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MSLCE Professor Gregg Latterman Talks Music Industry and the Digital Age in Fireside Chat

By Nick Roman

The Fray, Michelle Branch, Five for Fighting, and Brandi Carlisle are few of the many artists that MSLCE Professor Gregg Latterman discovered in his career as a music and entertainment entrepreneur.

Latterman, who teaches the Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries course, recently sat down with MSLCE students to chat about the history of popular music, arts startups, and how to navigate our career as a Northwestern alumnus. Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries is offered in the spring quarter, and is available to students in MSLCE, Kellogg, and to undergraduate students. In the course, students design companies that are then advised and boosted by Latterman and guest speakers.

Latterman’s company, Aware, was already on the path to success even before he graduated from Kellogg in 1994. As Aware grew, the company garnered substantial revenue, allowing Latterman to hire employees and negotiate a joint venture with Columbia Records, which lasted 18 years. Reflecting on Aware’s success, Latterman recalled Five for Fighting’s performance for the 9/11 Memorial Concert at Madison Square Garden, which touched the nation and became embedded in American history. Eventually Latterman took a break from the music business to earn a Masters in Positive Psychology from Penn Arts & Sciences.  

MSLCE student Bethany Kaufman asked Latterman how to find the entry points into the music sector. Because of the lack of gatekeepers in the industry, Latterman said that one’s network and resources are the best tools to climb the ladder of success. Young adults of the digital age are the controllers of the industry now, thus demonstrating the power shift from labels to managers. Despite the historical changes, radio is still key for artists because “most stuff that gets huge isn’t because it’s great, it’s because it reacts, and that’s where the opportunities exist,” Latterman explained.

Latterman wrapped up the chat by encouraging us to leverage our Northwestern networks, and to identify how our connections will be advantageous when seeking talent. In regard to breaking into our respective industries, Latterman advises that we “Don’t wait in line for your chance, create your own value, and create it for the artist.”

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