Friday, September 19, 2014

Product and Artist Management – Course Review (Full Sail University)

Product management is not an unfamiliar concept to me. Coming from the corporate business environment as a project manager, I have a keen awareness of the differences between project and product management. As a project manager, I was responsible for organizing financial and human resources that were not directly under my control to achieve a desired outcome. A product manager does exactly the same thing, but at the next higher level. He or she must utilize many project managers, along with other resources, to achieve a desired outcome – a viable product that is ready for consumption by the public. In my world, a product manager would have been a person in charge of a line of business (an SVP for example), making that product or line of business attractive to other businesses or individual consumers.

Artist management, on the other hand, was completely new territory. I thought. Because of my personal background, I was not drawing a correlation between product and artist management. Then it dawned on me that an artist manager is in fact a product manager. He or she is responsible for bringing several products (artists) to the table and organizing them into a line of business. Utilization of all typical management core competencies is key: marketing, finance, communication, organization, and social graces.

In week one, we studied Blu Williams, artist manager for OutKast. The man never stops. He doesn’t get weekends. He has to purposely set aside time for himself and turn his phone off just to get a couple of days rest. Even as he does so, he wonders if things are falling apart while he is on a short break.

These are the same characteristics of product managers in “traditional” corporate America. They rarely get breaks, but their personalities are not likely to want them anyway. They are passionate, loyal, driven souls, regardless of what underlying interest is driving them. Most of the time, they would rather be at work doing what they love than sitting on a beach sipping margaritas.

In my original Mastery Journal Timeline, I mentioned that a desired outcome would be to “realize that there is a junction between what an artist wants to do and what the business environment will allow.” A successful artist manager is fully capable of directing multiple artists’ understanding of their talents toward results. Stated another way, directly to an artist, “if you have a message that you want heard, you are going to have to achieve some degree of financial success.” If for some reason, that artist feels that achieving financial success means selling out, it is time for the artist manager to move on.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Product Management at Apple

There is a funny daily question at my family’s breakfast table: “Did you charge your iPhone, your iPad, and your iPod?” My wife and (usually) my daughter reply, “Yes, and iPeed, and iPooed, and iPoured you a cup of coffee too.” If that is too much information, I apologize. However, it makes a simple point. I never ask them if they have charged their windows-based laptops, those thingies that we are still strapped to in order to get us through the work / school day. That is a given.
Apple has done an amazing job of convincing us that we need multiple devices to satisfy our personal needs while at the same time convincing us that we only need one brand. You can’t take your iMac with you on a run in order to listen to music, so you need an iPod. You can’t scan the web on an iPod while on the go so you need an iPad. You can’t make a phone call to your child’s school from an iPad, so you need an iPhone, which is the solution to all of the above-mentioned situational problems but is not allowed in this discussion, so I’ll move on. Don’t’ forget that soon you are going to need an iWatch!
I am about “i"-d out! However, one cannot argue with the product management genius at Apple. One letter has become synonymous with Apple, and it is not A. I wonder (yes, sadly that would be iWonder, which I will never get credit for) what would have happened if Windows would have wondered. W?
At Apple, product management is key. Mr. Jobs and crew knew how to (1) conduct competitive research and implement SMART goals in order to determine where the company should go. (2) conduct an environmental scan in order to determine where they were relative to Microsoft and where they wanted to go. (3) Implement strategies to take them there.
The video from 1984 was just the start of the rebellion. In 1984, if you put a large breasted woman in tight red shorts throwing a sledgehammer at the image of corporate America, you were taking a huge chance. Nicely done, Apple.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Artist Manager In The Entertainment Business?

I have speculated for a long time that I had little interest in a career in artist management, and author Paul Allen (2007, pp. 55-67) reiterates my awareness of that fact in Chapter 6 of Artist Management for the Music Business. While I certainly recognize the need for and appreciate the hard work of these dedicated professionals, I have no desire to become what I would describe as a professional babysitter. Much praise to those who do, however, because they are the bearings and grease that make the music wheel turn. (Oswald, 2007).

Do I want to prepare meal and drink budgets for a potential rising star’s showcase venue? Do I want to console an artist when a performance was not up to par? Counsel an artist on proper savings for tax purposes? Simple answer: Hell no. I have no patience for such things. These are grown up issues that grown up people know how to handle.  But that is just me.

The opposing side to my position is that a career in artist management can lead to all kinds of exciting things: The ability to travel incessantly, socialize as part of your job, meet brilliantly talented people, and potentially earn a very significant income. However, if a person desires a career in artist management, they had better decide so early in life. It takes years to build up the kind of network and power to get past gatekeepers and open the door to decision makers on behalf of an artist. (Allen, 2007).

As entrepreneurs in the entertainment business, we all must assess our strengths and weaknesses related to an opportunity. A weakness of mine (as it relates to this topic) is that I am analytical and unmoved by emotional appeal. If I managed an artist that had just performed their showcase and bombed, the first thing I would do is ask why, not give them a hug and reassure them that “it will all be okay.” In fact, my position would more likely be: “You just wasted my time.” That is not the attitude that most artists want in a prospective partner, and I am fully aware of that. Nevertheless, I am also aware that there is a need for a supportive manager/partner, and would be more than happy to point an artist in the right direction.


Allen, P. (2007). Artist Management for the Music Business. Burlington, MA: Elseviar, Inc.

Oswald, M. (2007). What Does an Artist Manager Do? Artist House Music. Retrieved from: