"I'm just a liberal arts guy." Listening to the stories of how a south-western Nebraska boy took his passion for local music and turned it into a lifestyle, made me believe this doer deserved a lot more credit than just being liberal arts savvy. Andrew Norman, a man of many trades, started the non-profit Hear Nebraska after recognizing a need to showcase the amazing musical talents planted right in the heartland.
Since its beginning, Hear Nebraska has gone from the typical business idea sketched on a napkin in a bar, to a full fledged non-profit reaching music enthusiasts all over the world. Discouraged by the lack of appreciation and recognition for Nebraskan bands and musicians, Norman and his wife set a goal to prove that Nebraska has a vibrant arts scene attractable to the younger people that were moving away from the Cornhusker state. With an emphasis on staying local, Hear Nebraska highlights shows, festivals and tunes coming straight out of our Nebraskan backyards. They have even represented Nebraska at world famous festivals like SXSW in Austin, TX.
Hear Nebraska has become a movement that Norman views as a lifestyle. Coming from a journalism background, he had never taken any type of business course. He literally learned the ends and outs of being an entrepreneur as he built his non-profit. At first, the plan was for Hear Nebraska to be for-profit, however with the lack of wanting to advertise and having little focus on profits, the best option was to become a non-profit. Norman did not even think of this possibility until he collaborated with another doer and they recommended the idea. He said that collaborating with other like-minded people in your community or niche is one of the most valuable tools you can use when starting your own business. Another useful tool he discovered along the way was interns. Hear Nebraska has had several editorial and multimedia interns, some of which have turned into full-time employees. Even with the growth of his non-profit, Norman has still found time to freelance and copyright to pay for the important stuff. He reminisced on the days of touring with a band eating cold Chef Boyardee and hoping that his volunteer developer would meet deadlines. He realized that his lifestyle needed a change and he has now found a way live comfortably while living out his passions.
One of the most inspiring things I took away from listening to Norman talk was his commitment to staying local. Too many times people rush to the coasts to chase their dreams. Andrew Norman's story and Hear Nebraska musicians are prime examples of dreams coming true, right hear in Nebraska.
Credits: Photos from hearnebraska.org