Following a passion and turning it into a lucrative career can be quite daunting for many, especially in an economic environment where the choice stands between joblessness and simply earning a paycheck to survive.
However, there are some who are brave enough to step out on faith and take the risk of forfeiting an immediate means of survival to pursue a dream.
Aaron Arnold, 30, founder and CEO of Music Is My Business, made that decision, leaving a high-paying job as a public relations executive to take an unpaid internship working under one of the hardest-working men in show business – Bad Boy Records founder and entertainment industry powerhouse Sean “Diddy” Combs.
After the life-changing experience (and living off credit cards and a prayer), Arnold’s Atlanta-based music company now boasts a client list that includes ESPN, Heineken, and the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP). He’s also worked with Grammy-award winning songwriter Bryan Michael Cox and platinum-selling artists Danity Kane.
He talked with BlackEnterprise.com about finding the courage to pursue his dream, being inspired by Combs, and the lessons in learning as you go.
BlackEnterprise.com: You transitioned from working in public relations to becoming the CEO of a music company. How did you become interested in the music industry?
Aaron Arnold: Although I had a great job for a great company, I wasn’t happy anymore. My ambition had outgrown what I was currently doing. I closed my eyes and asked myself, “If I could do something for free, what would it be?”
Shockingly to me, it was music, but it made sense too, [since] my mother performed opera and my dad was a jazz musician and music professor. I was even in concert choir during high school. I basically followed my heart.
How did working for Sean “Diddy” Combs inspire you to branch out on your own?
My work with Mr. Combs was an amazing experience, and every day was different and intense. I came to him with the goal of being the next generation of executives to influence music and business. All I asked of him was to mentor and groom me, and in return I’d work a year for free if he saw fit. At the first meeting I ever attended with him, I was so inspired by his work ethic, energy, and knowledge of various industries. I went home that night and launched the concept of Music Is My Business.