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Injecting Business Sense into Fashion, Film, and Music

Bankers aren't the only ones attending MBA programs these days. Professionals interested in fashion, film and music are also enrolling in programs combining the study of these creative fields with business education. Pursuing these degrees could be a win-win situation for artists: Becoming a better business manager provides them with opportunities to astutely pursue creative endeavors in an independent and profitable manner.

"They try to instill in us the mentality of creating our own businesses instead of working for someone else," said Edoardo Vittorio, a fashion marketing graduate student at IED Barcelona, Escola Superior de Disseny. "That's great because in the end you're more independent and live a fuller life."

Vittorio's case isn't isolated. More programs are offering people with creative visions the opportunity to become savvier in the business field. Take a look.

Business programs for fashion marketers

At IED Barcelona, the Master in Fashion Marketing and Communication trains students to analyze the market and develop brand images and communications. The master's program starts in October and ends in July. Students study basic marketing, fashion marketing, and international marketing, as well as fashion history, and accessories history. They also learn how to start and run businesses and to communicate the attributes of their products and services. In addition, students review the characteristics of successful fashion designers to learn from their predecessors.

Originally from Turin, Italy, Vittorio enrolled in IED Barcelona to learn about the family business. His grandfather, father, and uncles, all worked in the fashion industry as tailors, shop owners, and consultants.

"For years, my family has been involved in the fashion industry," Vittorio said. "It's a little bit in my blood."

Prior to graduation from IED Barcelona, students present their final project. A company outlines a series of marketing objectives and students come up with a marketing plan to address those goals. After graduation students can seek work as marketing and communication directors in the fashion industry, fashion marketing consultants, fashion journalists, and online marketers. Graduates could even look for work as coolhunters, or those who help identify future trends particularly in the fashion and media industries.

Vittorio is already working on own plans: this includes his own clothing line; he noted that the education he has received will allow him to deliver a superior product.

MBA programs for filmmakers

New York University has a dual degree program -- an MBA/MFA -- to train aspiring producers and entertainment industry executives to finance and make films. The program is the product of a partnership between NYU's Stern School of Business and the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at the Tisch School of the Arts.

Lasting three years, the program combines traditional MBA courses with classes dealing with the business side of the entertainment industry. It also provides students access to the full MFA curriculum in filmmaking. At school, students can discover opportunities to become involved in film projects and internships; upon graduation, their background could lead them to possibilities in major film studios, independent production companies, or major television studios and networks.

"It's a long road," Ryan Heller, a former rock band member, said of the program, but he's confident that with the experience acquired in the program, he'll make it.

He has already created award-winning films with Promotion Pictures and interned with Starz Media. He's taken a class on the Cannes Film Festival and attended the French film extravaganza with colleagues. He's also taken a class on business and producing. Long-term, he wants to write and produce films. For him, the MBA/MFA program provides the ability to study the industry while also working in film-story telling.

Business school for music industry execs

In September 2012, the Henley Business School of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom will launch its MBA for the music industry. Executives should be able to complete this MBA part-time in two to three years; the program was developed with the input from an international team of music executives and looks to combine traditional MBA topics with workshops and presentations from leading figures in the music industry. Topics include copyright development, alternative funding options, international regulations, and market opportunities.

"This MBA will not make you a creative genius, but it can take creative people and help make them great business leaders," London-based Jonathan Shalit, founder/chairman of leading U.K. artist management firm ROAR Group and program advocate, told Billboard.

This MBA program should also look to help students in more ways than one: it includes a personal development component to enable self-sponsored students to advance in the music industry.

Creating your own opportunities

With the introduction of these new programs, it can almost be written in stone: business students wanting an education in creative fields now have increasing opportunities. In short, business school can be an essential way for learning how a specific business field works while also generating new opportunities. That, in itself, could be worth a million bucks!