March 13, 2018
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
The Mount’s Aquinas Hall was packed during the recent “Business and Law of Sports and Entertainment in the Hudson Valley” panel held at the college.
Students at Mount Saint Mary College learned from the expertise of local industry leaders in the sectors of sports and entertainment during a recent panel presentation at the college.
“The Business and Law of Sports and Entertainment in the Hudson Valley” featured Rob Affuso, president of the Soulsystem Orchestras and former drummer for the band Skid Row; Russell Ger, conductor for the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra; Brandon Steiner, founder and CEO of Steiner Sports; R. Scott Russell, assistant professor of Sports Management at Mount Saint Mary College; and Gary M. Schuster, Esq., partner at Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLP. The panel was moderated by Michael L. Fox, assistant professor of Business Law and Pre-Law advisor at the Mount, and sponsored by the college’s School of Business and Pre-Law Society.
Originally from Australia, Ger noted that he has always been impressed with how dedicated the community is to the betterment and enrichment of Newburgh. He believes that opportunities for entertainment businesses in the Hudson Valley abound as a result.
“The population here has the desire and the need” for quality performances, he said. The greatest compliment he ever received on the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra was that the orchestra provided the quality of New York City right in people’s backyard, he added.
Affuso, who was born and raised in Newburgh, agreed. “There’s so many more opportunities now,” he said of the entertainment industry in the Hudson Valley. As a result, however, “You have to be aggressive and know why you’re talented and why you want to do this.”
The former drummer noted that he was able to use his experience in the performing arts to gain the business acumen needed to run his current company, a point that Steiner echoed. Steiner emphasized that gaining business experience with another company is integral to starting one’s own. Even if working for that company is not the end goal, he explained, students would be able to learn how business is conducted and apply that to their own ideas.
Presenters at the Mount’s recent “Business and Law of Sports and Entertainment in the Hudson Valley.” From left to right: Michael L. Fox, assistant professor of Business Law and Pre-Law advisor at Mount Saint Mary College; R. Scott Russell, assistant professor of Sports Management at Mount Saint Mary College; Russell Ger, conductor for the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra; Gary M. Schuster, Esq., partner at Jacobowitz and Gubits, LLP; Rob Affuso, president of the Soulsystem Orchestras and former drummer for the band Skid Row; and Brandon Steiner, founder and CEO of Steiner Sports.
Drawing on his personal experience beginning in computer science, Russell demonstrated to the audience that many seemingly unrelated skills can be applied to one’s chosen profession. “Sports management doesn’t exclude anybody – you can do accounting for sports, marketing for sports…find a way to use your academic skills to apply to your passion and turn it into a lifelong goal,” he said.
The professor is impressed with the accomplishments of students in the Mount’s Sports Management programs, a concentration within the School of Business that was introduced at the college about two years ago. “I can’t wait for the next 5 to 10 years to see the great successes coming out of this program,” Russell told the audience.
From the law perspective, Schuster shared that finding a specialist is key in opening and maintaining a successful business, especially in the sports and entertainment fields. On the entertainment side, one has to consider copyrights, equipment purchases, and investment structures, while insurance, licensing, and environmental concerns are top priorities in sports-related businesses.
The lawyer encouraged students to think outside the box when it comes to looking for careers in sports and entertainment. “For example, [the Hudson Valley] has the hardware of entertainment,” he explained, referencing set building, lighting equipment, and more that is produced in the area, which would also provide ways for those skilled in non-related fields like technology and engineering to be a part of these industries.
For Steiner, the biggest takeaway from his experiences in starting Steiner Sports is simple, he said:“It isn’t about selling, it’s about solving.” That philosophy fuels his company’s focus on being customer-centric.
For the aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience, Steiner encouraged them not to wait until graduation to get started and to begin building their personal brand now.
“No matter where you are, make it happen,” he said. “The grass isn’t greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it.”