[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/14/art.arnold.ypwr.jpg caption=”Aaron Arnold, 29, is the founder of Music is My Business.”]No matter how old we are, no matter what stage we’re at in life, we all tend to wonder, “If money didn’t matter, what would I do?” Aaron Arnold had those thoughts. And he’s acted on them.
After Arnold graduated from college, he was fast-tracked into an executive position at a major PR firm. He had money, but he was miserable. The real answer to his nagging thoughts about his true passion was music. So shortly after he got married, Arnold took a major leap to a nonpaying (to the dismay of his wife) internship with Bad Boy Records.
He worked for free to soak up all he could as an assistant to record producer and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs. After a year of grooming, the 29-year-old went on his own to start Music is My Business. “I wanted to change the music industry for the better,” Arnold said. He now handles budding artists, with the goal of changing the way business is done in the music industry.
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview
What an act of Faith and Courage it takes to ultimately decide to leave a fast-track, well-paying career and act on your passion of beginning Music Is My Business. What would be your words of inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs who dream of pursuing their passion just like you did, but can’t convince themselves to “go for it”?
Hey, what new artists are you introducing into the industry?
What has been your greatest accomplishment / experinece thus far in your professional journey and how has it shaped your approach to life and the music business?
Also, what advice would you have for young entrepreneurs looking to get into the music business?
How did you raise the funds necessary to start your company?
What are some tips that you would give someone when it comes to networking/managing and building relationships within the entertainment industry.
How are you changing the way business is conducted in the music industry?
If you couldn’t make the sacrifice to take a non-paying internship to groom yourself in the music industry, what would have been your plan B to get where you are today?
So proud of you…What changes are you bringing to the music industry…??
This Is Big Dude U Got My Support All The Way See Ya @ The Top
What do you feel will really pick up sales in this sluggish music industry?
I am soooo feeling your situation. Have been doing the same job and I say the word JOB and not profession for over 13 years and I am at a point in my life (almost 40) that I want to do something I enjoy. It’s not so much about the money as it is about the happiness and the joy of success. I too am wanting to get into a music producing and screen/stage directing career so any advice you can offer on where I should start is much appreciated.
How or in what way did you have to come to terms with the idea of an unpaid intership after marriage and college? What was the easiest part and what was the hardest? How long did it take for you to establish yourself after your year spent with Diddy?
We need more social entrepreneurs than music ones. We already have Diddy and L.A Reid and Russel etc. We need young people to change black communities and inspire a more productive, intelligent vibrant culture. I hate to sound like I am playing your success down (and congratulations by the way) but man shall not live by music alone.
Aaron- I applaud you in your decision to follow your passion. I am currently in a simular position currently and have deceided to go for it. Reading your story has served as an inspiration for me to move forward and continue my journey.
Question: With an overall decline in CD sales and illegal downloading, how is it going to be possible for record companies and artist to preserve and grow revenues? With this in mind, what do you see as the next big thing on the horizon that will change the industry?
I wish you continued success in your journey and hope to work with you some day . Be Blessed!
I also want to pursue a career in the Music/Entertainment Industry. You are an inspiration! To have worked with one of the best must have been a humbling experience. Congrats and much success!
I’ve been racking my brain for months since coming across you – your story and work is so inspiring. I understand that you are still getting out there but one must ask, what makes YOU so different or unique that you are featured in/on so many things, yet you’re still unknown? What is generating your buzz? What exactly have you done that would make every day people want to look you up and be apart of your movement? Do you think you are where you are because you did work for Diddy or have you really worked hard enough to be deserving oft he raves and reviews you are receiving?
ps – Aaron is my role model 🙂
The Urban Zone – http://www.theurban-zone.com
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Amazing! I am truly inspired. Proud of you!
Your story is very inspiring!! If you don’t mind, I have 2 questions: 1- What are a few things that you learned from your internship that persuaded you to start your own company? and 2- How will your company change the way business is done in the music industry?
What was it that made you finally decide to withdraw from the rat race?
I am so proud of you and a black man doing something with your life. My questions to you are where do you see your company expanding into ultimately in the next 5 – 10 years and what kind of words of encouragement would you give to our young generation trying to decide what to do in life for their future and us who are not working in jobs that are fulfilling? Wish much success!!
Proud of you and all that you have accomplished thus far in your young career. Keep up the good work and continued sucess!
This is a intense question. I was asked a similar question a few days ago. What would you do with an extra $250,000?
Nothing. First I’m not that lucky, as I realize that anything extra is always more, and more isn’t always better.
If it’s an extra anything, is it really mine to keep? If yes, how much after taxes?
If it’s an extra $250,000, what happened to the first $250,000? Just asking.
In recent experiences, I learn that money isn’t the root of evil itself, but the love of money. Which makes sense because, if persons are willing to conncoct any and almost every scheme possible just to support a lavish over the top lifestyle, it makes you wonder. Who do love?
there are people in the world that inspite of being ridiculed and tormented , create change for those in need. They would rather not be in the headlines for possibly believing that bravery isn’t necessary to happily.
As far as charity goes, to make a public display and broadcast your your every move, how you are making the difference in others lives by what you do and how you do it. is a little short of heroic.
ordinary people struggle everyday and are told that they’re crazy, insignificant, and outdated, as with the passing fads of a scientific technology product.
I’ve been in situations where step parents (father, mother), would turn the biological parent against the child in attempts to secure what they think is rightfully theirs.
I’ve seen husbands who view the wife as a money cow, and that she deserves to work two jobs day and night for a husband who comes to the conclusion that his wife owes him everything for the psychological damage of his abusive father, and passive mother.
i can’t say that without money the world will be better, because in my opinion if the world went a day without money, for many it would probably be entertaining to see how people really feel about money. without the impulsive surge of spending too much, or the rush you get from squeezing money out of a fool. The Jonses’ would laugh because of not keeping up the pace.
I believe that money wasn’t always called money. And whatever it was called Im guessing that the value of it was not that high. By the time the concept of money materialized, peoples mixed emotions of money would be enough to act as a decoy for those who probably know what money is and how it’s not meant to be spent.
In any case money isn’t a bad or evil thing in itself. Neither should people think that it’s a crime to have a comfortable lifestyle, or apologize for their seemingly lavish lifestyle.
It’s about what would you do about it and what led you to feeling like this.
I got 1 questions I just graduated from an audio school and got my degree but now I wanna write and engineer on different peoples albums where do I start?
I cannot believe Aaron’s story is told under the pretext of, “If money didn’t matter, what would you do?” If this is so, why is Aaron pimped out in his picture to appear as though he is very wealthy? Further, I am sure Aaron did not work for “free” for Mr. Combs. Perhaps Aaron can share with us some of the perks that he received for his “free” work. (If in reality he did work for “free”, he is nothing short of stupid. Why do charity work for one of the wealthiest individuals in the music industry?)
CNN needs a reality check. Why not do a “if money didn’t matter story” on the hundreds of recent college graduates who forego high paying jobs to work for Teach for America? Or the countless medical students who burden themselves with thousands of dollars of debt just to work as an international aid doctors. These are truly the individuals who exemply the mantra, “if money didn’t matter.”
And for those individuals who have written praise in their comments, educate yourself and check out the webpage for Aaron’s company. It states, “Aaron was part of Sean “Diddy” Combs Executive Team.” Either Aaron is embellishing his role, or we are not getting all the details in this CNN story. I also enjoy the section “Million Dollar DJs.”
Aaron is simply another player in the game, and CNN was foolish enough to give him publicity. Do yourself a favor, and go to Teach for America’s website and check out some real young people who rock.
How can I get signed to your label? I sing
I am going to be a junior @ Hampton University next year. Right now I am interning with NBC and have interned with Radio One and a consulting firm’s PR department before. I recently started my own blog, and in the DC area, you can say I am a medium of information for many people. So my question is, with what people say is “a foundation for success” already laid in front of me, what do you believe is the next step to continue this committment to progression in my life and how to use it to enhance the experience of members of my community?
Are there internship opportunities and how does one acquire an internship with your company?
These entrepreneurs have tapped into how to have the life of their dreams while working at what they truly love. They are creating their lives on purpose and with purpose. I am inspired by how these stories give people of all ages permission to follow our true passions no matter what the race, age or gender. I will certainly share these stories with my students, friends and clients.
Double A I’m really proud of you. For those of you who wish to tear down this young man’s accomplishments, remember “you can not curse what the Lord has already blessed” Aaron you inspire me to always maintain my high aspirations.
HOw do you know when an artist or group just has “it”? that was a rhetorical question….the answer is @
To God be the Glory!!!
Very proud! Its about time someone started doin’ somethin’ about the music business. From what I see and hear, the music business need good people with a good heart. Someone who really care about the artists and the direction of where music is goin’. Right on!
Peace 2 fingers.
what is best and worst about hip hop and what would you like to change.
Leaps of faith can really pay off! However, as the old adage goes, “You should leap with both feet.” Sometimes, it seems that people pursue their dreams with a sort of blind idealism, that they have the passion, but lack reason and cautiousness in their “pursuit of happiness.” With that said, what kinds of dangers/doubts did you have to acknowledge in making your leap of faith from the business world to the music world? Were you optimistic about the outcome of your move? What sorts of hardships did you have to overcome in switching career paths? Also, why did you initially pursue the path of public relations and why were you so miserable?
Encouraging for a musician to see some one in the business for the sake of music!
I agree with Jacob. Would have liked to see the title “if money didn’t matter” with a more inspiring story in an industry that is less materialistic. Fortunately, many people in the music industry are significant contributors to various charities. Seems easy for a 26 year old not to worry about money…put a family man or single mom in there and the struggle would be a little more difficult I think.
Funny — I went the opposite direction, from music to PR!
1. Creating entertainment in any medium is expensive, how does a young person get the seed money to make quality indepent media?
2. Where do you see the future of Independent Music going in the 5 years?
3. What is the future of Hip-Hop?
1. I read on your website that MIMB is involved with an UN world hunger project , partnering with Heineken. What exactly is MIMB’s role in this project, and does your involvement provide a global perspective?
2. Are you involved in any educational partnerships, such as providing internships to college students?
3. You sound like a very grounded young man. What do you think contributes to that?
Congrats on your success thus far, I am sure that your leap of faith is paying off. As internet become a more common avenue for indepedent artists to expose their talents, what do you see as the role of the main stream music company and/or label and how does your company address this issue?
what was the most important lesson that you learned from Mr. Sean Combs?
I am 24 years old and intern at Bad Boy Records. Much like your story, I left a promising career in journalism to follow my true passion — music! I am impressed and inspired by your story of taking risks and congratulate you on your successes.
My questions for you are:
“What’s the most valuable thing you learned from Mr. Combs or the Bad Boy experience that you have applied to your own business?”
“Which decision was hardest to make: Leaving your PR job to become an intern … OR … leaving your internship to start your own business? It seems like both were huge risks.”
Aaron I commend on your leap of faith and truly following your dreams. It takes a lot to step out of the social norm to march to the beat of your own drum. I am currently struggling with this. In the end of your corporate career what was the deciding factor that drove you to pursuing your dream? What pushed you? Continue to persevere! God Bless
I have known you since when and I am proud to say I know you now. Keep your head up and do your thing. May God’s blessings rest, rule, and abide in your life – for you are blessed and highly favored. Much love!
First off, Jacob’s comment has taken a very good idea for a story and twisted it. The stories outlined here is under the title “YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ROCK” not “YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR FREE”. Read it again.
A line in Aaron’s bio that asks “if money didn’t matter” did not ask “if money did not exist”. Just think if what would you do if your salary did not matter to you. Maybe you would not be where you are right now. Aaron decided to change the way the music industry does business. I am sure he could have followed the established norms and made plenty more money faster but because he asked himself that question I think he may have found his calling in the industry in which he works. That means innovation and most likely a better product for the end user.
Unfortunately or fortunately we live in a country and world that is driven by the “buck” and all of us in some way or another must get paid for the work we do. So dressing presentable as a young black executive in an industry where most of the artists admittedly dress like thugs while the execs behind the scenes are in board meetings is not “pimped out”, it is what is required.
Aaron I applaud you efforts and I am proud of you.
My question to you is “What sort of things have you done in the past to see things through when people are negative toward you or the ideas that you have for the music industry?’.
Jacob seems to be bitter and maybe just a little bit jealous. As someone who knows Aarons story personally I have to applaud him and his wife for the sacrifices the have made to see his dreams come to fruition.
You mentioned that if the want some real young people that rock to check out the Teach for America websight. You have a point that teaching is a thankless job with not very much pay but education like every other is a chosen profession. You have to commend anyone who has the courage to step out on faith and a dream.
You also made it clear that you were skeptical about his claims that he worked for free. As someone who knows he did I can tell you that there was no salary. This experience would be no different from a TEACHER who has to intern for no pay. As for the perks that one could recieve by working for Puffy (for free), the contacts that you make could be very beneficial in the music business. He has worked with so many people who are indepently employed or work with other labels. Finally, Aarons pimped out look is less about a photo and more about who he is. Besides I was always taught to dress for the job you want not the one you got.
To Jacob stop hatin and do some of the wonderful things you seem to be destined for. You are obviously an intelligent individual because your comments were well thought out. Use that to do great things, so we see you on here. Be Blessed!! In closing, BIG UPS AARON. We are proud of you!! You are an inspriation to all young people. ROO Dogg!!
I have some questions for you.
Bad Boy is a progressive company with a lot of opportunities to professionally grow. While working for Sean Combs, when and what made you decide to branch off and start your own label?
What is the best advice for upcoming people who share the same dream on creating their own label one day? And where should they start at?
Today, there are many major and independent labels, what makes MIMB different from the others?
1. As an young, aspiring, entrepreneur myself, I was curious about what difficulty (if any) did you have in starting your own company? How did you raise capital? What methods did you use to create brand awareness and market your company?
2. What did take away most from your internship with Bad Boy Records, and furthermore, as an assistant from Sean Combs? How do you feel that these experiences enhanced your ability to run your own company?
3. Being as young and successful as you are, do you still receive apprehension from prospective clients based on your age? What do you feel is the best way for up and coming music business professionals to combat the stigma that youth means that one is unprepared to handle the business world?
4. Do you ever find that success in one section of your company easily translates into another? With a company based in music, television, and brand marketing, do you ever see a domino effect?
5. When you look at talent scouting, what are key factors that you look for before you sign them? Are there certain intangibles you find just by being around the prospective signee?
1. Did you always have an idea of what you wanted to do?
2. Did you always want to start your own business?
3. What were the key actions during the early stages of your business that were constructive? How about those that weren’t?
4. What did you do wrong? What could have been done better? What are you still working to improve with MIMB and personally?
5. How did working for Bad Boy shape your decision making ability for the future?
6. What was your thought process in taking the leap to start your own business rather than staying with the security of working for someone else?
7. When in a career do you feel is a good time to start your own business, how much experience do you recommend before doing it?
8. Is it hard to have other people work for you? Do you struggle to trust others to represent your creative direction?
9. When you were looking at the industry from the outside, did you still feel then that you could compete professionally? How did you turn that feeling into action?
10. What is more important, passion or knowledge?
11. What is your day to day like?
12. What is important day to day in the running of a successful business?
13. Is your business a representation of you as a person? Do you feel this is the same for most entrepreneurs?
14. Do you have a NEED to have your own company; i.e. did you find it hard creatively to work for someone else?
15. Have your vision and goals changed through the years?
16. Were you scared or apprehensive when starting up the business?
17. How many hours/days of the week do you work?
18. What is the image you want the business to represent?
19. Do you plan on using your image as a face of the business?
20. What is important in reaching the success that a young person is not usually expected to?
Dear Jacob…thanks for interest and I respect your opinion…below is an answer to some of your statements
* Money didn’t matter to me because I made money but wasn’t happy. I will admit to getting paid…I was paid with access and knowledge that the
Bad Boy executives gave me. When I decided to work at Bad Boy records I had
just gotten married three days prior, passed on my honeymoon and flew back
to NYC and begin interning. My wife was in med-school so we were
* Also please understand, just because you work for someone who is
wealthy, it doesn’t entitle you to that wealth (monetarily speaking).
Anything worth doing requires sacrifice, even teaching. We all do
internships or some sort of apprenticeships to gain experience and to
showcase our skill-set and to learn.
* Maybe I was stupid for working for free but it turned out to be one
the smartest moves I made, so I am fortunate
* Regarding teaching…Music Is My Business is launching MIMB Academy
with Clark-Atlanta University in 2009 to educate people at the collegiate
level on the Business of music vs just the “entertainment” side
I thank you for your sincere concern and hope that you will continue to
follow Music Is My Business, CNN and other young-people who are contributing
Kevin…thanks for your question…
* I have always believed by the time you wait for someone to give you
something, you could have made a million dollars yourself. When I first
started my company I looked for seed money and had several meetings but
didn’t want to give my company away as I didn’t want to compromise my
vision. So I did what many people do…I figured out how to generate revenue
on my own. Don’t look for others to give you anything because they
won’t…not right away. Build your brand, create results and then everyone
will come to you. Don’t chase them, make them chase you.
* The future of independent music is BRIGHT!!!. The internet and
technology has allowed the “little people” to compete with the “big people”.
It’s not about money or budgets alone, but the authenticity of the artist;
the music and then how it’s positioned to the fans. There’s never been a
better time to become an independent artist. We are a generation of
independent thinkers…music often reflects the times in which we live in.
* The future of hip hop…I think it will continue to evolve. Hip-Hop
as always been about evolution and authenticity. And despite it being
watered-down and over commercialized I believe the movement of Hip Hop will
always come full circle. Hip Hop is one the most power movements the world
has ever scene.
CEO, Music Is My Business
Michael D…thanks for your questions
* Michael…I had several challenges in starting my company…I didn’t know what I was doing when I first started, lol. But I had a vision I believed in so I kept moving, learned from my failures, then I got a break and things began to click. As a young two-year company, I still face challenges but as a company we are just more seasoned to deal with the issues that arise
* Bad Boy was great. It always had the feel of an indi-label so the
entrepreneurial spirit was rampant. I developed life-long friendships of
people who genuinely cared and people who mentored me. Working for Mr. Combs I was able to see what it takes to be great. Not Just good but great. His intensity is unmatched; he was always looking to position whatever he did as groundbreaking. I have a long way to go before I can call myself “successful” but I will be the next generation of executives to influence music and business
* I always get flack because of my age; people thinking you are too
young to execute etc. However, if you know what you are speaking about and have the ability to make people money…people will take you serious eventually. It’s about results when it’s all said and done. Regarding coming up in the music business…my journey was different from most. I don’t think there is a wrong way or right way…if you have a vision, then execute that vision. Just always remain humble and learn from the past but don’t hold on to it.
* When I was looking for our first artist…we looked for an authentic
sound, their look and just who they are as a person. Our first artist is a
folk-rock singer or as he likes to say a “skinny white kid from Georgia”.
For us being a young and small company on the rise…it’s even more
important that the artist fit with our brand, our vision as they will
ultimately be a key extension of our brand. Beyond that, they have to be as hungry as I am. Finally, must be patient because throwing an artist out there too early ensures disaster…we are about building and nurturing, so being smart is key because we only have one shot.
Nobody is more impressed or proud than me.
Keep up the good werk Son!!!
P.S. Where’s my money?!!!!!!!! 🙂
Aaron has agreed to answer a lot of questions we didn’t get to when he was here. So, if there are more questions, Aaron is cool with continuing the “after party”…keep it coming!
I am an instrumental music teacher in Maryland. I was touched by your poise, intellect, and supreme modesty. No doubt, your parents had a serious impact on your world view. I intend to share your video comments with my elementary school instrumental students this year.
Your blossoming success is a testament to the idea of planting seeds, being patient and persistent. These are the underpinnings of good teaching and parenting. What additional advice can you offer to parents of young children in order to prepare them to embrace life as you have?
How wonderful it is that you have accomplished so much so early in your life. God bless you, as you continue this amazing journey.
Being I am not a parent, not sure what advice I can offer but my parents were very instrumental in my development.
1) My mom instilled in me not to have fear, to take risk
2) My Dad taught me to be persistent and how to be resourceful
Both of them together I came out ok. The rest were blessings received from above. I would always encourage any teacher (parent) to allow their students to explore and understand the options out there. At the same time, teach them the discipline that comes with achieving these goals.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAron!!! What’s up from your peeps at The Music Group…still up in the Factory…keep your head up and keep doing your thing!
Great job! Its great to see fellow FAMU grads make it big.
That was a courageous decision that you made. Good that you had the passion afloat. A lot of people when they get to a position in their current job, which is not their passion, with all the money and comfort would settle down with what they got than pursuing their passion. Unfortunately for me with all this economic slowdown, things have made harder for me to get into the field that I am passionate about.
How encouraging! Great Man! It is what anybody has to do if he wants to accomplish something in life. Thanks for the practical example.
This is a great example of what is right with Dreams!!!