Jon Dekker (ASAP 2012) was among twenty current and former NFL players to attend the first-ever NFL Business of Music Bootcamp early March, hosted by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. The four-day intensive music business immersion, taught by the industry’s leading business executives, teaches players how to survive and thrive in the sector.
Dekker took a one-week break from his MBA studies in the applied securities analysis program at the Wisconsin School of Business to take part in the Music Boot Camp. A three-sport star in his Wisconsin high school, Dekker was a stand-out at Princeton, his undergraduate alma mater, leading him to become a three-year tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers and part of their Super Bowl XLIII-winning squad, officially leaving the league after the 2008 season.
“It’s such a short shelf life in the NFL,” Dekker told SonicScoop. “I think the average career comes out to about 3 or 3 ½ years, and that’s one reason I applied to business school right after that career. It’s awesome and you want to extend it as far as possible, but the reality is that before you know it, it’s over.”
According to Troy Vincent, NFL Vice President of Player Engagement, the music program was designed specifically for former players who are interested in the business of music to serve as a springboard for a new career post-NFL.
The 20 players who arrived at NYU kicked off the Boot Camp via an intimate keynote Q&A with Sony Music Chief Creative Officer Clive Davis, who shared career highlights and lessons with a rapt audience. In the 90-minute session, questions from the players were numerous and Davis was frank on all fronts with them. Their schedules went from 6:30 AM until 8:30 or 9:00 PM daily, with itineraries planned to the minute, insuring maximum information and connectivity with the 19 expert-led panels and workshops across the four days.
Dekker told SonicScoop that professional athletes are primed for the work ethic required for today’s ultra-competitive music business. “I think an athlete definitely has the understanding of how much has to go into it,” he said, “and obviously all those players at NYU this week didn’t get into the NFL without putting in a lot of time and a lot of work. I think they realize how much of that has to be replicated if they’re going to accomplish that in music.
“You also have a lot of different athletes from different backgrounds that have varied musical tastes. You can bring your own unique musical tastes to the forefront. In addition, athletes are also entertainers. That’s why I love to go to concerts, and why musicians love to go to a sporting event. It’s an appreciation for the other’s craft.”
For Dekker the result was twofold: a better understanding of the music industry, and tips on the best way of going about things – provided this was a dream he wanted to pursue. “A lot of us are wondering, ‘What does it really take to get into this business, and what do I have to put in?’ This clarified a lot I didn’t know.
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