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Sunday, April 25, 2010


The Entrepreneurial Guide to Entertainment with Sandy McKee

Many major business schools have degrees or certificates in Entrepreneurship. And, most colleges and university have degrees in the Arts and Entertainment genres such as Music, Dance, Drama, etc. Others offer Travel Industry Management degrees for students interested in the hotel and hospitality fields. Few, however, offer a mixture of all these into one Entertainment Entrepreneurship program. One school that “gets” my mantra (‘Having Fun is Serious Business’) is LEEDS METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY in Leeds, U.K. (about four hours drive from London, and two and a half by train.)

Leeds Met offers courses leading to a BA (Hons) in Entertainment Management. According to their website,

“The main focus of this course is on: the cultural heritage: broadcast media, music, performing, literary and visual arts, and tourist attraction sectors which provide enjoyment, amusement or education for their customers.

“The course aims to provide students with appropriate knowledge and skills to progress into management careers within the entertainment sector managing facilities such as theme parks, theatres, cinemas, live music venues, museums, art galleries, broadcast media companies and night clubs.”

That’s all well and good. But what caught my eye was an interesting micro-grant program that offers funding to give students a chance to stage a live event and put their book-learning to the test. It’s called the Entertainment Entrepreneur Coaching Program (EECP) and was launched at Leeds Met in 2008 as a type of entertainment entrepreneur incubator. Students may submit an application for funding after completing a questionnaire and getting a faculty advisor. This pre-production phase is a critical component of the learning process in that it forces the student to think through all aspects of the project, put their ideas in writing, and then “sell” the concept to a faculty mentor. The application forms the blueprint for their business plan. If approved by the committee, the student receives the sum of £500 to defray the costs of their event.

STUART MOSS is a Senior Lecturer and Teacher Fellow at Leeds Met and the course leader for the BA (Hons) Entertainment Management program. He is the author of the textbook, The Entertainment Industry: An Introduction (2009). He writes a blog on issues related to the global entertainment industry called Entertainment Planet. It can be found at:

Professor Moss writes this about the EECP:

“It is designed to nurture entrepreneurial ideas that have an entertainment remit, in that the tangible or intangible ‘products’ that participants within the program wish to develop are designed to captivate an audience through sensory stimulation that is capable of provoking an emotional response amongst the audience (Vogel, 2004). For the purposes of clarity, sixteen specific areas of the entertainment industry have been identified as being suitable for EECP projects, these are as follows: staged story and variety; music; bars, pubs and clubs; cinema and film; broadcast media; audio-visual media; the internet; gaming; printed media; spectator sports; thrillertainment; edutainment; sellertainment; culturtainment; spiritual entertainment; and health entertainment. The program has already assisted the set up of several entertainment related business ideas, including: a student radio station; a sustainable sound system powered by wind and solar power, and a dub-step record label.”

This type of guided practice, in my opinion, is wise and should be encouraged. You may get high marks on all tests and papers. But until you are face-to-face with that first customer, client, or audience, you don’t have a clue about what business entails. The students in the EECP at Leeds Met have an opportunity to try their wings without too much fear that they’ll fall flat. The discipline of producing a written business plan, adhering to a tight budget, and pitching to an advisor and a committee will put them miles ahead of the vast majority of maverick entrepreneurs who fly by the seat of their pants.

Business owners and managers would do well to apply this same process to the training and professional development of their employees. A series of micro-projects with guidance for each step would be a sound way to raise up a workforce with the skills to implement the campaigns and strategies needed to reach the business’s overall goals.

Hats off to Leeds Met for showing us that having fun is not only serious business, but it can also be PROFITABLE business.

For more information, please visit Sandy's TNNW Bio


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