Published: April 14, 2021 By

Sophia Thaut

The mission of the Entrepreneurship Center for Music (ECM) is simple: to equip today’s music students with the skills and tools they need to create sustainable careers in the arts. 

In light of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the world as we knew it, this aim is increasingly relevant. The past year has demonstrated that no one is immune to unemployment, and traditional orchestral jobs or roles at opera houses have become even more competitive. 

How to minimize the risk of job loss? The ECM—in partnership with the Leeds School of Business—builds on the College of Music’s academic excellence by offering students opportunities to learn more about the business of music and how applied entrepreneurship can expand career versatility.

Among the ECM’s most influential programs is the Undergraduate Certificate in Music Entrepreneurship (UCME), comprising three College of Music courses and three to four courses taught by Leeds School of Business faculty. Students who complete the program graduate with a bachelor's in music, a minor in business and the UCME.

“The certificate program made me think outside of the box and become a much more well-rounded musician,” says violinist and graduating senior Sophia Thaut. “I really feel that I’ve benefited from this program, and I'm sure I'll use the skills I've learned throughout my music career.” 

Curtis Sellers

Curtis Sellers, an oboist and fellow graduating senior, agrees: “The certificate program helped me put myself out there and make connections with people I never would have otherwise.”

In their final class, students complete an independent study with ECM Director Jeffrey Nytch. These capstone projects synthesize all they've learned as program participants. To complete their projects, most students reach across disciplines to realize their inspirations and ideas.

Both Thaut and Sellers are working on apps for their capstone projects and have met many app developers and coders along the way. 

Specifically, Thaut is partnering with flute student Claire Gunsbury (2021) to create a mindfulness app for musicians. “To be honest, I never thought we'd make it this far,” Thaut says. “Creating an app takes a lot of time and support, but we found so many people in the greater Boulder community who are very generous with their expertise and support for CU students.”

Sellers also found community support and encouragement from his teachers. His app aims to help connect musicians who want to form chamber groups. 

“I’ve been able to reach out to computer science professors, as well as work with Dr. Nytch to finish my project," he says. "It’s great to be able to collaborate with people outside of music to make something like this happen.”

The ECM also offers the Arts Administration Certificate for graduate students and brings in many expert speakers to share their insights into the life of an entrepreneurial artist.