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Risks in music business lead to success

Risk. Fail. Risk again.

Such is life in the music industry. There are constantly new bands being started by talented musicians and an ever-changing market for new music.  Becoming mainstream is an upwards battle for most, but it is usually the risk-takers that make it to the top first.

Think of the music artists that are popular today. One that first comes to mind is Lady Gaga, a woman who might be one of the biggest risk-takers in music and in fashion.  Much of her commercial success is a result of the risks she takes.

Amedeo Rossi, project manager for the Des Moines Music Coalition, said that success in the industry consists entirely of taking the right risks.

“The music business is based on risk,” Rossi said. “You won’t make a lot of guaranteed money to begin with. It’s really about being good at what you do and getting a piece of the pie as things begin to go well.  It is a highly entrepreneurial field.”

Tomorrow at 6 p.m., the DMMC presents Music University with M. Shawn Crahan. Music University is a series that was created as a way to facilitate relationships between artists and industry professionals. This discussion-based series allows interested artists to gain advice from experts on how to be successful in the music industry. It is designed to help artists and people working in the industry learn how to take risks that will further their careers. Past topics include touring, recording and marketing.

Crahan will discuss his journey as a musician and give advice on how to succeed in the music world. He will discuss what it is like to pursue dreams and what it is like to be a part of Slipknot.

Crahan has been active in the music industry for the last 20 years working on multiple music projects. He is most recognized as the percussionist for the Grammy-winning band Slipknot, but he has been involved with other bands such as To My Surprise and Dirty Little Rabbits.

In addition to playing percussion instruments, Crahan has directed many of Slipknot’s music videos. Now, after 20 years of working in the industry, Crahan wants to share his experiences with young aspiring musicians.

Rossi contacted Crahan and invited him to speak at Drake University as a part of the Music University series, to which Crahan was very receptive.  But it doesn’t stop there, as Crahan wants to share his experiences with other students by taking this lecture on the road to other universities, Rossi said.

Students at Drake have been recognized for their musical achievements in performance and competition. Music University will give these students a peak into the future and give them the opportunity to hear from an expert about what it is like to make it in the music world.

“Having a professional come speak to us is such a great opportunity to learn more about what our life will be like after graduation,” said senior Katie Vergosen, a music and international relations major.

Music University isn’t the only program that the DMMC supports.  Coming up later this year, the DMMC will sponsor “Little Big Fest” and “Gross Domestic Product,” two music festivals that feature local independent artists.

“The DMMC is eager to help facilitate a music industry analysis and study as we think the industry can grow,” Rossi said.

The man behind the music…

Shawn Cahan

Founding member and percussionist of Slipknot

Was in 3 other bands – In To My Surprise, Dirty Little Rabbits and The Black Dots of Death

Worked as a producer and director for bands as well as remixing songs


Currently resides in Des Moines with his wife and four children.

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