Plans to Acquire Musicians Desk Reference and Define a Path for Creative Economies and Artists

John ZozzaroAdvocacy, Development, Education, Innovation, Venture CapitalLeave a Comment

In the 21st century digital economy, it’s important to notice the affect technology has played, both good and bad, for professionals working in media. While it has helped give birth to thriving verticals such as VR, AR, Video Games, and Podcasting, it has left other media verticals such as News, Film, Music, Radio, and Publishing scrambling to identify long term solutions to keep up with the pace of innovation and disruption.

Due to the challenges these media verticals have simply keeping up, An unfortunate cause from failing to do so places a majority of the burden on the very professionals that work within them. This plays a large role in why over 50% of Americans will be working for themselves by 2027, highlighted in the Freelancing in America Survey, published by the Freelancers Union and Upwork. There’s a reason why it’s called “The Gig Economy,” that’s because a large percentage of these freelancing professionals make up the creative economy, musicians, artists, designers, photographers, videographers, journalists, developers, all working in media.

If we keep peeling the onion one could argue it’s because universities and other traditional institutions have their own challenges in keeping up with innovation and a thriving gig economy, that these creative industries will continue to struggle in the foreseeable future. There’s a reason why, highlighted in NBC’s article, some of largest organizations in the world, Google, Apple, and IBM to name a few, no longer require future employees to have four year degrees, paving the way for incubators, accelerators, trade schools, and other programs focused on project based learning and teaching students how to fish and think more like entrepreneurs.

IBM’s vice president of talent Joanna Daley told CNBC Make It that about 15 percent of her company’s U.S. hires don’t have a four-year degree. She said that instead of looking exclusively at candidates who went to college, IBM now looks at candidates who have hands-on experience via a coding boot camp or an industry-related vocational class.

It’s because of these systemic and industry challenges, we have decided to acquire Musician’s Desk Reference (MDR), a project based, business management tool for musicians that will have a workforce development marketplace feature in the future. Being an Austin, TX based organization, we’ve seen first hand the monumental affect gentrification and lack of infrastructure has had on the professionals that helped make Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World,” with over 70% of our musicians currently living under the poverty line. The Austin Music Census, a survey commissioned by Don Pitts, founder of Sound Music Cities, formerly Austin’s City Music Manager, and the Austin Music Commission shed light on the grim reality for today’s creative economy. We know MDR plays a large role in helping bridge the gap between musicians and hire wages, and look forward to working with Austin, and every other city that struggles to find solutions for their creative professionals, as these challenges are not unique to Austin, TX.

We’ve known the founder of MDR, Brian Penick for a few years now and are excited to keep him on as CEO. Brian’s 20+ years of experience in the music industry, a successful exit under his belt with Soundstr being acquired by VNUE, and more recent role as a VC and Managing Partner of Legacy Entertainment Ventures, makes him an ideal partner and we’re excited to have him join MediaTech Ventures. We share a common vision and passion for the future of the media industry, and look forward to continuing the development of MDR to bring even more value to the creative economy.

You can read the entire acquisition announcement here.

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