Music Business at Penn arrived on campus this semester, but its already began establishing itself as an inexorable facet of Penn culture and a welcomed deviation for the many Penn students wrapped desperately in the finance straitjacket of Wharton. 

I sat down with the club's founders, Paco Prio and Levi Gans, expecting a rehearsed tale of them starting Music Business at Penn. What I found was much more insightful and refreshingly counter–indicative of the larger culture at Penn. It was immediately clear that the founders, sophomore best friends, who met at Penn despite both being from from Miami, are the fuel for the club's apparent success.

Paco and Levi have both always been interested in music. Levi left a band in Miami to study business at Penn, and Paco is decisively interested in multimedia production and journalism, even exploring a brief stint in the Cinema Studies department before settling into his Wharton curriculum. But passion is not always enough, and, as Levi and Paco explained, they felt they were losing their love for music in Wharton’s fast–paced and professional environment. “Losing what makes you tick,” as Paco put it, is undeniably a side effect of Wharton. 

They created Music Business at Penn to teach students, like themselves, about the many creative formats that blend well with business fundamentals. Music Business at Penn provides those interested in music with an alternative and revivifying route to the study of business through world experience in the music industry—organizing concerts, working with speakers, managing artists, and bringing in career opportunities in the music industry never before on the radar of many of Penn’s business students. 

This isn’t a new idea, with tons of clubs at the intersection of music and business at schools across the country. But, as Levi explained, there hasn’t really been a huge Ivy League presence in the music industry. This has given them an edge in bringing in established speakers and well–known artists to their events. Levi says, “The Ivy League brings a new group of people that these bands really can’t get in touch with on a personal basis, that we can bring to them.” A kinder way of saying, “Most Ivy League students aren’t seeking out up–and–coming rock bands in between library sessions.” 

However, inviting speakers and organizing concerts as part of a newly formed organization can be risky. Levi and Paco understood from the start that to make Music Business at Penn successful, they had to be fully committed and enthusiastic leaders of the club themselves. The club has emerged as their top priority, which they believe radiates to MB’s members. This, in turn, leaves speakers impressed with the club's outstanding enthusiasm, turnout, and engagement, compelling music industry leaders like SANA Records founder Lucas Thomashow and massive music executive Jeff Rabhan to offer internships and make further connections with the students of Music Business at Penn. Running this club, taking risks, selling themselves, and giving their all to something they’ve created are skills members will certainly take into their professional careers—music industry or not. Paco admitted that the pair has treated Music Business at Penn like a startup. 

Utilizing and teaching participants real–life business skills as they go, while engaging in a creative industry they are fascinated with—MB is a serendipitous crossroads one simply cannot find in their classes. “We’re not in this for a resume boost or anything like that. We're in it for people to be happy, be excited, and have something out of class that they can work hard on and see value come to themselves from it,” Levi says.

Paco and Levi could not do this alone. They have a team of 30 club members, sorted down from over 100 applicants, who are as excited and engaged as they are. From content creation to marketing to outreach, the Music Business at Penn team opens up an entirely different professional avenue for those interested in both music and business—even for those not a part of it officially. 

Penn students looking to learn about music in the film industry can attend Music Business at Penn’s speaker event with Tom MacDougall, president of music for The Walt Disney Company, on April 24. Those interested in production and songwriting can attend MB’s event with Blake Slatkin, a producer for artists like Justin Bieber, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, The Kid Laroi, Sam Smith, and SZA, on April 29th. 

If you simply want to hear good music, you can attend Music Business at Penn’s first concert, Soundscape, this Wednesday, April 17. Paco explained Soundscape's allure: “Everything is house music. This is not. This is live music, real music, like what your parents heard in college.” The goal of Soundscape is to bring together Penn students on a Wednesday night before Spring Fling with artists who are vastly different. 

Opening is Denis Coleman and Blueshade, a Penn band led by Denis Coleman backed up by, as the founders described them, “some of the best guitarists we’ve ever heard.” Next on stage will be Beno, a new–age pop group, coming from the world–renowned Berklee College of Music. The third act, The Thing, is, quote, a “kick–ass rock band” coming off a nationwide sold–out tour. Finally, the event headliner, Telescreens, is a core rock and roll band with lead singer Jackson Hamm, who has astounding star quality. It was clear Levi and Paco didn’t just hire random people; rather, their keen music taste brought together what is sure to be a lively and dynamic night out. 

The event takes place at Warehouse on Watts, 923 N Watts St. Philadelphia, Pa., and tickets can be purchased right now on POSH. An exclusive discount code “34thSoundscape” was kindly given to Street readers, and gives you a way to engage with the rapidly growing Music Business at Penn and have a rad night out with friends and great music, before the start of Spring Fling weekend.