Music Business Panel Discussion

Miles Vandiver spoke with small business owners Thomas Pullen of Mojo’s Music and Mark Landon of Halpin Music for a Music Business Panel discussion. Both being CEO’s of their respective companies, Pullen and Landon have a wealth of knowledge and provided realistic and powerful insights to the students at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Both also being SIUe alumni, the current students were inspired by 2 of their very own and given a realistic outlook on their own futures.

The discussion started our with a brief history from both owners, detailing how they each ended up in the position of CEO. While each took a different path, they both said very similar things about the music community and the business of music. The discussion became centered around this idea: people over profit. Pullen provided many detailed examples from his own experience, as well did Landon, of this exact idea. One prevalent example was how Mojo’s Music in Edwardsville, IL withstood the COVID-19 pandemic. Pullen explained the benefits of owning a small business in the midst of the pandemic, how he had the opportunity to embrace change and innovate quickly. How “as the little guy”, as Pullen described his business, he put effort into hand delivering his customers’ orders throughout the pandemic. Whereas, corporate music companies were still in the midst of coming up with solutions to supply chain issues and stores being shut down.

Pullen continued by saying that the local music stores, including Halpin Music in Alton, IL, all helped each other out during the pandemic. The aspect that sets their small music shops apart from a larger company like Guitar Center is the emphasis on building a music community. Both owners prioritize the people behind the instruments and those working in their stores. They both go above in beyond to serve the customer rather than just trying to make a profit.

You can do well, and do good at the same time

– Thomas Pullen

They also discussed many business industry terms with the students such as supply chain management, buy in, and consignment. Both Pullen and Landon provided examples of times when they has to “bite the bullet” short-term to allow advancement in their companies long-term.

Landon finished up the discussion by specifically talking to the students about the importance of hard work.

To get where you want to go in life, it is going to take a lot of work. If you have an idea for something, be that person that creates it

– Mark Landon

He continued by emphasizing the importance and acceptance of failure and how mistakes are learning opportunities. Taking risks are necessary to earn a reward and follow your dream.

After the panel discussion, the students had an opportunity to meet and speak with each panel member. The next Music Business Panel Discussion is in the works, so stay tuned.