Talent Agency Practicum
The Talent Agency Practicum course provides students with an experiential learning opportunity operating a student-run Talent Agency. Students will work with artists on matters of presentation, marketability, branding, product development, career planning and live performance. Additionally, students will gain management experience as they represent artists, develop promotional materials, create an online presence, plan artist showcases and prepare for product release.
The following is a testimonial from Business & Entrepreneurship MAM student Max Shicker.
Talent Agency Practicum
One of the reasons I decided to attend Columbia’s MAM program was the hands-on, practical experience and education it provided, part of which is achieved through the various Practicum offerings. I was very intrigued by these courses and how they operated. As someone with a strong interest in talent management, I eagerly registered for the Talent Agency Practicum as my first semester elective.
The first thing I will tell you about this course is be prepared to work—a lot! Granted, it is not like a typical class with a textbook or a lecture, but it certainly is challenging and the work load can be intense. Essentially you are running a business as part of this course, and there is a lot that goes along with that, including coordinating projects and point people, finding clients and helping develop them as artists, creating budget proposals and requesting funds, planning events, and building relationships on and off campus. You are grouped with other students, both grads and undergrads, and as a team you need to decide the best way to operate. This can be quite challenging. For example, there is no hierarchy in place as there would be at a regular company. Hierarchy definitely serves a purpose as it can help with decision-making and simply getting things done. As a class, however, we are all at the same level, and it is up to us to collaborate and find the best way to work. This requires impeccable communication, constant checking in, and a great deal of diligence. You know that phrase “sink or swim?” That certainly applies to this class, and if you decide to swim, it has the potential to be quite rewarding.
Currently we are almost halfway through the semester, and at this point we have completed a lot of the “operational” aspects of the business, which allows us to now focus more on execution and day-to-day objectives. This semester we decided to rebrand the agency, and have set up a new website, created a refreshed logo, proposed a budget, and held a wildly successful open call for new talent. Now, with our talent in place—which includes bands, actors, musicians, and comedians—we can focus on our main goal of promoting our clients and booking them jobs. We also have a few exciting events planned for this year to showcase our roster of talent, so definitely be on the lookout for that as well!
Like all of the Practicum courses, the Talent Agency practicum is repeatable. This can provide a unique experience, as you can build upon your work in previous semesters and keep the agency growing and moving forward. As new students enter the class, they may have their own ideas and goals, and you will need to work together and make business decisions as a team. This certainly creates a distinct dynamic that will build your skills and prepare you for the business world. The course also participates with AEMMP at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX in the Spring, offering an opportunity for students to experience a world class artistic event, advocate for their clients, and build relationships.
The Talent Agency Practicum course is definitely what you make of it, both individually and as a group working together. Future classes may decide to re-brand again, or keep the current name and logo (of course we certainly hope they keep it!). They may want to bring on new talent, revise the agency goals and objectives, or think of new, creative ways to promote their artists. This is all wonderful, and part of what makes the class exactly what it is—a way for students to experience what it can be like to run a business. This is your education and your experience, and if you are looking to build your skill set, think creatively, and work hard, I highly recommend considering the Practicum offerings at Columbia.