Teaching the Next Generation of Musician Entrepreneurs

By Allison Bolt

(Photo/Second Line Arts Collective)

Darrian Douglas and Gregory Agid founded the New Orleans based nonprofit organization Second Line Arts Collective as a passion project to help young musicians have the tools to become successful artists and entrepreneurs.

Second Line Arts Collective uses a variety of programming to teach youth, ages 15 to 23 how to improve their craft and gain the entrepreneurial skills to have a successful career in the arts. The organization offers the Sanaa Music Workshop, a yearly two-week long camp as well as The Working Artist Project.

Almost five years ago, Douglas and Agid had the idea to create the organization. There was only one problem-they didn’t have funding. “The first year, we had no money just an idea,” says Douglas. Agid and Douglas began asking local spots if they could use their space for the organization they wanted to start. There was one catch, they couldn’t pay for the space yet. As expected, everyone said no.

“Everyone said no except one organization. They said yes and we were like, we don’t have any money,” says Douglas. “So, we went to the internet, we went to Facebook.” Agid and Douglas raised around $3,000 on Facebook. However, it wasn’t enough to build the organization from the ground up.

Darrian Douglas (Photo/Darrian Douglas)

Agid and Douglas began asking their friends in the industry if they could teach at the organization’s first one-week camp. They paid all of their guest artists and teachers, although some declined payment or donated their time. The first year they couldn’t pay the industry standard, but promised raises the following year. Thankfully, they were able to deliver on those promises.

“Darian and I to this point still haven’t gotten paid,” says Agid. “This is ultimately a passion project for the two of us. As musicians, we want to pay people. You’re doing professional work, that’s the way you show someone appreciation for what they do.”

Agid and Douglas are both full-time musicians while also working on the camp they built. “Gregory and I are both on the road, we probably make 90 percent of our income on the road, that means we’re on the road a lot,” says Douglas. Yet, Agid and Douglas managed to create the organization from scratch while still working full-time. “This is something we wanted to get done and we were going to make the time for it however it was possible,” says Agid.

Gregory Agid (Photo/Gregory Agid)

This dedication is a value they teach at their camp. “You may not have enough money, you may not have enough time, you may not have the right resources but historically speaking, people have always found a way to make it happen,” says Agid.

The camp focuses on educating young musicians on the business of being a musician. Mornings at the camp are dedicated to music education taught primarily by musicians who are close in age to the students. This ensures the teachers are relatable with a working knowledge of entering the industry in the current year. Music educators have included Scott Johnson, Jonathan Michel, Amina Scott, Emily Fredrickson and more.

Afternoons at the camp are spent learning about the music industry from music industry professionals. These teachers are from various professions ranging from film composers to Grammy-nominated drummer Jameson Ross and even Gregory Davis who books music for the New Orleans Jazz Festival, one of the largest music festivals in the world. In these sessions, students learn everything they need to know about being their own business in the music industry including taxes, budgeting, booking gigs, freelancing and more.

“Every single one of us loves entertainment. We all love art, we watch movies, we read books, we listen to music and art is one of the most important facets of our society,” says Agid. “At the same time, no parent wants their kid to be a musician, or to be a painter, or to be a director because they’re like ‘oh, you’re not going to make any money, just be a doctor.’”

So, Douglas and Agid are taking the entrepreneurial obstacle that musicians face into their own hands. Through Second Line Arts Collective they are teaching the next generation of musicians and artists how to be entrepreneurs and make a stable living from music.

“Doctors and lawyers don’t show up to work and charge nothing,” says Agid. “They are trained in how to handle their finances. Money is always talked about in those industries and I think that what we’re trying to do is create a new avenue for the next generation of artists so that they can continue to create.”

Originally published at https://www.forbesignite.com on September 3, 2020.

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