Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
the bobby band knoxville brass
March 18, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

UTK student applies entrepreneurship strategies to his brass band

Bobby Troutman is the second place winner for the Spring Semester of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation's Vol Court.

Just as there are plenty of fish in the sea, there are many different types of students on a university campus. At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), there are more than 36,000 students. They all fall into some category: academic, athlete, performer, achiever, socialite, carefree, slacker, leader, artsy, you name it.

We had the opportunity to chat with Bobby Troutman, a senior at UTK, who created a category of his own. First, you will think “Wow, he’s a powerhouse student!”  Then, you may want to hire him. No doubt, you will be impressed by his time management.

Troutman was the second-place winner of the Spring 2024 Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition at the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in the Haslam College of Business. Except, Troutman isn’t an entrepreneurship major, and he has rarely stepped foot inside Haslam College. His academic path couldn’t be more opposite.

He is a double major in Music Business Administration and Pre-Med. And what do those two majors have in common? That was our question.

“Nothing,” he joked. “I’m living in three separate worlds. I just put my head down and get it done.”

In addition to his dual enrollment, Troutman is a member of the esteemed Pride of the Southland Marching Band. He plays at many of the sports games during Football and basketball seasons.

“The Bobby Band”

He also participates in his own, separate brass band comprised of seven people, which includes his younger brother. “The Bobby Band” has been around for five years, and it’s his passion project.

In high school, Troutman fell in love with playing the trombone and discovered he was gifted at it. Though he won accolades for his jazz and classical songs, he wanted to bring the brass sound to a more modern crowd. That’s how the all-brass Bobby Band was formed.

They have played popular covers at Red Silo Brewing in Cookeville, Lenoir City nights on Broadway, and even have an upcoming show at Scruffy City Hall in Knoxville.

Though the performances are fun, Troutman said it’s a lot deeper than that.

“Being able to perform with my younger brother is the most special part of the band. Music has kept us together, and connected all these years,” he said. “Also, we lost a close friend, who was a trumpet player in a car accident a few years ago… each performance is dedicated to her.”

His band is a big part of his personal life, but the University has slowly shown him that it could be a part of his academic and professional life, too.

Part of his Music Business Administration major is to take an entrepreneurship course. Afterall, running a band is a lot like running a business. There are management skills, financial skills, marketing skills, and leadership skills required to survive and thrive in a competitive music space. That’s how Troutman got connected with ACEI’s Vol Court.

“Our band has seen some success already, but we really need funds to help us get some new equipment so we can play at bigger venues,” he said.

That’s the approach he took during his pitch at Vol Court. He even brought his trombone as an accessory.

“I knew that if I could just get up there and entertain the judges, they would get on board with my idea to grow this band,” he said.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened. After his 90-second pitch, the judges gave him a little extra time to play “Rocky Top” on his trombone. He placed 2nd in the competition and brought home $1,000 for some new equipment.

Vol Court winners
Vol Court winners, Bobby Troutman (R)

As of right now, Troutman isn’t sure whether he is going to continue pursuing music academically. He is about to graduate in May and is contemplating whether to continue with an MBA or follow the medical track.

One thing is for certain, the show will go on for the Bobby Band.

Like what you've read?

Forward to a friend!

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

No, thanks!