Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment

Jamie Kent: Musician and Entrepreneur

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Jamie Kent, Babson Alum ‘09, shared his experience about entrepreneurship in the music industry during his visit to Babson on September 30, 2016.

On the evening of Friday, September 30th, all the seats of Sorenson Theater, from the front row to the very back, were empty.

A strange sight to see, considering cheerful guitar chords, lively drumbeats and a rich throaty voice, dripping with the sweet country twangs of Nashville, floated throughout the room. However, if one looked a little closer, one would see audience members seated at different round tables on the stage itself, with nostalgic tablecloth and big bowls of Chex Mix, creating an old-timey Southern bar feel. Patrons sat back in their chairs, looking up at the musicians, with an atmosphere replicating the surrounding music: homey and intimate.

That intimacy was cultivated in front of their eyes by guest musician, entrepreneur, consultant and Babson alumni, Jamie Kent (BA ‘09). The New Hampshire native, but now Nashville resident, had spent the Friday at Babson, with a business conversation in the afternoon discussing the immersion of entrepreneurship in the music industry, followed by an evening concert showcasing his latest songs.

Kent’s itinerary for the day seemed to embody Babson wholly with its ideals of combining passion with business to generate that “social and economic value” — which is exactly what Kent wanted when he chose Babson College over Berklee School of Music for his undergraduate career.

When discussing how his Babson roots influenced his career and life path today, Kent noted two stories: Len Green’s Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge class and his summer sampling beer.

“The biggest thing people have a hard time with is that in order to make things happen, you need sales. That’s what being a musician is at its core, and doing that at its core means being able to sell yourself, in that case being able to sell your sponsors.”

Kent explained further, “And I learned at Babson, specifically in Len Green’s class: the Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge. He put us in groups of five and told us each group had to feed the entire class of 50, and then quickly added: ‘I hope you don’t have to pay for it.’ It was like this crucial moment, this change of mindset and thought of  ‘Okay, how can we get someone else to pay for what we have to do?’ So that was this eye-opening thing for me, and then the next summer I figured out how to get sponsored to go across the country and sample beer.”

Kent described his summer. saying: “I wrote about that and found a magazine to publish it, and they paid for our gas. Then, we got Pullman to sponsor it, and we got some camping gear; it was just me and another Babson student, and we did it for a whole summer. So now I’ve sort of taken those concepts and what I’ve learned throughout Babson, and applied it to my own music. As an independent artist, I have my own kind of independent label that I put stuff out on, but in order to have the reach that a bigger company would have, I partner with other musicians and community members.”

These partnerships come in the many shapes and forms of brand endorsements, consulting for other musicians, and utilizing his innovative fan base that was inspired by a research project Kent completed in his Babson days.

“I was doing a lot of research at the time on cooperatives and collectives as a different means of doing business and a different exit strategy. A lot of people talk about going public or selling their company, but making a co-op is also a really cool thing because it gives ownership back to the people and the employees.”

He continued, “So I thought, how can I do that in music? Cooperatives have a lot of rules involved, but collectives don’t, so I started this thing called The Collective in which people could invest in my career from the very beginning. This allowed me to jump right into working as a musician full-time by playing and building shows, which brought me to a level where I was making enough money from shows.”

“You don’t usually do that. A lot of the time musicians get stuck in this Catch-22 of wanting to be a full-time musician but not being able to afford it, so they get a job waiting tables, bartending, to the point where they never really become a full-time musician. And when you do something full-time, you get better at it than everyone else. That kind 10,000 hours thing. So The Collective allowed me to do just that, and allowed my fans in the beginning to have a say and voice in what I do. So they actually voted on all the decisions I’ve made including picking all my album artwork, what singles should be off record, that sort of thing.”

But despite how smooth it all sounded, Kent notes it wasn’t that easy. Especially his decision of choosing the entrepreneurial road over the other Babson-esque end of the platform of corporate Fortune 500/“Big Four” life. One of the songs he wrote around graduation, “Isabella” details that tough decision through a theoretical situation of a pretty gal that works in the cubicle next door that he asks out for coffee, the “road not taken” sort of song.

But besides from being that guy going into Boston on the weekends to record his own songs, Kent otherwise lived a “normal” Babson college kid life. He founded Green Housing, Babson’s first sustainable-focused housing that was just recently disbanded; he hosted SODAs (The Nineties was the theme); and The Babson Free Press even got a photo from him to prove it.

Overall Babson’s education, opportunities and experiences offered have been focal parts in bringing Kent to where he is today. His advice to current Babson students who are also nervous about taking that step to really pursue one’s passion as a career is:

“Do it. If you do what you love you’ll find a way to make it happen. Everyone at Babson is given an unique education that a lot of people don’t get. And that makes you able to turn your passion into a job. It’s hard work, but when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like hard work. And if you fail, at least you’ve tried. Right now is the ideal time; you don’t have kids, you’re not married, you’re at the perfect life point to just take a shot, make it happen and use that entrepreneurial mindset to do it.”

“Also utilize the Babson alumni network! It’s a small group of people, but it has been so helpful for me, and everyone truly wants to help each other succeed. Get coffee with them, pick their brain. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Well in that case, Babson students, do try to get over the intimidating amount of press, music, albums, and success surrounding Mr. Jamie Kent himself, and just reach out. Maybe he’ll give business tips, maybe he’ll serenade you, either way… It’s a win-win.

By: Lydia Stetson ’19

 Jamie Kent, Babson Alum ‘09, shared his experience about entrepreneurship in the music industry during his visit to Babson on September 30, 2016.
Jamie Kent, Babson Alum ‘09, shared his experience about entrepreneurship in the music industry during his visit to Babson on September 30, 2016.

Jessamyn Lovell, “crazy artist,” displayed in Hollister

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The first picture of Erin Hart that Jessamyn received from a private investigator.
J. Lovell is a photographer, visual artist and a lecturer in the art and art History Department of New Mexico University.
J. Lovell is a photographer, visual artist, and lecturer in the Art History Department of New Mexico University.

“Crazy artist seeks revenge,” an online comment reads. The comment is a response to Jessamyn Lovell’s art installation “Dear Erin Hart,” on display in Hollister Gallery, which illustrates the story of a woman from San Francisco who stole her identity.

Why do people steal? Well, one does not need to be a psychologist to answer: people steal because others possess something that they want and that they do not have. In this case, these thefts, either of money, or a car, or a pair of sunglasses, become in some sense reasonable. But what if someone steals somebody’s identity? It is not like they don’t have their own. So what is the reason behind this crime?

In order to understand, one would need to visit San Francisco in 2009, where, in a shopping mall, someone stole Jessamyn Lovell’s wallet. Obviously, this experience was not very pleasant to Lovell, but it also did not seem like the end of the world to her. The cost of that crime was just a wallet and a bill for the telephone call she needed to make in order to freeze her credit cards. However, for Lovell, that “regular” crime was destined to result into something bigger than a spoiled day and a phone bill. That single petty crime turned out to be a disaster, an inspiration, and a life-changing expe- rience all at the same time.

In 2009, her wallet was stolen, and she froze all her credit cards and continued with her life. In 2011, she got a call from a police depart- ment with a question about whether or not she let anyone use her I.D.

The first picture of Erin Hart that Jes- samyn received by a private investigator.
The first picture of Erin Hart that Jessamyn received by a private investigator.

And, by the time she had responded “no,” understanding hit her: with her wallet, the San Francisco thief had stolen her identity. “A woman named Erin Coleen Hart was arrested a few days earlier attempting to check into a hotel in San Francisco using my I.D.,” Lovell said in her 2015 book Dear Erin Hart,.

After that, Lovell found out that Hart had also committed a couple of minor crimes. And, because she was using Lovell’s I.D., Lovell needed to fly to Oakland to defend herself in the court for the crimes she had never committed. After the hearing, as she walked “freely from the courtroom,” she “got incredibly angry” at her thief and decided to find her at any cost.

Lovell started her research online independently, but did not achieve any significant results. So she hired a private investigator, who in found Hart’s location within a week. Then, because Lovell could not let the situation go anymore, she decided to go to San Francisco and “see Erin Hart with my own eyes, photograph her and possibly learn something about who she was,” as she describes in Dear Erin Hart,.

A lot of people judged Lovell for this private investigation, with some calling her a “crazy artist” and claiming her photos were illegal because Hart did not consent to their use.

The first moment Jessamyn Lovell saw Erin Hart in real life after she was released from jail.
The first moment Jessamyn Lovell saw Erin Hart in real life after she was released from jail.

Yet Lovell claims the process was cathartic. “I started to gain an- other unexpected feeling—empathy. She seemed like a very lonely person,” Lovell said in a presentation at Babson. “I actually have seen myself in her. Like her life is an alternate future I could have had if I did not go to college.”

“I could not stop thinking about her for such a long time. So I tried to call or meet her. But I did not know what to say. So I decided to write her a letter.”

What was the reason for Hart’s crime? One guess would be dissatisfaction—not with yourself, but with who you are to others, and with how people treat and see you. This raises another question about the project: Should Lovell blame Erin Hart? Should we?

Museum of Fine Arts unveils #mfaNOW

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has revealed their #mfaNOW program, which showcases recent acquisitions to their Linde
Family Wing for Contemporary Art and hosts free all-night parties. The all-night parties will feature food trucks, lawn games, live music, DJ’s, art making, artist demonstrations, and
programming such as star gazing in the MFA’s beautiful courtyard and nighttime jogs through Boston. The next event will be the MFA Overnight: College Edition and will take place
on October 14-15 from 9:00pm to 9:00am. Guests can come and go as they please.

The recent installations, “Political Intent” and “Beyond Limits,” are powerful collections of contemporary art that make statements about today’s society. “Political Intent” explores tensions from slavery, the subject of mosques and Islam, and complex identities such as those in the LGBTQ community. “Beyond Limits” houses many abstract works that
challenge traditional interpretations of line, color and form. Andy Warhol’s Red Disaster (1963, 1985) shows a repeating electric chair on a red background, commenting on the power of media and how we have become accustomed to gruesome images in everyday life.

“UH-OH: Frances Stark 1991-2015” showcases an artist designated by the Los Angeles Times as “the visual poet laureate of the Internet age.” Stark’s imaginative mind examines the world in a way relatable to the college students of today. The exhibition includes such pieces as Cat Videos and Stark’s “chorus girl” in A Torment of Follies (2008), in which a girl’s dress is made up of an optical illusion. One particularly striking piece is a video installation set to a West Coast gangsta rap soundtrack and
features images such Tupac and Renaissance paintings. The piece is called Bobby Jesus’s Alma Mater b/w Reading the Book of David and/or Paying Attention is Free (2013). Even
the name is jumbled and chaotic.

Attendees of the #mfaNOW overnightevents will have a unique opportunity to see Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) at
night. The video masterpiece took three years of research and editing to compile and features thousands of bits from television and film history over a 24-hour period. During any time
of day, The Clock displays the accurate time on screen in a section from a show or movie. It becomes an actual timepiece and blurs the line between the screen and reality. Guests have
been known to sit for hours watching The Clock, in an intimate examination of media.

As always, Babson College students can enter the MFA on any day for free by presenting their student ID card, but be sure not to miss the amazing events that will be taking place during
#mfaNOW. A schedule is provided below and more information can be found at: www.mfa.org/programs/mfanow

mfaNOW Overnight: College Edition
9 pm, Friday, October 14, to 9 am, Saturday, October 15, 2016
mfaNOW Overnight: State of the Party
9 pm, Friday, November 4, to 9 am, Saturday, November 5, 2016
mfaNOW Overnight: Last Call
9 pm, Friday, December 9, to 9 am, Saturday, December 10, 2016