Tanja Orning.jpeg

Art and commerce

Entrepreneurship can be defined as spotting opportunities and doing something about them, says Tanja Orning.

On 27 and 28 April, the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) hosted its first international conference on entrepreneurship in music. The conference aimed to explore the relationship between music as art and music as business. The goal was to further the discussion around entrepreneurship by examining the conflict between artistic processes and commercial considerations.

“Entrepreneurship is a tricky term because it has its roots in finance and business. For that reason we can’t just apply it uncritically to the arts. Some artists and musicians struggle with it because they make certain associations with the commercial aspects of entrepreneurship,” Orning claims. She is working on a postdoctoral project at CEMPE (Centre of Excellence in Music Performance Education) at the NMH in which she investigates artistic entrepreneurship.

Conflicting factors

She points to the conflict between art on the one hand and commerce – business and economics – on the other. “These two realms espouse very different values and are not always easy to reconcile,” says Orning.

“The music profession is entrepreneurial by its very nature in that it involves rehearsing something that you then perform in a concert. There’s always this recurring cycle of preparing something before presenting it to the public. You already have the ability to initiate something, have an idea and launch a project,” Orning points out.

Common features of the traditional artist and traditional entrepreneur are that both are willing to take risks, both are creative, both seek opportunities and resources, and both are often personally involved in the projects they are working on. In that sense, entrepreneurship is an integral part of artistic practice.

“One interesting point is that there are a lot of entrepreneurial aspects to being an artist, but the artists and musicians themselves are reluctant to adopt the term.”

Lack of research

“It’s still a new concept in the music profession. Artistic or musical entrepreneurship remains uncharted territory, therefore. So far I’ve been focusing mostly on economic issues, because it’s easier to adopt things such as business plans and other commercial aspects of the music industry.”

The term entrepreneurship originally incorporated the pleasure of creating something, of having a vision and getting stuck in. With her research, Orning wants to establish whether the term can also be extended to include an artistic aspect and whether it is an appropriate term to use in an artistic context.

Last updated: 4. April 2018