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.

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