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.

The Empty Space Theater presents “Falsettoland”

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Photos by Tatiana Trauslen

12186667_10103376555323009_6774822362283800338_oOver Halloween weekend, The Empty Space Theater (TEST) produced Falsettoland, an off-Broadway hit musical about homosexual romance in 1980’s New York. The musical focuses on Marvin, a gay man who has left his wife and son for his ex-lover, Whizzer. Whizzer becomes afflicted with a mysterious illness—which we know today as AIDS, but which was not yet named in 1981—and all seven characters are forced to reevaluate their relationships with each other as they come to understand what “family” really means.

The cast consisted of one Wellesley College student, two Babson College students, a 14-year-old from Sharon Middle School, and three local actors. Together with a renowned director from Chicago, they produced a four-day show.

Starring:

Anastasia Perreault as Dr. Charlotte

Chandler Cummings as Trina

Jack Price as Jason

Jacob Rosenbaum as Whizzer

Jordan Cohen as Marvin

Nash Hightower as Mendel

Olivia Belitsky as Cordelia

Director: Tom Mullen

Musical director: Sandra Graham

Assistant director: Kai Haskins

Stage Manager: Brandon Kam

Assistant Stage Manager: Sheen Hui

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2016 – a music rant mostly about Kanye and Frank Ocean but also a few other things

Well!  We’re nearly a month and a half into 2017, and about 30 days (and as many scandals) into the Trump regime.  2016 already feels like a distant memory – but lest we forget the good times, let’s take a moment to consider some of the music that made up the soundtrack for that utter dumpster fire of a year.  

It’s been a year since the dramatically overhyped Life of Pablo dropped exclusively on Tidal.  TLOP was – in my opinion – not good.  Sure “30 Hours” is a hype song to get dressed to, “Ultralight Beam” is tight, but is also really just a Chance the Rapper track.  “No More Parties in LA” is similarly fun thanks little to Kanye, but mostly just because Kendrick has a Midas touch when it comes to features.  Critical realism aside, TLOP was undeniably an important album for 2016.  In a year filled with surprise drops (to the extent that the final major album to drop of the year – RTJ3 – took to Portlandia to comment on the nature of ‘drops’), TLOP is a brilliant example of what excessive hype can do to an album.  By the time it actually was released, it would have been nearly impossible for it to live up to the expectations.  

Stansbury finds solace in spending time with clay

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Photo courtesy of Bradley Darling

Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” vibrates throughout the room. I am in a state of complete tranquility. My hands are wet with clay. I can feel the soft, grainy texture between my fingertips, almost as if I have regressed back to my childhood, playing in the mud pit, throwing myself about in the clay without a care in the world.

This is the best part of my day: coming into the art room in the evening, spending hours completely engrossed in my own little world.

My apron is chalked with clay dust, my pink Vans have remnants of the clay that splatters around as I put my hands to work. What will I make today? I will let the clay decide.

Most often, I don’t begin throwing with much of a plan in mind. My best work has always come from just letting my hands and the clay move freely in a symbiotic relationship. All I need are my two most important instruments, my left and right hands.

I have created vessels of all types and many awkward shapes that cannot be identified. I love to bask in the relaxation that comes with being in the art room. I love the quiet environment, the freedom that I have to express myself in any way that I want.

The finished product is always the best part of the process. Knowing that I put everything I had into a piece of work really makes my creations important.

I get excited to see it come out of the kiln: fingers crossed that the glaze on the final product looks good! I always peer into the kiln, still hot from the firing, grinning from ear to ear, ready to see what I have created.

For some people, art is intimidating. Some people ask, “We’re at business school, why should I waste my time in the art room?” Consider this: When else do you have an excuse purposefully cover yourself in clay? When else do you have an opportunity to enter a world where there are only two actors: just you and the wheel?

Nothing else matters when you are throwing. For me, wheel throwing and ceramics is an escape. It is a place I can go to get away from all of the stress of college schoolwork, homesickness, and frustration.

Today, I will make a bowl. Today, I will find my escape.