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  • Embark on a Music Career with Backing

  • Hank Shocklee
    Hank Shocklee, founder of the group Public Enemy, joins the School of Jazz faculty to help students on the path to entrepreneurship

    What if becoming a creative entrepreneur meant orchestrating a constellation of resources? Hank Shocklee, an instructor at the School of Jazz, part of the College of Performing Arts within The New School, is best known for founding the group Public Enemy and as the mastermind producer behind the BOMB SQUAD. In his role as educator, he shares what it means to be a cutting-edge entrepreneur in the music industry today. By taking his course, Eyes of the Entrepreneurs, students can set out on their path to entrepreneurial freedom on the first day.

    To be successful in any business, one should be eager to transcend disciplinary boundaries and master skills outside of a core area of study. But Shocklee, a GRAMMY nominee and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, stresses that a strong desire to learn is especially important in the music industry. A single performer's career is made up of many facets, and a 21st-century artist is expected to be familiar with them all. For example, pianists need to know more than just how to play the piano; they must consider sonic engineering, other instruments, legal terminology, branding, marketing, public relations, social media, and money management.

    Expertise in every area is not necessary,but a general understanding of each can help musicians make wise decisions when it comes to launching a career. This understanding doesn't come from books alone. Shocklee describes an entrepreneur as a “perpetual student,” someone who learns from those around him or her. “When I was a senior in college, I received my first contract with Def Jam Records and couldn't understand it,” he says. “I went straight to a law professor and asked for help. You bet I can read contracts now.”

    The first ste toward developing exciting business opportunities, he believes, is fostering a network of diverse and dynamic resources. Shocklee says that musicians need to work and grow with the creative peers closest to them. The College of Performing Arts, part of a university that encourages students to study outside of their schools, is an ideal setting in which to connect and collaborate.

    “I wasn't born an entrepreneur,” he says. “No one is, but anyone can learn if they're willing to be an active participant in their community in and outside of the practice room.” Through his new course, Shocklee is determined to provide his students with the tools necessary to pave their own path - alongside their collaborators - in the music industry and beyond, saying, “There's a great need for young musicians. I'm here to help them find their way."

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