thing. Lefsetz then engages in a rant about the uselessness of music business education. His argument seems to based on the belief that all music industry students have a career goal of being top power brokers and entrepreneurs in the business. Many do I imagine but probably not the majority.
Having been an entertainment attorney for 30 years and a music business educator early on, I believe it is an accurate statement to say that my students and the students I know today do not all aspire to be at the top business pinnacles of the music industry. In fact a large portion aspire to continue their path on the creative side of the music business and major in music business in college to learn more about the business workings of their chosen creative career path—not to become a powerful entertainment attorney, manager or record executive. Where else could a college student meet and hear speakers from the highest levels of all areas of the music industry? Where else would a college student have so many opportunities to intern at major labels and management companies?
And as far as having a business career, I can attest to the fact that many of the top leaders in the music business here in Nashville are graduates of the music industry degree programs at Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University and other universities around the country.
Many of the people Lefsetz lauds as the people all students should praise are not people most of the world would want to emulate. And for those who do, then yes, I will agree that a music business education may not be the path. One might be better off getting the degree in entrepreneurship – or no degree at all if you have found your passion (as Steve Jobs and others suggest). But to think that everyone wants to be like Azoff, David Geffin and others is ridiculous in this day and age. There are many who choose a simpler life – some based on spirituality or values other than amassing power and wealth. We need the Geffin’s and others who built our industry. But without the artists, the writers and the others there would be no industry. So don’t assume that the goals and aspirations of those who Leftsetz admires are the goals and aspirations of the rest of us – including all music business students.