Laura Krider, Founder, Artist Support & Consulting
When Laura Krider was younger, she thought there were only two “real” career options available for a musician: be a full-time performer or teach. “And then of course, I get out of college, and I realize, wait a minute,” she says. “There is a much larger world, and there are a million ways to be involved in the arts and be an active musician.”
Taking a Systems Approach
Laura earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Music Education here at the University of Minnesota. She then taught in the public schools and worked at the U of M School of Music as Ensemble Coordinator then Graduate Student Services Assistant and Public Engagement Coordinator.
Trained as a classical singer, Laura also sings with several professional choirs in the Twin Cities and does other freelance projects.
But she had always been drawn to the management side of the arts, too, so she decided to pursue a master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Leadership. (As a U of M staff member, she had access to the Regents Scholarship.)
“I think my sweet spot crystallized as I was going through the coursework,” Laura says. “I'm very into systems in terms of people and the actual work, like the HR and management side. So I think I realized as I went on, I'm about people in systems.”
This type of systems thinking led to her rise to the role of Director of Operations and Special Projects at the American Composers Forum after graduation. There, she also spearheaded education and youth programs and community-based initiatives.
She enjoyed the work but wondered what it could be like to support artists outside of an institution. After much deliberation and conversations with peers, she took the leap and started her own business, Laura Krider, Artist Support & Consulting.
Filling a Need
Now, as a one-woman operation, Laura is able to tailor her help to artists in whatever ways they need. “I'm actually surprised that more people aren't doing what I'm doing,” she says, “because there's such a need for it. Basically what I'm doing is working with artists, mainly composers, on the business, publishing, or marketing side of their work, so that they have more capacity to actually create and put their energy into what they're meant to do.”
For some people, Laura explains, that means project management or marketing, or even visioning or coaching and serving as a thought partner. “Sometimes, and just importantly, it's also being a cheerleader and a support system,” she adds. Sometimes she does detailed, data focused work, like handling music royalties. She also works with arts nonprofits on developing programs or managing event production.
"Own that you have a special area of interest and expertise and develop it."
The majority of her clients, she continues, are people that knew her from the American Composers Forum or the University. She also receives a number of referrals from peers who trust and value her support.
“I'm very lucky that I haven't had to do a lot of active marketing,” she says. “I actually wish there was this little community of people doing what I’m doing, because there are so many others who need this support—we could refer each other and expand our network.”
She does all this while still freelance singing. “Now I'm seeing how I can support other artists while still making music. It all kind of beautifully feeds into each other and is all part of this interdependent ecosystem.”
- Art, Cities, and Economic Development with Ann Markusen
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Laura was able to take a combination of ACL courses and Humphrey School of Public Affairs courses. “That was a really magical combination, because I was with people studying other things and finding universalities like good management, governance, policy, and how to collaborate with people.”
Relationships. Laura believes it is essential to nurture “this village of artists,” where they can all support each other's growth and ask each other questions like, “Can you walk me through this? Can you share a sample of this proposal? How do you handle this situation with your board—all of these things.”
Interconnectedness. She realizes that no one is in this alone. “We're all working on projects and with organizations that might be really different, but we all need to help each other. We all need to keep learning from each other and create that space for shared growth.”
Advice for ACL Students
"Build relationships with your teachers and peers. These people are not just in the higher education silo; these are people actively working in the sector and will be your future support, coworkers, and maybe even mentors. And do everything you can to take in more than theoretical experience, like any opportunities to be a part of projects or programs or boards. This is the community where it all happens."
"Own that you have a special area of interest and expertise and develop it. Looking back, as I got started in the program, I was worried about being pigeonholed as the music person or the choral person or the classical person. I see now that I didn’t need to be worried about that. I'm glad that I was encouraged to lean into my expertise. Find your sweet spot, your wheelhouse."