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Brown Bag reveals digital opportunities

By Megan Whalen

Aspiring young musicians, composers, artists and other students at the College attended Sean Hickey’s Brown Bag lecture,  Digital Strategy: New Media and the Musician Entrepreneur on Friday, Feb. 8 in the Mayo Concert Hall.

Hickey is a prominent composer and national sales and business development manager at Naxos of America. He began his career at a record business where he became the assistant manager.
He then worked at a competing distribution company, Alegro, as a sales representative for a few years in Detroit, where he is originally from.

For the past 10 years, Hickey has worked with the company of Naxos, where he began as a sales representative before he was promoted to his current position.
In addition to his accomplishments on the administrative side of the record business, Hickey is also a successful and renown composer.

The last movement of Hickey’s Trio Avatar was beautifully performed by the College’s Dean of Arts and Communications John Laughton on clarinet, Professor Tomoko Kanamaru on piano and Professor Ruotao Mao on violin.

Hickey shows students how to launch their careers. (Vicki Wang / Photo Assistant)

Hickey’s inspiration for the piece was partially drawn from Stravinsky, as well as his rhythmic exploration. Because Hickey works on the business end of music recordings and composes as well, he has learned to balance both aspects in his life. He explained that he is fortunate to have flexibility in his job and can duck away when inspiration hits.

“I worked on a symphony in 5- and 10-minute segments,” Hickey said.
Hickey also discussed some of the challenges that are faced by musicians, recording artists and composers in today’s society.
“When you walk out with a music degree you say, ‘What the heck are you going to do now?’” Hickey said.

Fortunately, he offered insight into the music recording profession and how to become a well-known artist.

“You as an independent composer, musician or artist are better equipped to promote your project than anyone else,” Hickey said. He stressed the importance of building a base, or networking, to develop a name in the professional world.

“I think that it is actually important because in classes we are discussing the networking of future teachers. We have to network to get our names out as far as jobs go,” said Thomas Ploskonka, a sophomore music education major.

One example of a social media success comes from a musician named Eric Whitacre, who used social media to build his base and spread his name to others. His virtual choir that released on YouTube in 2012, received groundbreaking hits.

Whiticare explained how an artist must ask themselves, “Who are the labels that will be my target? Who are the people that will be my target?”

However, Hickey emphasized, “The most important thing you can do is attend concerts.” This way it increases the possibilities of networking for young musicians. Networking can also be achieved through developing a website.

Hickey showed his own website as an example, stressing the importance of creating access to your recorded music. It is a way to reach people.

Hickey assured the young artists in the audience that there is a promising profession in music, as long as they are motivated and driven to promote themselves in today’s world of music and sharing music.



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