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 “Diddyâ€ 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 motherÂ 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 “Diddyâ€ 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 hisÂ work ethic, energy,Â andÂ knowledge of various industries. I went home that night and launched the concept ofÂ Music Is My Business.