Innovation and Entrepreneurship

   Duke University  

My I&E Story

Hello! My name is Logan Welborn, and I am a 

Duke senior from Winston Salem, NC. In choosing

a college, I knew that I needed a school that

fostered both my academic interests and my

passion for creativity. Duke was the best of both

worlds. From the day I arrived on campus for the pARTS pre-orientation program, I knew I had made the perfect choice. During my time at Duke I have performed with student arts groups and gained critical thinking skills through my Public Policy major and Global Health minor. I am fascinated by the intersection of policy and creative industries. History and politics have always interested me, and I love the Public Policy major's emphasis on problem solving skills. I see many parallels between the work of public policy and performance. Policymakers must be able to think on their feet, to improvise in critical situations, and to create something of their own. Furthermore, policymakers provide a voice for the unheard. Performers do the same on stage. They share the stories of real people, elevating their message through creative means. The Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate blends the problem solving skills with creative processes. Additionally, the Media, Arts, and Entertainment pathway’s courses represent the intersection of my academic and extracurricular interests. My I&E courses have challenged me to think about the business behind creation, the enterprise within entertainment. I have learned to think on my feet and apply my creativity to a corporate setting. I have worked with the Center for Creative Economy, a non-profit in Winston Salem that provides inception-stage training to creative entrepreneurs. I’ve raised $100,000 in grant funding, developed a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative, and created strategic marketing campaigns for the company’s accelerators. Aside from academics and work, I am a musician at heart. I release original music as a signed artist with Small Town Records, Duke’s student run record label. Last year I had the opportunity to perform at the Apollo Theater for their Amateur Night competition! What people may not know about me is that I use music as a platform for advocacy. As a sibling of a child with a rare genetic disorder, I have seen first hand the power of music to inspire and raise awareness. I have learned that a song may inspire a doctor to find a cure, a lobbyist to advocate for people with epilepsy, or a parent to find the hope to persevere. Though my varied interests do not converge in one defined career path, my ultimate goal is to continue my passion for storytelling. I strive to use my voice to bring light to underrepresented stories and diverse perspectives.

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Coursework

Legal Issues in the Performing Arts

This elective course explores topics such as copyright, discrimination, obscenity and other laws relevant to the performing arts. Students are challenged to examine how the legal system can benefit or harm artists based on judicial interpretation of intellectual property rights.

Artifact:

For my term paper, I decided to investigate Taylor Swift's legal battles against her former record label and the policies put in place that limited her rights to her own songs.

Reflection:

This course was one of the most practical and beneficial courses I have taken while at Duke. I learned about copyright, intellectual property, and other legal topics within the umbrella of entertainment. I was fascinated at the intersection of two seemingly different fields. With the concepts I learned in this class, I bettered myself as an artist by securing copyright for my original songs and thoroughly examining performance or royalty agreements before signing them. Because of this course, I am well equipped to advocate for myself as an artist.

My professor, Dan Ellison, also serves as the advisor for Hoof 'n' Horn, Duke's student-run musical theater group. I am the co-chair of Inclusion and Accessibility for this group, and professor Ellison's course equipped me to be an advocate for accessible performances for audience members with disabilities. 

Strategies for innovation and entrepreneurship

The keystone I&E course examines the components needed to launch an entrepreneurial venture. Topics such as need identification, lean methodology, strategy, financing and resource structures, and marketing and communication tools.

Artifact:

My team delineated opportunities and problems presented in real-world business ventures. I was responsible for providing qualitative analyses following each case examination.

Reflection:

Kathy Amato's keystone course instilled in me the basic principles of innovation and entrepreneurship and gave me accounting skills applicable to both professional and personal finances. After completing the course, I find myself analyzing the value propositions of the businesses I frequent, thinking about their annual maintenance fees, revenue, and research and development costs. Because of the keystone, I approach my own career as an entertainer through an entrepreneurial lens, thinking about the ways that I can market my talents as a profitable business strategy.

Additionally, I connected with Sonny Byrd, Duke Class of ____, who became my I&E mentor. Mr. Byrd is a venture capitalist with a passion for music. He was involved with Small Town Records during his time at Duke as well! Reflections from my conversations with Sonny can be found here: 

Introduction to performing arts management

This elective course covered core concepts of arts administration including branding, fundraising and government and grant support, programming and curation, arts advocacy, and community engagement. Students engaged with guest speakers and vsiting artists who provided a model for a career in the creative industries. 

Artifact:

My team's final project was a strategic communications plan for Manifold Recording, a state-of-the-art studio in Pittsboro, NC. I utilized Bob Harlow's Strategies of Audience Engagement to create a two-fold marketing strategy.

Reflection:

Eric Oberstein’s “Introduction to Performing Arts Management” has been one of my favorite classes at Duke. This course has been the most applicable course to my intended career path in entertainment or arts administration. Professor Oberstein challenged me to think of solutions to issues facing arts organizations and to explore other forms of performing arts other than theater and music. Additionally, I learned how different income streams impact arts organizations' development initiatives. 

Professor Oberstein brought in many guest speakers and to our class, many of whom I connected with after the course. Bobby Rosenbloum and Harsha Murthy are both Duke alums who work in creative industries. Their mentorship has inspired me to also pursue a career in arts and entertainment.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Capstone

The I&E Capstone class was a culmination of my previous coursework and experiences. My class partnered with Spring and Mulberry, a health-conscious, luxury chocolate brand emerging out of Raleigh. Using the Employer Value Proposition framework, we analyzed the startup’s corporate culture and provided recommendations for equitable hiring practices and processes.

My team completed 27 cultural reviews of similar companies and analyzed their community engagement practices, workplace structure, and hiring and retention processes. We recommended that Spring and Mulberry standardize their job requirements to allow for a fair evaluation process stemming from a diverse pool of candidates. 

Reflection:

When I enrolled in this class, I envisioned that the course would have a marketing and branding focus. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that our course would center on company culture and building strong organizational foundations. Jamie Jacobs and Hema Crockett’s Designing Exceptional Organizational Cultures helped me understand the importance of an Employer Value Proposition, the motivating reason why an employee would be attracted to and engaged with a brand. 

 

Dr. Yvette Bonaparte made this capstone course approachable and engaging, allowing students to shape the course to best fit the client’s needs and students’ interests. Through this course, I learned the value of a brand’s personal narrative and human-centered story.

Experience 1
Small Town Records

I am currently a signed artist with Small Town Records, Duke's student-run record label. As an artist, I write and record my own music for production and distribution. My involvement with Small Town is similar to that of running a business. My work in developing my image as an artist runs parallel to a small business's branding strategy. Furthermore, the music production process is innovative and entrepreneurial in its nature. Songwriting is collaborative and requires creative thinking, and there are many moving parts in the production process. I work with engineers, producers, and other musicians to create a final artistic product.

 

This experience is focused in the music industry, especially in the areas of branding, artist development, and music production. I record in the studio multiple times a month, organize meetings with my management team, and perform at various venues around Duke and Durham. I have designed a website for myself, developed a portfolio, and created strategic marketing plans for broadcasting my music on streaming networks.

However, being an artist has not always been easy. During COVID, the studio was very restricted, and I failed to produce a holiday EP I had hoped to release around Christmas of 2020. However, through this experience, I became a stronger advocate for myself and other musicians who were being denied studio time due to irrational COVID protocols

As of October 2021, I have released five songs on streaming networks and performed at a variety of venues including the Apollo Theater in New York City. I credit my experience with Small Town Records for allowing me to grow artistically and professionally, as I have amassed hundreds of thousands of streams and made connections with Duke alumni in the entertainment industry. I feel prepared to pursue a career in the entertainment industry following graduation.

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Experience 2
Center for Creative Economy

The Center for Creative Economy is a non-profit organization in Winston Salem, NC that focuses on economic development in creative industries. Through three signature programs, CCE aims to address the lack of inception stage business training available for creatives and artists. During my summer internship, I worked on developing Velocity, a 9-week business accelerator for creative entrepreneurs. Velocity promises to help “turn creative passions into a growing business.” 

As a Marketing and Operations Intern, I was responsible for creating social media content as well as promoting the services of the company. I regularly attended staff meetings and contributed ideas to marketing plans. I created captivating graphics and slogans to promote CCE’s programming. Additionally, I wrote copy for the company’s social media channels. 

On the operations side, I managed the non-profit’s donor database. My duties  involved managing virtual events. I often wrote summaries of the events for publication on CCE’s website or create re-cap surveys for attendees. Additionally, I reviewed applications to the startup incubator and provided constructive feedback for start-ups who were seeking to expand their consumer base.   

My largest responsibility was drafting grant proposals. Through trial and error, I perfected the art of grant writing. My internship continued to a part time job in fall of 2020, and during my six months at the company, I raised over $100,000. 

Throughout my internship, I constantly had to brainstorm ways for the company to adapt during COVID-19. I contributed to ideas for virtual programming and problem-solving during the pandemic. 

Experience 3
Redeye Worldwide

Redeye Worldwide is an international distribution and music services company with headquarters in Hillsboro, NC. The company connects independent artists with consumer bases through digital and physical distribution. Redeye owns and operates Yep Roc Music Group, a label group with Grammy-award-winning artists. My work fell under the Redeye Umbrella, but I specifically worked on projects for artists with Yep Roc. As a recording artist with Small Town Records on Duke’s campus, I was eager to learn more about the music industry’s day-to-day operations. I am a passionate performer interested in the business and legal affairs of music distribution. My interests in music and arts administration drove me to apply for this internship. 

As a digital music distribution intern, my primary work was with digital service providers (DSPs) such as iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music.

I worked on campaigns for artists that are releasing new music by writing copy, compiling digital pitches for editorial playlists, and analyzing trends from previous releases. Additionally, I aided Yep Roc’s Digital Marketing Manager with release strategies and timelines for digital content. Much of my work was under a NDA, so I am unable to release many of the documents I created.

I also did some administrative work by tracking metadata within Yep Roc’s internal system. Using the label’s Spotify page, I curate artist-specific or genre-specific playlists to drive traffic to label-owned content. One time I accidentally deleted some tracks on an artist's platform and freaked out, thinking I had destroyed a source of income. As it turns out, I was able to repost them by clicking a button. I learned that panic is not always the most effective response to failure.

I hoped to gain a better understanding of the softwares that artists use for tracking their data and monitoring campaigns. By the end of the summer, my proficiency with Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and Soundcloud proved I mastered their use.

 

Additionally, I hoped to learn how to run a strategic marketing campaign for a release. Through analyzing the releases I have worked on, I can tell my marketing knowledge has grown. My understanding of the music industry expanded tremendously.

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Connection and Self-Understanding

When I first came to Duke, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate appealed to me because of its interdisciplinary curriculum and interesting pathways whose topics were not covered in other departments. I was intrigued by the Media, Arts, and Entertainment pathway’s course selections, which offered a glimpse into the world of arts administration. Now, as a senior I believe that the I&E certificate provided me with the most beneficial course material I had at Duke. 

 

When I first decided to pursue the certificate, I had just become a signed artist with Duke’s Small Town Records. I wanted to build my artistic portfolio and learn how to promote my original songs. As I explored my gateway course, “Legal Issues in the Performing Arts,” I considered a career in entertainment law. I was a public policy major, and the law school route seemed a little more stable than a career in performance. Maybe I should take the secure path, I told myself.

 

My junior year, COVID severely impacted performance opportunities, and I felt like a piece of me was missing. However, this break from my art may have been a gift. It forced me to think about what truly fulfilled me: performing. My love of the arts was the reason I chose the I&E certificate in the first place. 

 

My I&E courses and experience have allowed me to channel my creativity as a performer while learning the fundamentals of founding and sustaining a successful business. I have often said that I wish the Innovation and Entrepreneurship department was available as a major. There are so many courses exploring the intersection of the arts and organizational structure that I wish I would have had time to take. 

 

As I enter this next chapter of my life, I feel supported by the resources the I&E certificate has given me. I plan to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in vocal performance and acting, creating the business that is Logan Welborn, the performer. I am thankful to have built this foundation of knowledge and creativity through the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship program.