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RNCM winners with Sandi.JPG

Photo by Times Higher Education Awards

Music and Entrepreneurship

Training in entrepreneurship (seen in its broadest sense, and including such concepts as creativity, innovation, enterprise and employability) is essential for musicians. Dr Michelle Phillips is Head of Enterprise (Academic) at the RNCM, and leads this area of training for RNCM musicians.

The RNCM's work was recently recognised in their winning the Times Higher Education 'Outstanding Entrepreneurial University' Award 2023 (photo above shows the award being handed to us by Sandi Toksvig, who hosted the awards ceremony).


National Centre for Entrepreneurship Education article about entrepreneurship at the RNCM

Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society blog on 'Harmonising Innovation: The RNCM Shaping Tomorrow’s Musical Entrepreneurs and Changemakers' (thank you to Prof David Kirby and Dr Felicity Healey-Benson)

Interview with Dr Michelle Phillips following the RNCM winning the THE Outstanding Entrepreneurial University Award 2023: Sound business sense: the entrepreneurial conservatoire teaching Tchaikovsky and tax returns - Royal Northern College of Music (

StART Entrepreneurship Project - Royal Northern College of Music (

RNCM Research Forum by Drs Michelle Phillips, Nicola Pennill and Keith Phillips on research undertaken as part of the StART Entrepreneurship Project

Michelle and Hannah winners.JPG

Photo by Times Higher Education Awards

Why do musicians need entrepreneurship skills?

Graduate outcomes data consistently shows that creative arts graduates are the most likely of all degree disciplines to embark on freelance (self-employed careers). Dr Michelle Phillips is Head of Enterprise (Academic) at the RNCM, and leads the design and delivery of entrepreneurship training for students. The RNCM has honed its in-, co- and extra-curricular offering to make sure that they are world leaders in this area of a professional musician’s training. The need for high quality self-employment training has never been so urgent as in the creative industries following the COVID-19: “The cultural and creative sectors were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 10 million jobs lost in 2020 alone” (Reshaping Policies for Creativity, 2022).

StART Entrepreneurship Project

Michelle was Principal Investigator of the StART Entrepreneurship Project, which was awarded £902,153 from the Office for Students and Research England (UK governmental bodies) and aimed to explore the most effective ways to train creative industries students in entrepreneurial skills. This two-year ‘StART Entrepreneurship project’ (2020-22) was in partnership with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and University of the Arts London. Outcomes of the project include the following: 19,831 hours of student engagement with StART activity, 3,243 students engaged, 233 new industry partners, 798 events, 213 new materials and toolkits, peer-reviewed research publications, invited talks and keynotes, podcasts and conference presentations (full list here), new networks (e.g., Michelle was been invited to share findings with colleagues in Colorado, Rochester, Brisbane, Helsinki, and Paris). The project prioritised access and inclusion (e.g., the Advisory Board included a member with expertise in equality, diversity and inclusivity, keynote speakers for the bootcamp were diverse in gender and background, and talks were live captioned and signed in British Sign Language, and the StART project included a dedicated research strand examining the accessibility and inclusiveness of all project activity), and was student led in multiple ways.

StART team_edited.jpg

RNCM StART Entrepreneurship Project team with Prof Andy Penaluna

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