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The Business of Being Creative: Q&A with Jocelyn Celaya of the Entertainment Small Business Alliance

Musicians and performing artists know they have to think like small business owners. Where do you find business support when music is your business? Local, regional, and federal resources for small businesses abound, but few are targeted specifically to the needs of creatives in the arts and entertainment fields. I asked Jocelyn Celaya about her work filling that gap.

Jocelyn Celaya is president and founder of the Entertainment Small Business Alliance (ESBA), a non-profit organization that provides free business assistance and membership to both prospective entrepreneurs and existing small business owners in over 800 different categories in the Arts and Entertainment Industry, including music, performing arts, and entertainment venues, to develop their business both domestically and globally. The ESBA proposed and created the SBA Community Advantage Loan: for the Arts and Entertainment Industry in collaboration with the US Small Business Administration. Jocelyn understands what it takes to thrive as a musician: as Radical Classical, she performs and records original music that combines traditional classical guitar techniques with heavy bass lines and rock song structures.

Q: How did you first see the need for more support for small businesses in the entertainment space? 
A: As a musician, I first started noticing the need for more support and credible resources for our industry when I started touring and working with other businesses while developing my own business.

Q: What specific problems do arts and entertainment entrepreneurs face that make business planning challenging?
A: One problem that businesses in the arts and entertainment industry often face is the challenge of managing a “cyclical” business and deciding where to allocate their funds that will lead to a return on their investment.

Q: How can thinking at times like a small business help artists better enact their creative visions?
A: Thinking like a business can help artists because it involves developing a road map for their career and set out a list of goals and deadlines to achieve. Having this mindset can definitely help artists map out their projects, whether it be an album, film or comic book, etc.
There is also a benefit on the flip side! A key component to developing a great business and adapting to changes is creativity. Artists should utilize their creative talents to help develop their business.

Q: What are three key tips you'd give musicians who are hoping to improve their business plans/skills?
A: First, start building your credit score and good credit history for your business. This can take up to months or years, so the sooner you can start the better!
Do research before making any decisions and understand the business aspect of the industry that you are in. Things can be very different on the business side than the creative side.
Finally, learn how to protect your intellectual property - all the works you create - and make sure all of your agreements are in writing before you begin your project.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: Know about organizations and government resources that can help your business succeed!

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