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Back Story: Startup Singer

Dom Collins applies lessons he learned in his Northwestern legal and business training to his career as an entertainment entrepreneur.

dom marcell dom collins studio
Dom Collins talks with news anchor Paul Robins before a performance at the Fox 40 TV studios in Sacramento. Image: DEREK GIOVANNI PHOTOGRAPHY

By Jacob Muñoz
Summer 2019
People

Dom Collins ’16 JD, MBA had been working as a media and entertainment banker on Wall Street for a year when he got the itch to leave his day job and pursue his passion. He had started writing songs while in school at Northwestern. Now, out in the corporate world, he could not shake the desire to perform and record his own music. Drawing on his legal and business background, Collins formed Domarco7 Entertainment and launched an R&B career in New York City under the stage name Dom Marcell. Collins, who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Orleans, recently released his debut album, U-Nique Destiny, which features a mix of pop, R&B, hip-hop, dance and hints of gospel. His music focuses, in part, on overcoming tragedy — in recent years he lost his mother to breast cancer and his sister to sickle cell anemia — and following your dreams. Thanks to the lessons he learned while splitting time between the Kellogg School of Management and Pritzker Northwestern School of Law in the three-year JD-MBA Program, Collins is on his way.

I like to create and be autonomous. I enjoy the freedom of doing what I love. I knew entrepreneurship was going to allow me to do that long term. My goal was to leverage what I learned in the corporate world and apply it to my music startup.

I decided to go to graduate school at Northwestern because I wanted to take my finance career to the next level. I had worked at a boutique investment bank, a commercial real estate investment firm and a financial services firm in New York. I wanted to develop both my business and leadership skills while also building my network.

Law school essentially teaches the student how to be an effective communicator. I pull from this whenever I pitch a new idea to my marketing and creative teams, the press or a business partner. Similarly, I learned the importance of leading by doing in business school. It’s important to roll up my sleeves and help out in any way I can, regardless of function. We’re all a team.

dom collins single cover church night

The cover for Dom Collins’ single “Church Night”

While some artists outsource the business aspects to a manager, I have self-managed thus far and used LinkedIn to build a following. Some artists may not know how to leverage LinkedIn as a useful platform — in addition to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter — to promote their work. I’ve been able to use this approach to market my music and gain supporters.

It’s important to tell my story in a way that will both inspire and galvanize others to follow their passion. I hope to continue to use my art as a conduit to accomplish this.

While it is not necessary to get an MBA, I would encourage all artists to be well-versed in business by reading books on entrepreneurship and the music business. This has definitely helped me in my pursuit.

Music is so powerful, because it brings people of all different backgrounds together. I’ve had difficult times in my life where a certain song uplifted me.

When I am performing on stage, it’s euphoria. That’s how I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

You only live once, so if you have a passion that’s dormant, try to explore it in your free time. You don’t have to go all-in. Even though I was in corporate America, I still was singing in my church choir. And your passion can change over time, so be open to allowing that to happen, because you never know if it will come full-circle.

Interview by Jacob Munoz, a sophomore from Ingleside, Ill., who is studying journalism and psychology.

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