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UNT College of Music

Wait for the pitch

Profile image for Lucinda Breeding
Lucinda Breeding

Students present business ideas before audience

It's more of an aquarium than Shark Tank, said professor Fabiana Claure.

Claure lead the brand new music entrepreneurship program in the University of North Texas College of Music. And on Sunday, teams of students will pitch music business ideas to judges in the first Music Entrepreneurship Competition Grand Finale and Awards Ceremony.

But the judges won't be out for blood like the panel on the popular reality television show.

The contest offers students in the program a chance to test what they've learned.

"Musicians study their instrument first because they have a passion for it. They love to play and to perform," Claure said.

But with the economy changing, Claure said, the university is encouraging music majors to be more versatile than before.

"We want them to be able to do more than perform and teach," she said. "I participated in an event like this when I was in graduate school. My husband and I were able to open a music academy in Miami, Florida, and it's still running today.

Students started working on their business proposals and models late last year, Claure said. The finalists will pitch their business ideas in a Shark Tank format -- Claure said the students will make presentations to judges before a live audience, as well as taking audience questions.

First prizes will be awarded to a graduate team and an undergraduate team, with $5,000 cash awards. Second-place winners will get a smaller amount, and one team will win a $1,000 Audience Choice Award. The prizes are funded through the college's budget.

Claure said the experience will give the team members more skills to rely on after graduation.

"College is a busy time for students, with coursework and studies, but it's actually an ideal time to start a business. In college you make connections, and after graduation, the students will be giving each other jobs," Claure said.

But she's cautioned the finalists to stay flexible.

"I tell them that just because they have a business plan doesn't mean things won't change," she said. "The minute we opened the doors of our academy? It was as if everything changed. But we'd thought through so many problems and scenarios. Think of it this way: When you are on stage and you play a note that doesn't go so well, you have to adapt and do something else. The students have to be ready to apply that same creativity to their businesses."

Students in the music entrepreneurship program study marketing techniques  they later  apply to their senior recitals, performing arts management, and work an internship.

The grand finale and award ceremony is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday in the Recital Hall at the UNT Music Building, 415 Ave. C.

Admission is free.