#TBT: Who Wants to Be a Live Entertainment Entrepreneur?

Happy #TBT. To celebrate, we’re sharing an oldie-but-goodie post from Jim: Who Wants to Be a Live Entertainment Entrepreneur?

I realize that I throw this term around a lot, but I’ve never really bothered to explain what I mean by it.

You probably have a template in your head for what an entrepreneur is. Typically, it’s one of two things: a guy or gal hanging out his or her shingle as a designer or freelance writer or attorney, trying to fashion a living (preferably a good one) from his or her individual skills; or a nerd or nerd-like person with a big brainy idea trying to shake down the venture capital world for the millions he or she will need to bring their techno-baby to life.

But in our industry of live entertainment, many people don’t think of entrepreneurship first. Of course, I believe strongly that at this stage in the Live 2.0 phenomenon [circa 2009], we can’t get enough entrepreneurial thinking in our business, and I believe further that entrepreneurial opportunities are rich with potential.

Here’s what I mean: If you can develop a concept that will appeal to a group of people willing and able to come out to a show, you can build yourself a career that you own and possibly even make a fortune. It could be a small fortune, but it could also be a big Guy Laliberte-sized fortune.

Think of it. Guy started as a street performer with no money to speak of. He did have an artistic vision, though, and a sense of adventure for risk and growth. Over time, this vision became a popular show, which became a large and sustainable business built on that show, which over time became a constellation of shows still centered on the same vision, which over time became what I regard as the greatest performing arts organization in the world.

Cirque du Soleil.

I see this pattern play out in smaller ways all the time. David Elzer started his career as a publicist for Disney, who got assigned to doing PR for The Lion King musical when it came to Hollywood. Sensing this was his calling, he hung out a shingle as a publicist for L.A.’s small theater community. He eventually decided that he knew enough about what made shows successful that he could develop his own, and so he launched The Marvelous Wonderettes. This ran successfully in L.A. for a long time and toured to other places, so he did the whole thing over again with a similar but different show called Life Could Be a Dream, which has been successful, too.

In other words, he took a job, turned it into a career and is now creating a brand.

There are endless opportunities in this field for people with a creative vision to match the ability to realize a show and effectively market it.

And with the stock market more or less permanently going sideways (at best), with venture capital funds posting several straight years of negative returns, and with real estate still probably not going up anytime soon, investors may well be interested in a small investment in a small, successful show to give it the fuel to grow into a big, successful show.

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