Music is like a business.

There’s only one more week left until the start of ICC. This year (as a senior) I’m in charge of Battle of the Bands…again. For the past two years I have led my prom’s band. On my sophomore year I was proud to be part of the first ever winning band of ICC, Junior year wasn’t what we expected; we got to second place after we were defeated by the Seniors. However, this year, we have to win. At least that’s what people are hoping for.

The Inter Class Competition — better known as ICC — is a one week long competition that is held between the four high school grades: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. Rather than having a forum or exhibition, it represents a way to motivate students to try their best as it is fueled by competition between different grade levels. It also allows each grade to show off in different skills including sports, music, art, drama and many more. ICC is probably the most intense and fun week there is in the whole school year. The purpose of this competition isn’t only to battle against different grades but also to bond — through teamwork– with people.

As I’m sitting here, writing this, I wonder: “why me?”. There’s a lot of pressure on the table right now. For those who don’t know me, I am a musician. People usually rely on me, on my musical skills. Forming a band and creating a song that will tells our story and who we are as a prom is not an easy task. For the last few years I have enjoyed creating the song that represents my grade level, yet this year, I don’t feel as motivated as before. In my grade level, there are people that support me as a musician, but there are also people who don’t. And this is where it gets interesting.

I’ve arrived at a moment in life when I finally understand how things work. There are two kinds of people: your friends and those who only want you when they need you. I know the struggle of being a musician, of thinking differently. I know how it feels to be the “artistic weirdo”. Sometimes people do not realise the true value of music. I’ve been put down before by the same people that are now asking for my help in Battle of the Bands. And here I am, wondering whether or not I should do this.

It has taken me time to chill down and realise that music is like a business. Adapting and adjusting is the key to success. In life you must treat music as a business because in the end who is consistently making good money? Who is standing out?

Well, it’s definitely not the people that sound like what’s already on the radio neither the ones whose music is really well produced but really freaking boring. In the end those who are actually making and sustaining a good living generally seem to be those hustling like crazy to pursue every opportunity imaginable, those making stuff that doesn’t sound like anyone else, those who treat people with respect and humility, those who think differently.

Just like in any other business, people want you when they need you. During my final year in the Innovation Academy (a rigorous, experimental learning program) I must use the skills I’ve acquired to open up my own business that serves a need to my community and provides value. For the last two weeks, I have been working on a business idea: EM FEST.

EM FEST is a music festival, just like Battle of the Bands, the only difference: it solves a problem. It is a business meant to entertain, a business that involves the musical arts of the different communities in Lima. By creating another opportunity to gather people and diffuse music this festival will serve as the chance to enrich the appreciation of music in my school’s community.

To be sincere, before coming up with this business idea I was planning on making a food business just like everyone else. But then I was reminded of a quote by a famous novelist who once said “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”. This quote opened my eyes and allowed me to think like a musician, think differently.

There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed. In the end, my business idea was one of the ideas that received the most votes. How did this happen? Im sure it had something to do with giving the community what it needs, just like giving people the music they want in Battle of the Bands. This reminded me of another quote by American newscaster David Brinkley: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that other throw at him.”

This combination of music and business has implanted a new mentality in me, a new ideology that will not only help me throughout Battle of the Bands and EM FEST but also in life: don’t be distracted by criticism.

And for those reading this, remember, the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you.

“Stay foolish, stay hungry” — Steve Jobs