Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

3 posts from April 2014

30 April 2014

The Creative Sector in Britain is one of the largest in the world!

Co-founder and producer of the global stage show, Dirty Dancing, Michael Jacobsen, shares his thoughts about the creative sector and creative entrepreneurs.


The very broad range of areas included in the creative sector goes to the heart of how we get our entertainment every day. Largely, the entertainment not derived from the sporting sector is derived from the creative sector.

Advertising, architecture, arts and crafts, design, fashion, film,video, photography, software, games and e-publishing, creative tech, music, publishing, radio and TV are all part of the huge creative sector.

This places a big responsibility on the sector but also, when you think about it, shows just how vital it is to everyone’s life.

Historically, there seems to be a disconnect between creative and the City and or investors. A lot of investors simply don’t understand the investability of the Creative Sector or how important it is to our lives.

With the exception of ‘bread, milk and water ’, most people simply cannot do without their mobile phones, music or favourite downloaded shows or games each week.

This places the creative sector at the top of the list after our most immediate needs are taken care of and makes it far from non-essential but absolutely irreplaceable and integral.

The juxtaposition evident is that whilst products and services in this sector are consumed from discretionary income, most people would consider them vital to their daily lives.

So isn’t it about time it became easier for creative sector entrepreneurs to get investment, scale and obtain business genuine respect?

I think so. This is why when I work advising creatives my first priority is to ensure that the passion and vision, which defines a creative, are matched with some very real business nous.

These represent both sides of the equation and the business side is often missed out in the creative sector because it doesn’t bring creative entrepreneurs the same pleasure as actually creating does.

This then puts them at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to raising capital or expanding.

One thing is true in business and that is that Passion, Innovation and Vision are critical to success and are all common traits of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Look at creators like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch.

Fortunately for creative entrepreneurs, these skills come naturally to them and in abundant quantity.

Business, money, financial statements, routes to market, marketing plans and the psychology of success are key ingredients to success also.

The bigger and more successful a creative entrepreneur gets, the more able they are to ‘buy in’ business advice to complement their own skill sets. I undertake a lot of advisory work like this myself.

However at start up and growth phase, engaging consultants, advisors and Non Execs isn’t usually available as an option.The-business-of-creativity

I wrote the Business of Creativity to assist startup and growth entrepreneurs in the Creative and Creative tech sectors to marry up. Their creative brilliance with easy to understand and digest business guidance and create a duel skill set.

For some creatives, business nous may come naturally, but for many it doesn’t. Without it, a creative entrepreneur is is not priming themselves for the success they rightly deserve.

The Business & IP Centre has lots of inspiration as well as business advice and support for anyone in the creative sector looking to start or grow their own business. Have a look at the latest workshops and events.

You can also apply for a special Ask an Expert session with Michael, running for one day only in May. Am exclusive one-to-one advice session, open to only 5 lucky people, Micheal can help you get to grips with the issues of running a business in the creative industries. Apply for your place beofre they all go!

Michael Jacobsen is an author, entertainment entrepreneur and angel investor. He sits on various Boards and acts as an advisor for Creative and Creative Tech companies in Britain and Europe.


25 April 2014

From Rock Stars to Orchestras – making music in the Business & IP Centre

Flashback to a few months ago, and I was really pleased to help a leather-clad American rocker in the Business & IP Centre. He was here to research the School of Rock franchise (not to be confused with the School of Rock film).

Both names are registered as trademarks on the UKIPO’s website – the former as a music school and the latter by Paramount for the film. Our customer reminded me of David Coverdale the lead singer from UK Rock band Whitesnake – it’s not every day that a rock-and-roller comes into the Centre. Although we do have a wide range of musicians from Disc Jockeys to Death Metal guitarists to classical orchestras, using the Centre for their market research.

School of Rock logo

Photo Source: School of Rock Trademark - “Inspiring the World to Rock on Stage and in Life”

Our Innovating for Growth programme has advised the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), one of the most successful free-lance orchestras in the UK.

The Orchestra prides itself on its diversity, and ability to give crowd-pleasing performances with a small group of musicians to an intimate audience, or a full 80-piece orchestra at an outdoor event. The National Symphony Orchestra is also Katherine Jenkins’ orchestra for live concerts and UK tours.

They are regularly invited to perform in Russia, Scandinavia and across the rest of Europe.Their aim  is to introduce symphony music to the masses.
National Symphony Orchestra

At the heart of these businesses is the music itself, which has seen unrelenting innovation in the way we produce, consume, and enjoy music over the last ten years. By 2012 there had been nearly a billion digital tracks sold.

If you are looking for more statistics on the music industry, see our Music Industry Guide. This is a very useful starting point for anyone researching the music industry or starting a business.

Included in the guide is ‘Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age’ by Bobby Owsinski. He covers changes from sheet music in the 18th century through to vinyl and the present day digital formats. Owsinski describes in detail what he calls the ‘Six life stages of Music’.

The book covers the pros and cons of recent developments, and includes interviews with leading industry figures. Owsinski also looks at the use of social media as a marketing tool, as well as for distribution and brand development.

If you are looking to find answers to: What has changed? Who are the new players? What are the new technologies being introduced that will influence how you sell or market? This is the book for you. To quote one of his reviewers - “I own close to a dozen books on the topic of the changing landscape of music and how musicians of the new era might fit in; and while some of these books were helpful, “Music 3.0″ was by far the best and most useful of them all”.

Musical Inspiration

However, if you are looking for inspiration to create music, we have that in abundance too. From across the British Library, you can listen, see and feel music from our Sound and Vision archives and at our events. I recently visited our Listening Service, ordering items from the catalogue, where we have a collection of 3.5 million sounds, including LPs & singles from the 1950s to the present.  ‬‬‬‬Why not have a look yourself?

Jazz for moderns by Joe Harriott Quintet, album cover
You may also be surprised at what you find on our events page, and you can read more on our blog, Inspired by Vinyl. A few weeks ago I attended a talk at the inaugural symposium ‘Keeping Tracks: Music in a Digital Age’, where Sacha Sedriks Creative Director at BBC Future Media, spoke about the ways the BBC have had to innovate. Sacha also showed a video on the new ways users are consuming music, and how they are using technology to make the experience interactive, immersive and personal. The presentations and talks have been published and will give you insight from experts, as well as the clues to the future of digital music.

Needlessly to say, we have quite a few resources in the Business & IP Centre that provide insights and statistics on the worldwide music industry, including digital music trends. Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of BPI, sums up the future in Digital Music Nation

“The music consumer in 2013 is dramatically different from the music consumer of 2003 and it is to the credit of everyone in this ecosystem – labels, artists, publishers, digital services, technology companies – that the platforms are in place to meet their growing expectations.”

For businesses and consumers, the landscape is changing, and so are the formats and channels. But reassuringly, our love of music remains the same.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of the Business & IP Centre
Follow Seema on Twitter:@SeemaRampersad

08 April 2014

Portobello Business Centre Ask the Expert session at Imperial College

Michael Pattinson webOn Friday 28 March I attended an excellent Ask the Expert event hosted by Portobello Business Centre and sponsored by Lloyds TSB.  The event, held in the prestigious Rector’s House, Imperial College, comprised of six experts who circulated round the room at twenty minute intervals to sit with tables of three or four budding entrepreneurs and offer advice and expertise.  The event was chaired by Colin Rutt from Portobello,  who used a judge’s gavel to notify the experts when to swap places!

The experts included IT consultant Sunil Patel, Chris Smith from the Intellectual Property Office, marketing expert Chris Griffin  founder of marketing agency Pi Global, Uday Thakkar from Red Ochre, Bob Lindsay from Thames Productions and Howard Carter, entrepreneur and founder of Incognito.

The delegates were mainly small business founders and start-ups, with a variety of products and services.

Portobello Business Centre logoAfter some brief words of introduction from Colin, my table welcomed Sunil Patel.  Sunil has an extensive knowledge of the whole IT spectrum but it was on the subject of websites and ecommerce in particular that the delegates were keen to pick his brains.  He offered some excellent advice on how to set up your online presence distinguishing between the different types of sites – blogging sites, shop fronts – and their suitability.  He stressed the importance of business owners familiarising themselves with the processes of web development but ultimately the advice was to get someone in who knows what they are doing.

Speed Mentoring Session at Imperial College 3Once his twenty minutes was up, Sunil was replaced by Uday Thakkar, founder of Red Ochre and a familiar face to all of us at the Business & IP Centre.  Uday has a wealth of experience in business mentoring and support, but it was the subject of raising finance that he was focusing on specifically.  The conversation quickly settled on the subject of crowdfunding which has become a popular alternative to traditional forms of funding such as bank loans which are becoming increasingly difficult to secure in the current economic climate.

Uday stressed the importance of momentum when looking for crowdfunding so try to build up a good support base of family and friends to get the ball rolling.  It is also important to offer incentives to encourage people to participate.  If you are asking for gifts, offer something in return such as a free sample of your product or an invitation to an event.  Uday also mentioned the importance of timing.  Don’t start asking people for contributions just before Christmas or when they are about to go on their summer holidays.

Bob Lindsay from Thames Productions was our next expert.  Bob has an engineering and manufacturing background but he was keen to find out what each of the delegates was doing and tailor his advice accordingly.  He provided some particularly useful advice about approaching buyers.  He emphasised the importance of being prepared for the types of questions buyers usually have, and being able to assure them the correct procedures are in place.  He used the following examples of the types of issues they are concerned with: complying with ISO standards, logistics and complaints procedures.

Speed Mentoring Session at Imperial College 2

Following some refreshments, we were joined by Chris Griffin, founder of marketing agency Pi Global.  Chris underlined the importance of knowing your customer and explained that for a new business, word-of mouth was the most powerful marketing technique because it established a high level of trust.

I was keen to listen in on Chris Smith from the IPO to hear his take on Intellectual Property.  He provided a very helpful overview of how businesses can protect their IP focusing specifically on Trade Marks and Copyright.  Although you don’t need to register Copyright, it is a good idea to have a record of when you created a piece of work so he suggested sending a copy to your solicitor or even posting it to yourself by recorded delivery.  

Speed Mentoring Session at Imperial College 2

The event finished off with a question and answer session.  Uday mentioned the Business & IP Centre as a great place to conduct further research into some of the issues we had discussed throughout the day so I took my cue and managed to say a few words about the Centre and what we offer.

I didn’t get a chance to speak to Howard Carter but he spoke a bit about his experiences as an entrepreneur.  He expanded on a theme touched on by some of the other advisors, that all business founders make mistakes along the way but the secret is to learn from them and don’t lose heart when things don’t go your way.  Passion and perseverance count for a lot!

Thanks to Colin Rutt and the rest of the team at Portobello Business Centre for hosting the event and for their hospitality on the day.  Also thanks to Lloyds TSB for sponsoring the event.

Michael Pattinson Business & IP Centre Team