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Wolf Tones

Building a music business

Arts entrepreneurship alumna Daniela Gaudete '20 is building a music career in her home country of Colombia, using the skills and perspective shifts she acquired at NC State.

Daniela Gaudete sits between two producers in front of computer and recording equipment in a studio

It required what she calls an “informed leap of faith” for Daniela Gaudete (Business Administration, Marketing ‘20), to move to Colombia to pursue her music career. It also required networking, strategy and an understanding of the value of her creative product—knowledge, skills and perspective shifts that she acquired as an arts entrepreneurship minor at NC State.

Gaudete, born Daniela Patiño-Zabaleta, experienced a moment of clarity through her coursework in the arts entrepreneurship minor and the mentorship she received from lecturer Katie Brown that bridged the gap between what she was studying in her major and what she wanted to do professionally with her music. “It was that ‘click,’” she said, “that helped me realize that music cannot be treated as you would treat a product like, let’s say, soap. There are things that need to be applied to business models, but in a different way.”

An origin story

Gaudete grew up in Colombia surrounded by her musically gifted family. Her passion for the performing arts originated with her lifelong love of dancing, particularly salsa. Growing up, she and her brother attended a bilingual school, studying in Spanish and English. When she turned 17, her parents decided to move to the United States temporarily to give her and her brother the opportunity to perfect their English. Ultimately, they decided to extend their stay and when Gaudete graduated from high school, she enrolled as a student at Meredith College where she planned to double major in business and dance. While at Meredith, she joined NC State’s Panoramic Dance Company and took an arts entrepreneurship class through the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges agreement. She fell in love with NC State and transferred in her second year. 

While she was a student at NC State in August of 2019, Gaudete was invited to sing as part of an event in her home country celebrating 200 years of Colombian independence. She took the opportunity seriously and began working with a vocal coach to prepare. 

“The Vice President [of Colombia] was there and different military leaders, and it was in a gorgeous theater,” said Gaudete of the experience. “We had 120 musicians on stage, it was all philharmonic. It was beautiful and I just felt like this opportunity was bigger than myself and where I was, at the moment.”

There she met a music producer named Andrés Baruti, who had written the arrangements used in the concert. Until then, Gaudete’s artistic expression had been focused largely on dance, but performing in this concert caused something to shift and she came out of it determined to create music of her own. She and Baruti decided to stay in touch, and Gaudete returned to NC State to complete her degree. She took a music department course on songwriting with digital audio workstations (DAWs) and began spending much of her time in the music department’s DAW labs and the music booths in the NC State libraries, writing and recording songs. During the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, she released her first original song, “Miel,” in collaboration with a fellow NC State student, Alan “Chico” Marines.

“It had a very clear influence of our Latin American roots, because I come from a Colombian background and [Marines] comes from a Mexican background,” said Gaudete. “So we released that song, and a lot of people really enjoyed having a song that had that taste of traditional Latin American music, but it was in ‘Spanglish,’ so it was in both [Spanish and English]. It was that mix, that overlapping of experiences that many young people have in the US when they have different backgrounds because of their parents or their family. That was our first song.” 

After graduation, she took a job with a marketing agency but quickly decided to move to Los Angeles instead where she danced salsa professionally, learned as much as she could about the workings of the music industry and deepened her faith.

Daniela Gaudete creates music in one of the music department’s digital audio workstation labs in Broughton Hall while attending NC State. Photo courtesy of Daniela Gaudete.

Then, on a visit to her family in Colombia, Gaudete had what she described as an existential crisis. She had been offered a job as a Catholic missionary for high school students but she felt a pull toward music and toward her home country that she couldn’t ignore. Her family had a vacant property in the city of Medellín, Colombia and, following conversations with both the producer Baruti and her spiritual advisor, Gaudete decided to settle there and focus on building her music career. To her surprise, Baruti and his partner decided to move from Bogota to Medellín in order for him to work with Gaudete.

“From that moment we worked on creation every day, from seven to eight hours every day. Then at night I teach English classes to companies, completely online, and so that’s how my life has been for the past almost [six] months,” said Gaudete. “I’ve been learning a lot about what it’s like to be in the industry, but also not lose that creative side of what it is to be an artist.

“When you’re starting, you just have so many things to think about in terms of investment, management and production. You can get so busy with what’s around you that you just don’t end up creating anything, and then what’s the point? We do goals for the year and we focus on the month. We are a business, so we operate like it.”

Building a music business

Gaudete and Baruti are producing original songs and covers to release as singles and establish a portfolio and presence for Gaudete. Once they have enough singles they plan to start work on her first album. In the process of creation, she’s discovering her unique sound and what sets her apart in the music industry in Colombia and internationally.

“What I like to make is music inspired by salsa. That’s my background,” she said. “That’s what I breathe every day, pretty much. So that’s my focus—music inspired in salsa and boleros, which is like a Latin American ballad. That’s pretty much what I love to produce, and I feel like right now we don’t have many women in that space.”

Gaudete is pursuing her music career very much as a business, and thanks to all that she learned in her arts entrepreneurship courses, she’s able to do so through a music-first lens. 

The arts entrepreneurship minor creates that customized framework so that you can treat your craft as a business without sacrificing authenticity or art in general.

“The main goal for me is to live off of this and for this be my main source of everything: of creativity, of income. But I don’t do this for the money. It doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention to it, which I think is an important mindset shift that we have as artists,” she said. “[You can’t go] into it thinking like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to become a millionaire doing this.’ Yes and no, because we can’t create a song thinking that. It’s just not going to be authentic. It’s going to put a lot of pressure that you don’t need as an artist. But you can’t just be releasing songs that you’ve invested in, like, ‘Here’s my song.’ If you’ve already dedicated your energy, your funds, everything to that, then you have to make sure that you treat it after it’s done and you give it the place it deserves in the world.”

To that end, Gaudete is networking and connecting with industry professionals. She’s building a presence on social media and music streaming platforms. And she’s supporting herself through her English teaching job in order to give herself the time and resources she needs to build her career intentionally and in a sustainable way. 

“Literally every day is just an adventure,” she said. “I think I came into it without expectations. I came into it without any rush. Of course, we want to go from A to Z immediately, but there’s a process.”

Setting herself up for success

Gaudete credits the arts entrepreneurship minor with helping her understand how to connect her two roles as a musician and businesswoman successfully. She noted that in her business classes, she was taught to start developing a business plan by considering what problem she is trying to solve with her product or service.

“Sometimes with the arts, when you create music, there isn’t necessarily a problem that you’re trying to solve. It’s more who you’re trying to connect with and what you want to express with that music,” she said. “Just being able to make those connections in the minor was super life-changing, because then you’re not overthinking trying to fit your career in a business model that wasn’t made for that. The arts entrepreneurship minor creates that customized framework so that you can treat your craft as a business without sacrificing authenticity or art in general.”

That framework and the confidence Gaudete needed to commit to her music career came, in part, thanks to the instruction and mentorship she received from arts entrepreneurship lecturer Katie Brown, who Gaudete said has continued to be a mentor and a resource for her post-graduation. Brown has invited Gaudete to speak virtually with her students this semester about her experience transitioning from student artist to arts entrepreneur. Gaudete plans to share the benefits she’s found in having a part-time job to support her music dream as she gets started, and to share with them the concrete steps she has taken to establish her career as a musician and businesswoman. 

“I think this career is full of challenges, but more than challenges it’s a lot about making decisions or what we call leaps of faith—informed leaps of faith,” Gaudete explained. “For example, making the decision to move here [to Colombia]. For me, in that moment, it was scary in a way because I had a life in the U.S., I had my friends. But then I had this beautiful opportunity to live here after so many years and then work on music. That moment of making that decision, I feel like just knowing that I had the knowledge—even though I didn’t know how it was going to start, how it was going to be—I knew that I had the tools to set the foundation or at least start building something.”

You can learn more about Gaudete and her music on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.