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From finance to fine arts — a perspective on music business

music_businessNext week the Augsburg community will be treated to a presentation on trends and careers in music business. The guest speaker is performer, songwriter, and teacher Dick Weissman. Weissman is the author of the best-selling “The Music Business: Career Opportunities & Self Defense” and “Understanding the Music Business.”

Following the presentation, students will be able to talk with an all-star panel of industry experts including an Augsburg MBA graduate, Sarah Phelan ’09. Phelan is a marketing program manager with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Phelan was working in marketing at Thrivent Financial when she was recruited into the Augsburg MBA program. Soon after she finished her graduate studies, she started looking for a job. “I decided that it was a good time to put some feelers out there, given that I had a new degree on my resume,” she says.

Though she has an undergraduate degree in theology and philosophy of religion, Phelan enjoyed marketing and wanted to stay in it. She also found the arts scene in Minneapolis and St. Paul intriguing. “It’s a very vibrant scene,” she said, “and I always saw myself going in the non-profit direction.”

Phelan landed a job with SPCO and works on a grant project from the Wallace Foundation. She is taking a grassroots, community-based approach to marketing for the orchestra, a somewhat unique method for an arts organization in a major metropolitan area. “‘It’s been a really unique opportunity. We’re doing everything for the first time so everything is a new experience.”

Phelan hopes to share her experience on the marketing side of music business with students next week. “Everything I do is hands-on and focused on how to get the word out,” she says. In that sense, she says her work is very similar to how a band or smaller organization would market themselves—using social media and grassroots communication.

Phelan says the Augsburg MBA program was very beneficial for her career. She says what she learned at Augsburg could be applied to a variety of industries. “I think the Augsburg MBA is a great fundamental learning experience, and it gave me a solid foundation to make the jump from financial services to the arts.”

The music business seminar will be held Tuesday, Apr. 13 from 4-6 p.m. in Sateren Auditorium. The seminar is open to all students, and admission is free but reservations are recommended. Email to make a reservation.

Panelists include:

-Jeralyn Steele, Steele Family performing artists and WCCO Radio personality

-Brad Eggen, attorney and president of the Twin Cities Musicians Union, Local 30-73, American Federation of Musicians

-Shantel Dow, president of Dow Artists (artist management)

-Steve McClellan, executive director of Diverse Emerging Music Organization (; faculty member, McNally-Smith College of Music

-Sue McLean, president of Sue McLean and Associates (concert promotion)

-Sarah Phelan ’09 MBA, marketing program manager, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

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