Entrepreneur Stories – For Orchestra

Wealth and Wisdom - Entrepreneur Stories - For Orchestra - pic 1
Walt Ribeiro is a 27 year old composer who started For Orchestra, a company that arranges pop songs for orchestra. Walt started his company while on unemployment after he got laid off in 2009. His unemployment checks helped him survive while launching his business, and now he has arranged Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, and more.

He released a CD in 2006 which failed, but in hindsight that helped him learn about publishing, distribution.

What were the obstacles to starting your business (educational requirements, certifications, licensing, insurance, etc.)?

The only obstacle I had to overcome was understanding the licensing issues with all the pieces. When you get started it’s difficult to understand exactly what to do, and it’s too costly to consult with lawyers. So I had to pick up a few books, talk to a few people, ask my community for help along the way, and simply learn as I go. Overall, the music business is incredibly complex when it comes to licensing – most of this stuf is a big mystery to most people.

How did you find suppliers/services you needed to get started?

I made the decision to do it all myself – the production, marketing, distribution, and even the artwork. My thinking was that if I became dependent on others than that would lead to many problems – which I’ve seen in the music business very often. So I do al the arrangements, licensing, and production myself. The way I decided to do the distribution myself is by relying only on digital sales because I want to stay efficient and not worry about inventory. This has minimized the amount of suppliers I’m dependent upon, and was very cost efficient as a startup. When you’re on unemployment trying to get an idea started you don’t have the luxury of making big startup costs and investments – so that was actually a good thing for me.

How did you finance your start up?

My unemployment checks helped out a lot. I was also previously in the Youtube Partner Program – so there was a little bit of money still coming in from that, but nearly enough to survive. I also had some money saved up over the few years with the thought that I would give this idea a second shot if the opportunity ever came up again. My first attempt at this was back in 2006 when I released a CD of my original music, it was an expensive undertaking that failed miserably. I then thought about orchestrating the music of Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Aha, and more for orchestra – but I needed more money first. I never liked the idea of raising money via Venture Capital because that usually involves giving up part ownership – and when it comes to music licensing I knew that path would eventually lead to some serious licensing and publishing issues down the line.

Is this a full time business or a supplemental income?

Full time business. Started it as a side job in 2009, but after getting laid off, I pursued it full time in order to make it a profitable company and idea I could grow.

What advise would you give others?

Stop waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ to launch something or tackle an idea. The perfect time is right now – the only way you’ll learn what to do or how to perfect something is by getting your feet wet. Just get it out there and crowd source how to make it better, and pay attention.

What organizations do you belong to?

How has your lifestyle changed from being an employee to becoming a business owner?

I hated being an employee. I never liked the idea of someone having the power to end your career. Not only am I happier, but I’m tackling a dream of mine – and that’s much more fulfilling. I’m not getting paid as much, but that was never the desire – the passion is about changing the world.

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