Successful Berklee Alumni #119: Jacob Cohen

Jacob Cohen

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 27 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2010 with a major in Performance.  Principal instrument:  drums.


Position:  Real Estate Agent.  In Philadelphia he and his father co-run a group through Keller Williams Realty, where he specializes in selling land to investors/developers.  In New York he works through The Corcoran Group doing residential sales and luxury rentals.  He also has a side business with property management, helping his investors find tenants and taking care of their properties.  “I do it all. As a drummer I never wanted to limit myself to one genre. Similarly I don’t want to limit myself to one type of opportunity.”


Overview:  After graduation, Jacob moved to NYC with had bandmates, hoping to make it in music, but in the short term he needed money.  “I didn’t want to be a waiter, a bartender or a music teacher.  My father was a realtor, and encouraged me to get my license.”  A family friend was an executive in the Corcoran Group and that got Jacob an interview.  Jacob would arrive at the office super-early to get first dibs on walk-in clients, and would host other agents’ open houses in order to meet more buyers.   He also would observe the best agents in action, and ask them for tips, in order to learn as much as he could.  After about a year, he was invited to join an elite group within Corcoran, where handled the lower-end items (mostly rentals).

At the same time, he was aggressively pursuing a music career, gigging and rehearsing.  In late 2011 Jacob was turning 24 and decided to pursue his dreams.  He quit real estate despite the high pay.  He soon got a six-month Broadway theater gig, but that wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do.  After that ended, Jacob  spent another 15 months in music making little money and not getting a break, until in early 2014 he asked his old real estate team if he could come back.  He did so, and has prospered in Real Estate since.  Starting in 2017 he started doing very well getting New York investors to purchase land in Philadelphia, so he moved to Philadelphia, got his license there, and works primarily there in a team he and his father co-founded, though he still does business in New York as well.


You can see Jacob’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “To be a successful agent, you really have to LISTEN to people.  I love the whole process of weeding through what they tell me to being able to say ‘I found that’ when I get them exactly what they want.”

“Having Corcoran behind me in NYC was huge! I’d be told by clients that they like me but also like that I’m with Corcoran. You also have be a good realtor of course, but going in with a strong hand is much more important then the commission split. ”

“Senior year at Berklee I gave a speech in the David Friend Recital hall to incoming freshmen called ‘It’s all about the hang.’ — about how important it it to meet and connect with a large number of people.  It’s the same deal in real estate. In fact, going out and connecting with people is the most fun part of my job!”

“At Berklee you know you’re among the best and that pushes you to make sure you’re the best or even better than the best. I was constantly trying to learn and get better. That’s carried into my job. I could’ve walked in at 22 thinking I knew everything, but I was constantly listening to the best realtors to learn from them and improve myself.”

“Real estate is all about money, but there are other parts of our brains that need to be flexed and we need to take care of that. Being a musician, or other creative type, gives you an awareness of the world–like being fully awake. Often that attention we pay to the world gives us artists the upper hand, whatever we’re doing.”

“I’m an avid listener, searching out new stuff.  I also write and play music nearly every day and plan to put out an album later this year.  Music motivates me on days when other parts of the day aren’t going great.  Nobody can take away that love for music, whatever you’re doing as  career.”


See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.