Entrepreneur Q&A: Shain Shapiro of Sound Diplomacy

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Shain Shapiro has worked in the music industry for over fifteen years, including (before founding Sound Diplomacy) 3.5 years as the UK and European Representative of the Canadian Independent Music Association. Sound Diplomacy is the world’s leading music market development consultancy with offices in London, Barcelona and Berlin and a representative office in India.
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He has designed a course for Berklee College of Music, advised on the Momentum Music Fund, guest lectures at four universities in three countries and has spoken at MIDEM, SXSW, WOMEX, Liverpool Soundcity, Eurosonic, Canadian Music Week and over 30 other festivals and conferences.

If you could offer a first time entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?

To not take everything too seriously and accept your mistakes, as you’re going to make them. 

Do you have any daily rituals?

I tend to listen to a different podcast everyday if I can and I always start my day with a strong coffee.  

Has running a business made you a better person?

I think it has, to be honest.  It’s accentuated my flaws, which I’m trying to work on, such as impatience, and made me more responsible to others, as now I have a team that I have to support and manage.

What do you consider to be success?

If you go to work and love what you do and earn a living because of it, that’s a success.  Given we spend more than a third of our day working at the very minimum, we should enjoy what we do.  Success is not just financial to me. That’s important, but it’s also well being and feeling challenged and excited about work.  

How do you stay motivated?

By thinking about all the tasks and goals that I want to accomplish in the short, medium and long term.  My job keeps me motivated, almost to a fault sometimes. 

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

Letting a few clients go even though we love doing the work.  We just don’t have the time and the cost-benefit analysis did not weigh up. 

Do you think you’re good at what you do?

Sometimes.  There’s lots of things I do that I don’t excel at, like accounts, corporate governance and so on, although I have improved.  The core of my job and its tasks – managing my team and developing our strategy and pathways I feel confident, but feeling good is a day by day question. 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done as an entrepreneur?

I do a lot of public speaking and doing a talk at the European Parliament on one of our product lines was very awkward.  The audience was emotionless, so I was the only one laughing at my jokes. 

What book do you think everyone should read?

How Music Works by David Byrne 

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